Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year! And My 2014 in Review

Happy New Year!

Although I've only had RealGirlRunning for the past few months, I thought I'd share a few highlights in my life in 2014.   I tend to be a glass half full kind of girl, so these will be the good things I remember about the year that was.

I got promoted at work

Although it was a bit of a default promotion because my manager left, I am still proud that I've stepped up into a new role.  It also meant I've been able to hire an amazing analyst who makes my work life easier and much more fun, and I'm learning something new each day.  So I'm grateful for the opportunity, and hope to keep working hard at proving myself in 2015.

My sister got engaged!

Although she kept it a secret, my sister's boyfriend proposed to her in New York the week before my wedding.  She kept it a secret all through our wedding in Hawaii, and they only told us afterwards.  Isn't she the best!  I was (and am still!) so excited for them both.

We got married - in Hawaii

Best. Day. Ever. (And best 2 weeks of my life with family and friends!)

We went to Thailand for a holiday

No, it wasn't our honeymoon!  I had a really crazy time at work from when I got back from the wedding until mid July, so we always like to get away sometime in August to reconnect, recharge, and warm up from the Aussie winter.  We loved Thailand!  I'd go back in a heart beat for the food, the warm weather, and just the relaxing time with my husband :)

I started my RealGirlRunning blog!

Although the idea had been fermenting away in the back of my head for awhile, I finally got myself organised, went to a few short courses, and started writing my blog!  I love it.  I love being able to share things with you all, from parts of my life, to my training and and eating, and just topics of interest that I have.  It's a great outlet for me (so completely different to my day to day work), and so far, it's been a blast!  I hope you can stick around for 2015 :)

My sister got married, and I gained a brother-in-law

A couple of weeks ago, I was a very excited and happy participant in my sister's wedding.  Yes, she pulled together a wedding in less than 8 months.  It was a Gatsby themed affair in my home town, and it was the second best weekend of my year :)  They looked so happy, and hopefully they've made memories to keep with them for a lifetime, as they see what the future has to bring.  Love you both!

Don't get me wrong, there have been some hard and sad things this year too, and they will not be forgotten.  But when I think of the year that has passed, I am filled with memories of family, love and happiness.  So that's how I'm going to remember it!

What are three big things that happened in your life in 2014?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

5 Tips to Making Habits Stick

It's the time of year where many of us start to think about the ways we want next year to be different from the last.  I think the reason that new year's resolutions are so appealing is that they give us control over our destiny.  We think if we just can do that one certain thing, we will be happy with our lives.

I'm not sure I really believe that any one thing can make you truly happy, because life is a journey as we grow and evolve.  But I do believe that we all have the capacity to make changes in our lives that help up become one step closer to the person we want to be.

For me, to truly change something in my life I need it to become a habit.  If I have something that I need to truly make a decision about or to do (or not do), then there is the possibility that I will take the easier option.  But if I get to a point where I can't imagine not having that thing occur in my life, and I don't even contemplate not doing it, then I feel like I have truly changed.

Habits aren't the easiest things to get going, so I found a few pointers that I thought you might find useful.

1. Choose something you really believe in

It may sound like something you don't really need to say but if you want to change, you have to believe in the change you are making.  If you want to lose weight, it has to be because you want to be healthier for the rest of your life, or even for your family.  If you want to drink more water, it has to be because you believe that your skin and body will be better for it.  If you want to save for a holiday, it has to be because you want to go to a place that you've been dreaming of with people you love.  You need the motivation for change to be real and meaningful to you.

2. Start simple

Start with a small, simple change that you know you can achieve.  If you want to run a 10km race, but haven't left the couch yet, start with committing to walking for 15 minutes each day.  You can walk for 15 minutes, right?  So once you've done that for a week, and given yourself some confidence that you can do what you set out to do, then up the anti a little, to walk for 20 minutes each day.  Or to add one minute jog into every three minutes of walking.  Start small, and work your way up towards the big goal.

3. Create a behaviour train / plan

It's funny how when you repeatedly connect some behaviours together, after awhile you realise that one triggers the other.  For example, if as soon as you get up you put on your running clothes, it can put you in the frame of mind to go for a run, even if you don't feel like it.  Or if you pour yourself a glass of water to have with each meal, before you know it, you will feel strange if you don't drink water with every meal.  Your brain makes connections between activities, and you can use this to your advantage when trying to create healthy habits.

4. If you slip, get back on track straight away

We live in the real world.  At some point, you're going to find it hard to keep your habit especially at the start.  Maybe you decide to have 3 weeks alcohol free, but then realise that your friend's 30th birthday is smack bang in the middle.  That's life - not everything works out perfectly.  If celebrating your friend's 30th birthday is important to you, then just give yourself permission to have a couple of drinks that night, then get back into your committed habit straight away the next day.  Be real, make wises choices, but make them a decision, not an excuse to fall back into old ways.

5. Give it 21 days - at least!

I have read that it takes 21 days of repeated action for something to become a habit.  This means that if you commit to doing one thing 21 days in a row, you have a much greater likelihood of continuing the habit.  Even something as simple as having a chamomile tea before going to bed for 21 days in a row can mean that from then on, just the habit of having chamomile tea will be associated with going to sleep, and hopefully make you sleep easier.  But keep it up for 21 days at a minimum, and you're well on your way to a life habit.


What is your tip for making a habit stick in your life?

Monday, 29 December 2014

Not the Usual Eats This Week!

With a couple of days of work, then Christmas and being on holidays, my food this week was pretty abnormal!  But in a good way.  Although you can rest assured that there were lots of yummy treats of shortbread, gingerbread, chocolates, rum balls and a few glasses of wine that aren't documented here, there was also lots of really amazing food.  At this time of year, my philosophy is just to go with what is on the menu, and just try to be realistic about the amount of food I eat.  It helps when almost every mouthful is delicious!

As always, I have not listed every single thing I ate each day, just the main meals and highlights.



  • Breakfast My multigrain porridge with a peach, large skinny cappucino
  • Lunch Japanese wagyu beef set - sashimi, wagyu beef, rice, salad, tempura fish
  • Dinner Salmon and greens - bok choy, broccoli and onion pan fried

Although I forgot to take a picture, I met a friend out for lunch at Yuzu - my favourite CBD Japanese restaurant.  The food is fresh and flavourful. I also really like the sets because you get a little bit of all kinds of things.  I had a normal breakfast, and a normal dinner - especially considering the larger lunch.


  • Breakfast Large skinny cappucino, 62c egg special, with multigrain toast, two poached eggs, greens and goats cheese mousse
  • Lunch Tuna rice salad - rice and quinoa mix, with tomatoes, snow peas, corn, mixed beans, and tuna with chili 
  • Dinner Jamie Oliver smashed chicken breasts with garlic and lemon, with bok choy and asparagus, and couscous salad (couscous, corn, chickpeas, peas and onion)
I treated myself to a special breakfast for my last day of work.  I had to get the egg special from Kinfolk - it was a no brainer.  We had a group lunch in the office, so I used the last of my normal tuna rice salad ingredients I had on hand.  Gareth again took care of dinner - I'm a spoilt girl!


  • Breakfast My multigain porridge with peach, and nespresso coffee
  • Lunch Spicy tuna sushi (two rolls)
  • Dinner Slow cooked pork, with baked potato and broccoli salad (broccoli, beans, peas, slivered almonds and mustard mayonnaise)
My first day of holidays - woohoo!  I started the day in pretty standard fashion, but we were at my parents house for dinner.  Dad prepared an amazing slow cooked pork roast in the BBQ, and Mum put together a wonderful broccoli salad - I'm going to have to steal that recipe!  We tried to go easy, knowing Christmas was the next day.


  • Breakfast  Porridge of oats, LSA mix, sultanas, mixed spice and slivered almonds, skinny cappucino 
  • Lunch Christmas lunch!  Roast chicken, turkey, beef and pork, with roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, green beans, honey carrots, cheese cauliflower and gravy
  • Snack Christmas dessert! Pavlova, trifle, pudding, custard and cream
  • Dinner Leftover Christmas dinner - roast meats, potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potatoes, garden salad and potato salad
Christmas Day!  I lined my stomach with porridge to start the day, which was especially important because we were up early, and would have been so easy to continually snack on all the amazing food around if I was hungry.  I enjoyed every bite of Christmas lunch, dessert and dinner, but I just had one plate for each.  In prior years, I would definitely have gone back for seconds!  But this way, I felt satisfied without feeling too bloated.


  • Breakfast Skinny cappucino
  • Lunch Rockmelon (half) with no fat yoghurt and some nuts
  • Dinner Indian takeaway - saffron rice, garlic naan, vegetable samosa, palak paneer (cottage cheese in spinach sauce), chicken kadai
I was actually really full on Friday morning, and I didn't feel like eating until later in the day.  Even then, I just went for something light in fruit and yoghurt.  By the evening I was hungry again though, and I enjoyed the Indian we had.  It was great to have something totally different from what I had been eating for the last couple of days.


  • Breakfast  My multigrain porridge as overnight oats with natural yoghurt and raspberries
  • Lunch  Lamb souvlaki and skinny cappucino
  • Snack  fresh pineapple
  • Dinner  BBQ steak, chicken kebab, garden salad
Back to semi normal eating on Saturday, and I enjoyed the lamb souvlaki from the market.  Because we had takeaway on Friday night, we decided to have a bbq dinner at home, which was great.   Lots of protein - good after a hard gym session that morning!


  • Breakfast  my multigrain porridge with yellow peach, short macchiato
  • Lunch Garden salad, cauliflower and chickpea salad
  • Snack  Dried fruit and nuts
  • Dinner  Classic chicken parmigiana with seasonal vegies
Sunday I got up late (for me), which meant that after a long run I didn't eat breakfast until 11am.  My whole day of eating was out of whack as a result.  After a really light lunch, I was a bit snacky all afternoon, but tried to keep it healthy with dried and fresh fruits and nuts.  Dinner was at a local pub 


For Christmas week, I feel like I ate pretty well!  I definitely at more than normal, and had lots of sweet treats because they were there, but I enjoyed healthy, home cooked food mostly, and just tried to listen to my body for when it wanted (or didn't want!) nourishment.  

I did notice that my sweet tooth has remained after rearing it's ugly head.  It is a hard time of year to really be vigilant about what you eat, so I just tried to not go overboard.  It helps that there is lots of amazing summer fruits around at the moment - rockmelon, cherries and pineapple are some of my favourites.

One good thing is that we don't really give each other lots of sweets and chocolates at Christmas any more, which means they are just not around to eat!  I'm happy about that. 

What's next

This week I want to get back into my normal eating routine, and enjoy more summer BBQs and salads. I think porridge will continue to be a feature - either hot or as overnight oats.  But being realistic, we will be out and about a lot more - especially for lunch - so I still want to enjoy the food I'm eating!

I also want to start to cut out the excess sugar again.  I'm happy eating fruits because they have other nutritional benefits, but there is no need to continue to have sweet biscuits, lollies and chocolate.  I will try to get back into the routine of having vegies as snacks instead.

Were you happy with your Christmas eats this year?  Did you let yourself enjoy your food, or do you feel some guilt about what you ate?

Sunday, 28 December 2014

An Aussie Summer Weekend

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and have started to wind down after the festivities.  At least, before it all picks up again for New Year's eve!

We had a pretty typical Aussie summer holidays weekend.  The weather has been beautiful - high 20s (Celsius), blue skies and a little wind. Just perfect!

Friday ...

We came back from my parents house after spending Christmas with them in Ballarat.  Although we had eaten so much food, we were feeling lazy so got takeaway Indian for dinner.  The funny thing is that even with Gareth's  mum being here with us, we still ordered pretty much the same amount of food as we normally do, just with an extra samosa and garlic naan.  It was really yummy - we were saying that we are lucky to have some much variety in what we can eat here - Indian after a few days of traditional Aussie Christmas fare.

I watched Four Weddings and a Funeral which was on  tv, with Gareth's mum.  This movie is one of my all time favourites - I think I know almost every line!  Every time I hear the poem spoken at the funeral by Matthew, I choke up.  

Gareth stuck it out for a little while, but left to watch something more manly - Aliens I think.

Saturday ...

I'd rested for a couple of days over Christmas and Boxing Day, so Saturday morning I hit the gym for a weights workout.  I did one of my Stage 4 NROLFW workouts, and it hurt pretty good.

After getting home, fed and cleaned up, we went to Queen Victoria Market for some fresh produce.  It was perfect weather to be there - not too hot, but shorts and tshirt weather nonetheless.  We all had lamb souvlakis for lunch, which were huge!  I ate about half of mine, and had a small skinny cappucino to go with it (I was jonesing for my first coffee hit of the day).

After fueling up, we wandered through some of the stalls, and then stocked up on fruits and vegies, and some fresh meat.  The produce is so fresh and cheap!  I love that we know we are buying direct from the producers.

For dinner we used some of our QVM fare, and had a BBQ at home.  Tbone steak, chicken kebabs, garden salad and a cauliflower and chickpea salad I found at the local supermarket.  So much protein!  And so good!  After dinner I was really tired, and called it a night early, after watching an episode of Wahlburgers.

Sunday ...

Sunday morning was about a long run.  I busted out 16km on the treadmill at the gym, at a pretty easy pace.  I was contemplating going further, but I could just start to feel my knee cause a little pain, so I called it a day.  No getting injured again for me!

After a refuel of my porridge and coffee, I did some washing and played around the house until I headed out to meet an old Uni friend who lives in Sydney, but was visiting his family in Melbourne.  We try to catch up about this time each year and have started making a French cafe in Carlton our regular haunt - Depot de Pain - he's one of those friends that, no matter how long since we caught up, we can have a good chat.  Thanks for the catch up Toby!

Sunday evening Gareth's mum took us out for dinner at our local pub, which is perfect for an easy meal.  If you're even in Point Cook, give the Brook a try, if you're after some pub grub.

And that's about my weekend!  Time to plan what to do with my free time over the next few days - yay!

How was the weather in your neck of the woods this weekend?  Did you get out and about, or stay in!

Friday, 26 December 2014

I Love the Weekend Between Christmas and New Year!

The weekend between Christmas and New Year is one of my favourites because there is no pressure to do anything, but because you're on holidays, you really want to get out and about.  Here in Melbourne the weather is going to be fantastic (28-30C with sunny clear blue skies), so this weekend it will be all about getting out into the sun.

Here are some of the things going on around Melbourne town over the next few days.

Boxing Day Test

If you're into sports in Melbourne, then it's likely you'll be checking out the cricket Boxing Day Test.  You could camp out in your lounge room, with all your luxuries at your finger tips (ie beer and doritos), head to a pub to cheer on the Aussies with a drink or two, and 50 of your closest mates (at least, for the day), or you could make your way to the MCG, get into the spirit, and probably partake in a Mexican wave or two.  Whichever way you choose, enjoy the game, and fingers crossed that the Aussie cricketers bring it home against the Indians!

The Wind in the Willows

If you're looking for a fun few hours with the kids, you could visit the Royal Botanical Gardens for an outdoor theatre production of the Wind in the Willows, performed by the Australian Shakespeare Company.  The Head Rabbit turns the audience into 'rabbits' too, and all are welcome to participate in the songs, dances and laughter of this interactive event.  This is the 28th year of the event, so if longevity is any indication of success, this production must be a winner.  Enjoy a summer's afternoon or evening in the gardens with a picnic and your family.  Sounds pretty great to me!

Grease the Musical

Now be honest, who doesn't love Grease??  All the singing and dancing, teenagers being good and bad, and Olivia and John making lovey eyes at each other.  If you feel like getting your happy face and feet on, you can still check out Grease the Musical at Her Majesty's Theatre until the end of January.

'Friends, Foes & Super Heroes' Sand Sculpting Exhibition

From Boxing Day, if you head down to the Frankston waterfront, you'll see all kinds of characters and superheroes sculpted in sand at the 'Friends, Foes and Super Heroes' Sand Sculpting Exihibition.  From Minnie and Mickey Mouse, to Buzz Lightyear and the Incredible Hulk, and Darth Vadar and Yoda from Star Wars, you're sure to find your favourite.  There are also a bunch of other interactive children's activities including Sand Sculpting Workshops, a Lego Play Zone, and Disney Activity Zone.  You might find a few big kids there too!

Are you at home this weekend, or have you gone on a holiday?  What are your plans? 

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to quickly say Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful day with the special people in your life, full of love, happy times and great food.

I've spent the day with my family (sans my sister and her husband who are on their honeymoon - hi Bree and Thayne, we miss you!) and our close family friends.  We have had lots of fun, food (lots and LOTS!) and quite a few presents were shared to spoil each other with.

I couldn't really ask for more at Christmas, and it's a great reminder of how lucky I am.

Although Angus isn't really sure if it's a good thing, but he's the only one!

What has been your favourite thing about this Christmas?

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Thinking About Training Programs for 2015

I'm in Ballarat with my family for Christmas Eve - it's the best part of Christmas time for me!

It's also that time of year where we start thinking about the coming year, and what we want it to bring.  And for runners, that means thinking about your 2015 races and training programs!

At the moment I have a general idea of at least the key races I want to run  - July and October - and the challenge for me is to figure out a training program that keeps me interested all through the season, but also minimises the chance of injury and burn out.

The right training program for you is based on your own goals, experiences, body and lifestyle.  There is no one fits all training program, so don't be afraid to own yours, and do what works for you!

I went on the hunt for some training program inspiration, and found a bunch of resources that you might also find useful.

Training Program Resources

Online training program websites

There are stacks of websites out there with training programs in them, for all different distances.  Some of the ones I have looked at before include:

Race websites

If you have specific races in mind, and they are reasonably large races, you can usually find training programs for their different distances on the website, and even regular running groups leading up to the race.  I've used a couple of these programs to prepare for races. I liked that they had programs for beginners, intermediate and advanced runners.  Some local races that have training programs online include:

Running magazines and books

As much as I appreciate the internet as a resource, I also like buts of paper to refer to.  I subscribe to the Runner's World magazine, which releases training programs now and then.  You could also check out Women's Running.  I've also had a look at Running Times now and then.

Books are a great reference.  I love reading books about runners, and especially when they combine discussion about their training with their personal thoughts and views on running.  The mind of a runner is a unique and intriguing thing!  Some books I turn to for guidance and inspiration include:

Ask other runners


Other runners (and bloggers!) are always willing to have a chat about training, and to share their experiences.  In fact, I know that I can get a bit excited when I start talking about running and exercise, and people make excuses to walk away quickly.  Again, it is up to you to decide what is going to work for your body and your life, but you can get some great ideas about different ways to train.  But don't compare yourself to other runners either - you are doing an awesome job making running a regular part of your life, and other people have different lives and running histories.  Be proud of yourself, but also ask for help if you need it!

My Program Considerations

Finding a bunch of training programs online is great, but how do you make them work in your life?  There are a few things I consider when I'm planning my running program, because in the end, it has to work for me, or else it's just not worth it!

How much time do I want to (can I!) commit to my training?

You need to be realistic about how much time you want and can commit to your running, and other exercise pursuits.  We have busy lives, and we are not going to stick with a program that asks for too much, or results in sacrificing other important aspects of your life, like work and family.

I realistically think I can commit around an hour each day, six days a week, but only if I do my training early in the morning - the evenings can just throw up too many life obstacles that can derail my training plans.

When you decide on your runs, treat them like another appointment that you can't break. You wouldn't skip a run with a friend, so give yourself the same courtesy, and don't skip a run (or other workout) with yourself.

What are my goals?

I find it good to be specific about my goals for the year, running or otherwise.  I have a variety of goals, from running certain races (the half marathons at Run Melbourne and Melbourne Marathon), to running certain times (I'd love to do a sub 1:40 half this year!), to fitting in other workouts (I really want to keep up my weights training this year).  If you are working towards a specific goal, it makes it easier to make your training sessions a priority in your life.

What is my starting point?

It is really important to be real about where you are starting your training from.  I've had a tough year with a knee injury, and I know I'm still building my distance back up - compared to where I was this time last year.  So I'm going to be realistic about how long my long runs will be, how fast my speed training will be, and how frequently I should run.  I am aiming for three running sessions and three weights sessions each week.

Don't get injured

If you want to run in a race, you have to make sure that your body gets you there.  Listen to your body as you go through your training, and make sure you spend time managing aches and pains, whether that's quality time with your foam roller, regular massages, or making sure you include stretching and yoga into your week.  If you feel the beginning of an injury, get it treated, and rest if you need to.  Your body has to get you through many more years yet (hopefully running!), so it is better in the long run to be kind to it.

Mix it up

I'll be honest - until this year I didn't really believe cross training was worth it.  Running was where it was at, so I'd just keep running.  But then I got injured, and I started doing weight training and other cross training like spin classes to keep my fitness up.  I'm loving weight training, and I truly believe I've got a stronger body because of it, which will keep me fit and healthy for my running.  Alternating between weights and running also gives my body a rest day from each, so I feel fresh and rearing to go by the next training session.  So find a way to mix up your training - whether its running inside and outside, in groups or alone, or doing different cardio and strength training, and it will keep you running longer.

What do you think about when you set your training program for the year / a race?  What resources do you use to make a great training plan?

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas - Last Minute Edition

So it's a couple of days before Christmas, and you've realised that you forgot [BLANK]'s Christmas present.  Crap!  Here are a few ideas that can get you out of a gift bind.

Gift voucher from your supermarket

These days you can pick up gift vouchers to a range of retailers from your local supermarket.  the benefit of this is that supermarkets are open extended hours - sometimes even 24 / 7.  So if you realise you have a gift you need immediately, you can probably find something appropriate at your local supermarket.

Some of the gift voucher retailers / services I've seen at supermarkets are:

Magazine subscription

If you know the person you are buying a gift for at all (hopefully you do!), a voucher for a magazine subscription for the coming year can be a great idea.  As a bonus, you can usually go online, and print out a gift receipt to put into a card.  Easy!

The website that I use for magazine subscriptions is iSubscribe.  You can pick up all kinds of magazine subscriptions, including:

Online gift voucher

The trick with gift vouchers is to make sure they are particularly chosen for the person you are giving them too.  You need to show some thought, and reason behind why you chose that particular gift voucher.  I think gift vouchers can be underrated - they give the person the choice of how to use them, and often I'll choose something that I know the person wouldn't buy for themselves.

Some ideas are:

  • iTunes - for someone who loves music
  • Amazon - for your literary friends
  • Spa / Massage (such as Endota Spa) - for anyone really!  But especially someone who needs some pampering
  • Cinemas (maybe Village Gold Class) - for the film buff
  • Accommodation (like Wotif) - for someone who needs a weekend away
  • Bunnings / Masters - for someone renovating / moving into a new house
  • Wiggle - for sporting buddies
  • Any other retailer you know they love!

Baking in a jar

In the last few years I have seen some great gift ideas that are dry ingredients for favourite recipes.  From cookies and brownies, to pancakes and scones, all you need to do is buy some airtight jars (which will also come in handy), layer some dry ingredients in them, and add a little note with cooking instructions, and any other ingredients they will need.  You can pick up most bits from your local supermarket, and you can make a bunch at once to give when needed.

Wine / Spirits / Beer

It sounds a bit passe, but if you know someone who enjoys their alcoholic beverage, they will surely appreciate receiving it at this time of year!  Again, the trick to giving something generic like alcohol is to make it specific to the person you are giving it to.  Maybe you shared an awesome weekend at the beach - you can give them the makings of those margaritas you all loved.  Or if they've just returned from Europe, some French wine or Irish whiskey can  have them reminiscing about their trip.  Make it personal, and it will be a great gift!


Most of us love a new plant in our lives.  Whether it's something small for your desk at work, or some herbs for your backyard or patio, a plant can be picked up from your local outdoor store, plus a pot and some soil, and in 5 minutes you have a great gift.  Some herbs or vegetable seedlings can be a great idea for a foodie or green thumb.  And a lucky bamboo can be wonderful for someone who's had a tough year.

But just so you know, don't get me a plant.  History shows that it probably won't survive a month.

Give to a charity on their behalf

Sometimes you have someone you know who has EVERYTHING.  Any gift you think of just seems to have been done before.  If they really don't need anything, then maybe you can give them something that is actually for someone else - a charity or cause they are passionate about.  They may have adopted a dog from a certain pound, or know someone who is recovering from cancer.  There are so many amazing charities out there, and many of us realise they are in more need than we are.

Some of the charities that I personally feel drawn to are:

What would you get someone as a last minute gift?  What charity has special meaning to you?