Entertaining Friends – The Healthy Way!

I had some girlfriends come over for afternoon tea on Saturday. In the past I would have seen this as an excuse to have chips, chocolate, wine, dips and other calorie-laden treats but this time I did things a little differently and I served:

  • carrot, celery and capsicum sticks
  • homemade guacamole (1/2 a mashed avocado, 1/2 the juice of one lime, dashes of cumin, chilli, garlic powder and paprika and sea salt and pepper)
  • homemade tzatziki (1 cup of low-fat Chobani with 1/2 a clove of garlic, 1/2 the juice of one lemon and 1 lebanese cucumber, diced) 
  • baby boconcini and 1/4 a small wheel of brie for a cheese fix
  • homemade coconut rough (about 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, few tablespoons of cocoa or cacao, a splash of agave syrup or stevia and shredded coconut mixed together and frozen into bite size pieces – this makes a lot!)
  • strawberries and blueberries
  • tea and coffee

We had a great time and the girls loved the food! They couldn’t believe that the coconut rough was not actually chocolate!  My friend had to ask me several time how I made it.😉  (I wish I had some photos to share but I lost my iPhone!  Boo!)

The best part about it was I didn’t feel guilty afterwards.  In the past I would have regretted my decision to have a bazillion chips, endless handfuls of crackers and a whole wheel of cheese to myself (okay, maybe exaggerating a little but I have no doubt I could have devoured a whole wheel to myself back in the day!).  

But on Saturday I felt no regret whatsoever.  I had a wonderful time gossiping with my girls, all the while keeping my figure in check by noshing on some tasty, healthy fare.

Be an example to your friends or family at your next get-together and try the above!  You will be surprised how much they enjoy it!

 

Sarah Taylor’s Top 10 Tips to Beat Weight Loss Confusion

So, your diet is going great and you’re losing the weight you want to lose – that’s awesome! You’re feeling more energetic, looking better and feeling better every day – it’s easy, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

Are you confused about weight loss? Overwhelmed with conflicting information?

How come?

Could it be something to do with the daily bombardment of advice that we get in magazines, diet books, weight loss advertising, through our friends, facebook… I mean who and what do you believe?

Is sugar bad for you? Are eggs bad for you? Don’t eat red meat, it’ll raise your cholesterol – do eat red meat, it will lower your cholesterol, eat your greens, eat organic because the pesticides in supermarket food are toxic, high protein is bad for you, high carb is bad for you, carbs are evil, eat wholegrain bread instead of white bread, count your calories, count some points, is red wine better for you than white wine? Can I have hot chips? Should I eat breakfast?  What if I skip breakfast? Have a shake for breakfast and you’ll feel full ALL DAY! No carbs after 3pm, no caffeine after lunch, caffeine is bad for you, caffeine will help you burn fat, eat fat, don’t eat fat, low fat is bad because if they take out the fat, what have they replaced it with? Eat clean, eat like a caveman, go gluten free…

AAARRGGHHH!!! Stop already! My brain hurts!

It’s not easy is it? I know, I’ve been there!  Don’t believe me?

Let me start at the beginning:

That was me in Sept 2009 – aged 40, 76kg, 160cm, 33% Body Fat, 34 BMI = Obese! EEK!

This was me in Sept 2011 – aged 42, 51kg (25KGS lighter!!! Yay!), 160cm, 5% Body Fat, 18BMI = Miss Figure Victoria (Novice):

I got there via here (Sept 201o):

And here (June 2011 Oxygen Magazine Covergirl Competition):

Now, you don’t have to go as far as I did – you can stop anywhere along the way!  But the point is I have been where you are, I know just how confusing it can be.

I have battled with the noise – both internally and externally. I learnt how to focus on what matters and with that came the results I desired. You can do it too, really you can!  So, here’s a few little helpers!

I guess the first thing I did was I learned to listen to what my body was telling me. You see, I used to eat what my partner ate and I ate according to his schedule.  Now, he would get home at night generally about 8:30 – 9 and we’d eat a full meal – spag bol, kangaroo with mash and roast veggies, gluten free chicken schnitzel with mash and veg… and wine!  He worked in the wine industry so there was always something yummy kicking around and it would be a crime to waste…  :-p

Now, I was doing plenty of exercise – 3 hours tennis/week, 1.5 hours badminton.  I don’t own a car so I cycled or walked everywhere, but here’s tip #1 – the most important! In fact, I’m going to bold it! –  you can’t out-exercise a poor diet.

Not that my diet was poor, per se… I’m a coeliac so I can’t eat junk, I can’t eat pre-made meals, or most packet and tinned foods. About 90% of the food aisles in the supermarket I don’t even look at because I can’t eat the stuff! So, I’ve always eaten lots of fruits, veggies and fresh home cooked meals and I hardly ever drank soft drinks or ate chocolate or cakes – just don’t have a sweet tooth. Lucky me!

So, how did I get to photo evidence A?  Simply too much food and alcohol at the wrong time of day (i.e. when my metabolism has slowed down and is ready for bed I’d load it up with a huge meal)! No wonder I was always feeling sluggish, tired and not sleeping very well! My body was telling me that I was doing the wrong thing.

Check it out – are you eating the same amount of food as your significant other? Are you smaller than them? If so you probably should be eating smaller portions than them… tip #2🙂

So, what changed? Well, I separated from my partner (not suggesting you do this!) and I started eating when I felt hungry, which leads me to Tip#3 – learn what hunger feels like.

Often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually thirsty.  So, what I did instead of reaching for some fruit, or nuts or other snacks, I’d drink a big glass of water and wait 20 mins. If I still felt hungry after that, then I figured I was actually hungry and I’d eat something.

An additional benefit of doing this was that I was drinking more water per day (which we all know is good for us) so I actually was getting less hungry! And therefore eating less overall on a daily basis… Bonus!

Tip # 4 – drink more water – I know, everybody goes on about that one, but it works!

I also learned what my body liked and didn’t like in terms of food. For example, when I ate mashed potato or hot chips, I felt fat.  When I ate dark green salad with crunchy raw veg  or veggie stir fry with chicken or tuna, I felt light. When I drank orange juice, I felt fat.  When I had a fruit smoothie made with berries and apple juice, I felt good. When I ate yoghurt and berries, I felt light. When I ate muesli or cereal, I felt fat..

So, I cut out bread, rice and potatoes – only during the week mind you!  I was not going to give up my green eggs and ham on gluten free toast for my Saturday brekky! No way!  And I’d have pasta or rice on the weekend, if I felt like it. I ate LOTS of veggies and I became a bit of a whizz at fresh veggie stir fry! Which brings us to…

Tip #5 – be aware of what, how often and when you eat and make note of how it makes you feel.

So often we eat emotionally and we’re not even aware of it. Awareness of your emotional relationship with food is going to be a big factor in your weight loss success.

If you eat something and feel good and not bloated/fat/guilty, then eat more of it (in moderation!).  So, for example, you might eat that whole block of chocolate and feel good… but check in with yourself… do you REALLY feel good afterwards?

Really??? Be honest now – what about that niggling little voice at the back of your head that is now giving you a hard time… doesn’t feel so good now does it?

Would you have felt better if you’d eaten a big bowl of strawberries with a small dollop of cream? Naughty enough to be nice! And nice enough not to blow a ton of calories🙂

Tip #6 – Keep a food diary if you want!  I did and it sure as hell made me sit up and take notice! It can be quite confronting, but trust me on this – if it keeps you accountable, then it’s invaluable!

You know what? Your mum was right when she told you to eat your greens! Tip #7 – dark green veg and dark green leafy veg are some of the most nutritious, low cal, high fibre foods you can get.  You can load up your plate with them, they’ll make you feel full and you won’t blow any calorie or points budgets you might be counting.

Your body will have to work hard to digest it. You’ve heard that celery takes more energy to digest than you obtain from it? Eat your greens as well… cunning!

A typical, everyday lunch for me now is 120g fish, spinach, rocket, tomatoes, snow peas, chia seeds, broccoli and cucumber.

Looks like a lot, right?

Yet my body burns through it like you wouldn’t believe and about 3 hours later I eat again!  On heavy training days my afternoon snack is almost as big! True!

What else did I do?

Well, I did start doing more exercise. Tip # 8 – Exercise is a crucial part of your success!

You see, I decided to climb Mt Kilimanjaro (I needed to ‘find’ myself again – 40 and single after 10 years? A bit scary!).  I won’t go in to just how much exercise because it was an insane amount – 3 hours a day/5 days a week for 9 months! I’m not suggesting you go to this extreme, but you do need to be more active and you need to use your time as effectively as you can.

Train smarter not harder! Would you believe I only do 20 mins of actually lifting weights/day 5 times a week as a bodybuilder now? Absolutely true!  Lift for a set, rest 2 minutes, lift for a set rest for 2 minutes – so therefore 60% of my standard training session is actually resting! Yet the results speak for themselves.

Find something you enjoy, mix it up and include some form of weight bearing/resistance training! Weights build muscle, which require more energy to sustain and speeds up your metabolism.

And that leads to tip #9 (this is a big one too!) – find something other than the number on the scales to focus on.

Ask yourself why do you want to lose weight? Is it peer pressure, family pressure, is it just about the number on the scales?  Why have you picked that particular number? How do you know it’s the right weight for you? Your body has a set point and it will fight you every step of the way if you try to go lower than that.  You need to find a reason other than a number on a scale.

How about being the healthiest version of yourself you can be, that is sustainable for the rest of your life, maybe?  Or being there to see your kids grow up, or being able to look after the grandkids? What is it that inspires YOU?

When I decided to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, I started doing more exercise to get up the mountain. The fitter I got, the more I naturally wanted to eat healthy fresh foods.  The healthier I felt, the more I wanted to feel healthy.  Do you see how you can get a good positive reinforcement going? The weight loss was a massive bonus, but it wasn’t my main focus – I wanted to climb a mountain and the figure competition? A totally unexpected opportunity that came about because I got healthy and climbed a mountain🙂

I think that’s it really! I learned to listen to myself and do what felt right for me – not what I’d read in some book, not what I’d seen on TV, not whatever the latest and greatest fad diet was. I don’t diet, I’ve never dieted (except for competition, but that’s “manipulation”!).  You see, a diet has a start and an end point and when it ends, and you go back to doing what you were doing before…  what happens? Your weight goes back to where it was before!  That sucks!

So, tip #10, the real secret behind getting the weight off and now keeping it off is that I made my health my priority and I changed my lifestyle accordingly – being active every day and eating a balanced diet of fresh, unprocessed, whole foods in moderation has become how I live… and if I feel like some chocolate or a slice of cake then so be it, I enjoy it – I don’t beat myself up over it, I just eat sensibly the next day.

Give it a try, the only thing you’ve got to lose is a few unwanted kilos :-p

P.S. Just as a side note – after my competitions I put on 9kg in 2 months! Yikes!  For some reason I started getting sweet cravings – my body was telling me it needed to get back to healthy levels of fat, so I listened again and if I felt like chocolate or cake than that is what I ate!  In moderation though, max twice a week!🙂

Since Christmas I have re-implemented my tips, especially #7 and I’ve have lost 6kg in 3 months even though I’m not doing any exercise at all due to double shoulder surgery.  I’m now maintaining a happy balance between 54-55kg.

Good luck!  I would love to hear your inspiring stories!

Sarah

Figure & Physique Magazine

figurephysiquemagazine@gmail.com

Clean Eats: Buckwheat, Banana & Vanilla Protein Pancakes

You asked for it!  So, here it is!  The recipe for my delicious, wheat-free, all-natural pancakes!  Get these into ya!

Ingredients (makes 6 pancakes, 3 serves)

  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 cup of buckwheat flour
  • 1 scoop of low carb vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (I use the Blue Diamond brand)
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 tbs extra virgin coconut oil (to oil the pan)
  • 3 heaped tbs of Non-fat or low-fat unflavoured greek yoghurt, to serve (I used the Chobani brand)
  • 3 tsp of agave syrup, honey or all-natural maple syrup, to serve

In a bowl, combine the banana, buckwheat flour, protein powder and almond milk and mix or blend well.

Next, mix in the egg whites until all combined.

Heat a little coconut oil in a pan over medium heat.

Take about 1/2 a cup of the pancake mix and pour into the pan, moving the pan around to create a round shape.

Cook until bubbles form on top (about 2 minutes) and then flip and cook on the other side for an additional minute or 2, or until cooked through.

Serve with the greek yoghurt and a drizzle of agave syrup, honey or maple syrup.

Nutritional info, per serve:  312 calories, 42g carbs, 7g fat, 17g protein, 11g sugar

It is quite a carb-loaded meal so make sure this fits in with your daily macros if you have a weight loss goal!  Or save for a ‘carb-up’ meal or ‘clean treat’ meal.  Orrrr, my personal fav, use as fuel for an awesome back or legs sesh!  :)

 

 

 

Interview with Tamika Webber, Fitness Model

Photographer: Dallas Olsen
Hair & Makeup artist: Stacey Byers

I first came to know of Tamika Webber, 29, when I spotted her on Facebook.  She is one of the many beautiful fitness and sports model competitors of Australia’s Body Building scene that I have befriended on the social networking site.   Her enthusiasm jumped right out at me via her dazzling white, infectious smile and her body is simply incredible – the fittest of the fit!

I admired her physique, as I could tell she had worked damn hard for it, but it wasn’t until I saw her post the picture below on Instagram that I was able to fully comprehend just HOW damn hard she had to work for it.

Tamika – June 2012

You see, Tamika, like me, is a sufferer of PCOS.  When I learnt this I knew I had to contact her to find out more about her inspirational transformation.

Competition history:

ANB Central Coast (first  ever comp) – 3rd place – Sports Modelling

ANB Victorian Titles –  1st Place Posing Routine – 1st Place Overall  – Sports Modelling

ANB Natural Mania Physique Champs – 3rd Place – Fitness

INBA Classic – 3rd Place – Fitness

ANB Oxygen Nationals – 3rd Place – Sports Modelling

WNBF Asia Pacific Nationals – 1st Place – Class 2 – Sports Modelling

On stage at the WNBF Asia Pacific Nationals – First Place

You have always led a fairly active lifestyle however you became ill at one point and it made managing your weight quite difficult. Can you tell us a little about that time and what did you do to overcome it?

I have been involved in sports of various kinds since a young age. I began Equestrian (eventing) at the age of 4 until I was 21, competing at a National level for the Australian team until moving to the city to pursue my career as an Intensive Care and Emergency Room nurse and later, a Paramedic.

After leaving rural Victoria to pursue my career, I found the gym an incredible resource to unwind and de-stress!

My initial motivation came after I fell ill in 2007 with various digestive issues including a ruptured and twisted bowel and surgical adhesions. From this, coupled with my daily exposure to avoidable health related diseases, I endeavoured to make changes to improve my health and wellbeing having struggled with Polycystic ovaries also made weight loss a difficult task.

Tamika loves her job as a paramedic!

I have always admired your physique however it wasn’t until I learnt that you were a fellow sufferer of PCOS my admiration for you stepped up a notch! Could you tell us more about when you were diagnosed and what effects it had on your body? How did you combat it?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS poly = many, cystic = cysts) manifests itself in women in many different ways from infertility, obesity, acne, balding, abnormal hair growth to just name a few. It’s one of the most common female endocrine disorders effecting between 1 in 10 women and most unaware they have it until they attempt to conceive.

For me it was clearly evident in my skin. I struggled to have a day without clusters of acne. I attended countless skin clinics, though the headaches from not getting any answers only gave me more acne, a rise in cortisol (stress hormone) and fluid retention.  My weight elevated which then resulted in poor self esteem.

Most women dread their monthly visitor. For me, if my period arrived, it was huge relief as this meant my body wasn’t producing excess androgens.  Androgens are primarily known as male hormones, however female ovaries also secrete a small amount of these and are converted into estrogen.  Androgens also regulate libido, hair growth and activate oil glands in the skin hence, as androgen levels rise, not all are converted into estrogen and they somewhat solidify around the ovary stopping ovulation.

Apart from the occasional pimple you may think this doesn’t sound all bad news as having more male hormones usually means your leaner and more muscular.  Unfortunately, with PCOS, it is quite the opposite as with the elevation in androgens comes an inability of the body to utilize it’s circulating blood glucose adequately. This is known as Insulin resistance. Certain cell types such as fat and muscle require insulin to absorb glucose. When these cells fail to respond blood glucose levels rise resulting in increase fat stores, hence most suffers of PCOS battle obesity.

From dermatologists to hormonal endocrinologists and many months  of trial and error later I have found a contraceptive pill that keeps my hormones within a range that my body can adequately utilise circulating blood glucose.

I now take Loette, a less than commonly used pill that suited my hormonal imbalance. I still have periods of excessive bloating (another side effect of hormonal instability is slowing of bowel peristalsis) and my most recent struggle with this was only 2 months ago.

Finally starting to get the bloating under control

So, after all of these battles, I am sure you can imagine my elation when I was finally able to take to the stage, half naked under scrutiny for my physique as a sports model.  It was a huge achievement for me as my weight loss and hormonal imbalance took nearly two years to regulate!

I am now currently prepping for my first figure competition, which is only 10wks away.  It has been a goal of mine for many years but I didn’t think it would be possible. Fingers and toes crossed – I’m nearly there!

Tamika has plenty to smile about now!


You are a shift worker and lead a very hectic lifestyle! How do you find time for your training?

In recent years I have spent 7 years at University studying various under graduate and post graduate degrees to better my understanding of anatomy and physiology.  Studying coupled with working full time between 10-15hrs shifts as a Paramedic, I quickly learnt that maintaining equilibrium within my life is simply a matter of time management.

There are days where motivation runs thin and I am completely exhausted. However, training is a passion and an outlet to relieve the days stressors for me.

To maintain balance I have found it is important to listen to your body as well as surround yourself with positive-minded and supportive people.

What does your diet typically consist of? Does it change much during comp prep?

I try to keep my diet somewhat consistent all year around as I dabble in various forms of fitness modeling when I am in off-season.

I aim to eat a high protein, moderate carb moderate fat, low sugar diet including lots of leafy greens, fish, chicken and rice.

If you had one piece of advice for women who are looking to make a transformation or lifestyle change, what would it be?

I would advise them to set small goals as a mark on their journey to their dream body.  Small goals are achievable but often we all get overwhelmed and lose track of the bigger picture.  Find an internal reason to want to make positive changes and take it just a day at a time…  continuity is the key.  Good luck! : )

Transformation Story: Chrissie

WARNING: This post will probably inspire the pants of you.  So don’t blame me when you find yourself pantless by the time you finish reading this.  I am not to blamed!  I warned you

Readers, meet Chrissie.

Chrissie (161cm 65kg) with her fiance Sam

What a cutie, huh?   Would you believe that only 2 years ago she was 125kg?  I KNOW RIGHT?!  Mind = blown!

Before and after

I met Chrissie on a fitness website and we soon forged a close friendship.  We have only met in person a handful of times but she is someone I now call a very good friend.

Chrissie is just one of those people in life that you are so thankful for knowing.  She inspires me every day with her positive outlook and sunny disposition.  And she has such an amazing story to share with us today!  I do hope you enjoy and am inspired by her as much as I am.

Chrissie, you have done SUCH an incredible job with your weight loss and have really turned your life around!  What was the turning point for you to make you realise you wanted to lose weight?

Thank you so much Mandy, you were part of the amazing support network who helped me believe in myself. I totally reckon that the encouragement and belief from my partner, my friends and peers was the key to my success!

I never really believed I could do it, but always wanted it to happen sooo badly! My official turning point happened in June 2010; I saw myself naked in front of a mirror and just cried at the sight of my morbidly obese body… It was so repulsive!! I couldn’t understand why I had let myself get to that point!!!

So, where did you start?  What were the first lifestyle changes that you implemented?

I’d made feeble attempts in the past because I’ve been overweight since primary school. I’d tried everything like meal replacement shakes, Lite n Easy, circuit-based women’s gyms, bootcamps, starving myself, detox diets etc. with a bit of short-term success, but no long-term/sustainable results.

In 2010, a new gym opened near my work and I thought I’d trial it because it was really convenient. As soon as I walked in, the owner/operator did something that no one else had done before: she took the time to educate me as well as train me.

I wasn’t just another number, she made me and my goals feel important and achievable, and she taught me about proper nutrition, the importance of weight training, and how to run properly. I had always searched for the quick fix, but Robyn (the gym owner) helped me learn that wholesome nutrition, exercise and persistence are the keys to success.

So the first changes I made were mainly to my eating; I ditched white bread/pasta/rice/sugar and replaced it with wholemeal/wholegrain products, low-gi veggies and fruit, and brown rice. I increased my protein and healthy fat intake, and I started learning about how to lift heavy weights.

Can you tell us what a typical days worth of eating looked like when you were overweight?

Haha sure, but it’s not pretty!

Breakfast: a can of Red Bull or V, or a latte

Morning tea: ham & cheese croissant, chocolate Big M, a donut or muffin

Lunch: Usually take away, eg. Noodle box, or KFC, or pasta

Dinner: Pasta or meat with rice or chips

Dessert: Chocolate and large serve of ice cream

And what does a days’ worth of eating look like now?

Breakfast: 1 whole egg, 3 egg white omelette with seasonal vegetables cooked in coconut oil

Snack 1: Tuna salad and a handful of nuts

Lunch: Chicken breast with steamed veggies and sweet potato

Snack 2: Can of tuna followed by fresh fruit or raw veggie sticks with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter

Dinner: Fish, beef, or chicken with a mountain of salad, or stir fried or steamed vegetables

After dinner: bowl of fruit with a dollop of yoghurt

What about exercise?  I understand you used to do a lot of running and cardio activities at one point.  Does that differ at all to how you train now?

Yep, I started off training with weights but then became addicted to running soon after. I joined a great running group and set a goal to complete my first 12km fun run in 65 minutes or less.

Even though I had gained a little bit of muscle in the beginning, weight training eventually took a back seat to running. I got to a point where I was running 40-50km per week which helped me smash my running goal, but I had lost a significant amount of the muscle in the process.

Losing muscle meant that my body wasn’t as strong as it could have been. I also experienced internal issues such as the loss of my period (amenorrhea).

So shortly after the run, my fitness peers and friends suggested that I spend some time rebuilding my body by focussing on muscle building which has been the best thing I could have done for myself.

I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, albeit a little higher in body fat %, and I’ve sculpted a figure that I love!

At the moment, I’m weight training 5 times a week and as well as a combination of low-intensity cardio and HIIT/circuit training.

Sexy legs!

Tell me about the emotional side of weight loss.  Have you been affected at all mentally or emotionally by your weight loss and how do you combat this?  I know for me personally it was quite a mental adjustment from being an obese girl and then all of a sudden seeing a much fitter, smaller girl in the mirror and in photos! 

Gosh, you hit the nail on the head with that statement there!! It truly is a surreal experience and I think that the longer you’ve been overweight, the harder the mental adjustment.

At first, I was in denial. People would tell me how different I looked, but I would completely deny or disbelieve their words. It was a war between what I saw and what I believed, and for a long time, I simply couldn’t see the positive changes. But that probably stemmed from a long life of self-loathing and poor self-esteem.

Haha funnily enough, one of the first things that helped me combat it was to go shopping!!!!! Typical girl! But in all seriousness, when I first went clothes shopping after about 3 months of losing weight, I walked into shops and tried on sizes that I’d never even touched before! It was the most thrilling feeling in the world! It sounds so superficial but it felt so gooooood to wear brands I’d always loved from afar or dresses that I’d seen in magazines. Even buying shoes were a shock! I slowly went from a size 8 to a size 6 and a half!!

But aside from shopping, the biggest, most life-changing way I overcame my mental demons was through the beautiful support network that surrounded me. My fiancé continuously believed in me and gave me the love and energy I needed to succeed. I became friends with people like yourself and our mutual friends, the PTs and staff from my gym and other fitness advocates, and we shared our highs and lows; we encouraged each other during our weaker/darker times and celebrated our milestones and achievements.

I’m constantly learning from these people as well, especially from my mentors Charlotte Hailey and Robyn Reimers who are always teaching me new and better approaches. I reckon that it’s so important to keep on learning!

There were some people in my life who responded negatively to my journey which was hard to understand, but I’ve since learned to embrace the positivity instead.

The only other thing that will remain a constant reminder of my obesity is my loose skin. Even at my leanest weight and body fat, I had a thick pouch of excess, stretch-mark riddled skin that will probably never go away.

Often people ask me if I’d ever get it surgically removed but my answer has always been the same: the only person I want to impress is my fiancé, and he doesn’t have any issues with it at all, so nah, I’m not going to get it removed at this stage. The surgery is really expensive and if I have children, there’s a chance that the skin will stretch again anyway. If the loose skin is the biggest problem that I have to deal with, then I’m truly grateful because there could be much worse.

You’re getting married soon!  So exciting!  Can you tell us a little bit about how your partner sees your weight loss journey?  Was he supportive and encouraging? 

Yes! November 17, 2012 is our big day!! I am so excited and cannot wait to say I DO!

Sam met me when I was about 90kg, and he loved me at my worst just as much as he loves me at my best. His support and love is so unconditional that I sometimes have to pinch myself. No one has ever believed in me as much as he does, and it’s given me this inner energy that I never knew existed.

He is always honest when I ask him for feedback and pulled me back when he saw that I was pushing myself a bit too far, because at times, my determination would outweigh reason. He knows me so well and is always there to hold my hand, which I am so thankful for. I would not have succeeded in my transformation without him!

The happy couple!

Thank you so much Chrissie for sharing your story with us!  Before I let you go, what is your number one piece of advice to others who are looking to lose weight?

No, thank you Mandy for giving me this opportunity! And thank you for being a wonderful role model to people around the world!

Hmm, my number one piece of advice is to THINK, BELIEVE, AND LIVE POSITIVITY! No matter your circumstances, you can make change, you just have to be positive🙂 We have clients in our gym who have physical and intellectual disabilities, or have survived cancer… and yet, they are in our gym 3-4 times a week doing what they can with what they’ve got. They are my inspiration!

Being positive can transform your life. Ask yourself, will you be a history maker?

Clean Treat: Banana, Peanut Butter & Coco-Cacao Bites

I got the idea for this where a lot of my ideas stem from, Pinterest. It is such an awesome site! I seriously could model my life off that site – from my hairstyle, to the way I paint my nails, to the clothes I wear, to the workouts I do, to the things I put in my mouth… It gets my creative juices flowing in every way! I just can’t get enough of it!

The image I saw on Pinterest was basically just slices of banana with peanut butter dolloped in between each slice and then frozen. Genius! But I decided to take this to a whole new level, as I do with most things, and thought, “Oh… My… God… What about if I dip them in melted coconut & cacao butter before freezing?!”. And then shortly after THAT thought, THIS thought popped up, “Oh no, hold up, WAIT! What about if I dip them in melted coconut & cacao butter then rolled them in shredded coconut before freezing?! YES, THIS WILL HAPPEN RIGHT NOW!”. And up I sprang and dashed into the kitchen.

I used Sanitarium’s Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter and Artisana’s Cacao Bliss Raw Chocolate Coconut Butter (I bought this from Norton St Grocer in Bondi Junction, Sydney).

Also, apologies, I don’t really measure things when I am creating in the kitchen so I don’t have any macros or calories for you! But I found 3 or 4 of these little babies were enough to satisfy a sweet craving without feeling like I had gone overboard!

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Ingredients at the ready!

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Bananas sliced and topped with about a 1/4 of a tsp of PB

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Make a little PB sandwich with another slice of banana

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Melt the Coco-Cacao butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds and stir well.

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Dip the banana in and coat evenly.

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Then coat with shredded coconut!

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Place on a tray lined with non-stick paper and pop into the freezer for 30 mins.

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Oh hai there my pretties!

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Om nom nom nom!

What is your favourite clean treat?

Q & A with Amanda Marie: Nutrition

A couple of weeks ago I asked my Facebook followers if they would like to partake in a little Q & A session with me, the subject being nutrition.

As most of you will know, I have lost about 30kg and achieved this through diet and exercise (with a focus on resistance/weight training) alone therefore I just love to share my tips and advice with others in the hopes I can help them do the same!

I hope you get something out of my answers below! If you have any more questions for me, please leave them in the comment box and I will consider them for a future Q & A post!🙂

My transformation through clean eating and exercise: October 2010 to March 2012

Susan asks: I admit I haven’t looked super-hard for the answer to this, but what kind of foods were you eating when you first lost weight/were losing the majority of your weight?

Throughout my whole weight loss journey my nutrition was focused around clean eating, that is, foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. I had my best results when I took my clean eating that one step further and ditched milk and wheat.

There are old blog posts on mevsthebulge.com that outline my typical diet at different points in time if you have a look through the My Progress category.

Tahlia asks: Are ‘Skinny Cow’ ice-creams bad for you?

I wouldn’t necessarily say any foods are “bad for you” but there are some that I believe should be avoided or consumed only on occasion if your goal is weight loss.

Foods that are packaged with the words “diet” or “sugar free” are usually on my no-go list as they often contain synthetic and artificial ingredients. I don’t consume TOO many of these types of products as in the past they have made me bloated and headachey. I’d much prefer to make my own healthy sweet treats!

Kelly asks: What is the best mix of macros, protein carb and fat or just protein with either carb or fat only?

I don’t believe there is any one perfect ratio that serves all people, however I do believe in balance and having moderate serves of all macronutrients. I usually recommend that as a starting point then seeing how that goes and adjusting as needed from there. I think it is important that you play with these macro ratios to find what works for you as an individual.

Rachel asks: What’s your opinion on carbs at night?

If you’re active at night then go for it! But generally I avoid grains at night and stick to foods like sweet potato or quinoa. Sometimes I ditch carbs at night altogether if I haven’t had a particularly active day and won’t be active the following morning.

Elouise asks: Do you have a good protein muffin recipe? What else can I eat for breakfast (sweet) instead of oats? And if I were to eat bread, which one is best?

There is a no-bake protein slice recipe on my Facebook page that you may like if you have a look through the wall photos!

As stated above, I generally avoid wheat however if you are one of the lucky few who doesn’t have a problem with wheat stick to wholemeal wholegrain or spelt varieties.

Melissa asks: Hi Amanda, did you ever reach that point getting the weight off when your body started plateauing? If so, what refinements did you make to kick-start again?

I plateaued regularly throughout my weight loss and blogged about this also if you do a little search on mevsthebulge.com!

It was a slow and arduous journey due to my PCOS so I was constantly changing things up in my diet and training. I would play around with my macros, my calories and my training split. The body loves change and is often shocked into weight loss again when you make the most minor of adjustments!

Madison asks: Nutrition wise, how would you reset your body’s set point? My body refuses to sit below 70kg. I know that the scales are misleading, however my body composition stays the same. If i do notice progress, it fights me! I’m always in a -500 deficit.

As per the above, it’s all about changing and varying your diet and training. Remember that as we lose weight we need to keep adjusting our calorie requirements. For example, your calorie requirements as 75kg woman is going to be different to when you are a 70kg woman so you need to work that out and re-calculate your deficit from there.

Monica ask: What are your thoughts on ‘slim pasta’ type products?

I’ve only recently started using this myself and love it! It’s all-natural, low in calories, fats and carbs and can be used as a great ‘filler’ in soups, stir-fries and sauces that you’d usually have with pasta.

Tanis asks: Do chia seeds really work to make you feel full or is this just another quick diet fix? I can’t imagine snacking on my chia pet…lol.

Yep – they really do work in keeping you full! They hold water and expand in your belly creating a ‘full’ feeling. They also are full of good fats which improves your satiety levels. I sprinkle mine in smoothies, in my oats and in salads. You can also make chia puddings (have a google for awesome recipes!).

Interview with Lindy Olsen, Editor of Oxygen Magazine Australia

Welcome to my first ever blog post for my new blog,  Daily Dose Fitness & Coaching!  And what an awesome first post it is, if I do say so myself!

In March this year I was fortunate enough to be sent to one of Australia’s largest fitness expos, FitX, to write a story on the IFBB show and the related expo on behalf of bodybuilding.com.

At that expo I spotted my idol, Editor in Chief of Oxygen Magazine AustraliaLindy Olsen, and made a bee-line for her.  I didn’t have any idea what I was going to say to her and had absolutely nothing prepared, but armed with my iPhone recorder and a nervous smile I asked the body building & healthy living inspiration if she would mind sharing a few words with me on the expo and the Oxygen philosophy.

Our conversation came at a perfect time.  I was just about to compete in my first ever Fitness Model comp and the words Lindy spoke to me about competing and living a healthy life stayed with me throughout the rest of my prep and my post-comp transition.

I will never forget that day and I can’t thank her enough for taking the time to speak with me.   I hope you get as much out of this interview as I did.  Enjoy!

Lindy Olsen on the cover of Oxygen Magazine (click the image to read her story)

Me: I thought I would come and talk to you especially because your magazine is something that I really am inspired by, it is one of the reasons I got into fitness. I lost 25kg and now I am competing in 5 weeks time! So I really wanted to come and talk to you!

L: That’s awesome, wow! Yay! *claps* Fantastic!

Me: Thank you! So, Lindy can you talk to me about what you are doing here today at FitX and what your message is to people?

L: Oxygen is for people who want to get fit without the fluff. No fluff fitness is our motto! This means you won’t find sexual content in our magazine, unlike some others in Australia. You also won’t find too many articles about makeup and beauty. While those topics are important, Oxygen focuses on health and fitness first and getting our readers results.

Aspiring Oxygen cover girls always ask us, “How do I  get on the cover? How do I market myself?” Every single time I tell these girls it’s all about being FIT and HEALTHY first and foremost. Anybody can be on a cover and look pretty! It’s about the person BEHIND that. It’s about having a positive attitude and being gracious. It’s about NOT being a diva.

Me: Yeah exactly. You see a lot of fitness models lately, with huge fan bases and you wonder, what message are they trying to send? Yes, you are pretty and fit looking, but what is your message to people who are inspired by you? For me personally I am trying to educate people, especially girls that are in the position I was in because I want them to realise that you CAN change and that it is possible.

L: Yes, it IS possible and you can do it in a healthy way if you choose to! I was the same as you – I lost 29kg and then competed in my first show nearly nine and a half years ago. I take pride in saying that I am 100% ridgey didge natural. I don’t even take Sudafed in the off-season, because I know that sometimes it contains pseudoephedrine. To me, that’s cheating if you’re competing in a natural federation! I believe it’s really important for an Oxygen cover girl to be a positive role model.

Lindy Olsen’s Transformation – via http://www.michaeltabban.com.au

Me: I am exactly the same, I don’t use stimulant-based pre-workouts or anything like that because I just think it is important to keep the body as clean as possible and when it comes time for me to be in the off-season I want to still live as clean and healthily as possible!

L: Yes, and that’s a really healthy approach! It’s an approach we are trying to educate both women and men on (men read the magazine too!). We want to make sure people understand that it’s not just about how you look. Anyone can go on a diet and be in shape, but it is whether they are healthy on the INSIDE that really counts. You can tell when someone is healthy on the inside- they glow!

Me: Yes, it’s the full picture!

L: That’s right! And people who are healthy on the inside don’t need to go on crash diets to get into or stay in shape, because they live and breathe health and fitness. Our cover girl, Lesley Maxwell, is in her 50’s.  She is completely natural and is in better shape than most 20 year olds! Her skin is just glowing because she eats well and trains hard. For her, it really is a lifestyle and THAT is the most important thing.

Lesley Maxwell – fit and fabulous at fifty

Me: That’s what I have been saying to girls as well. When I post my progress photos online and they are like how do I look like that? And I say girls, this is what 2 years of hard work and living and breathing health and fitness will get you! So if you want to look like this, then that’s how you do it!

L: People don’t realise it takes time to do it properly and the right way! I’m not having a go at anyone who chooses to do it another way, that’s their choice, but to me it is always about health. This is the message we want to make sure we send to all our Oxygen girls and readers in Australia. “It’s about fitness and looking good is just a side effect!” ~ Lindy Olsen

Me: That’s so true! That’s a perfect way to put it.

L: That’s the message that I have been drumming into readers for the last three and a half years, since I’ve been editing for Oxygen. I am BLESSED to do what I do. I love what I do! I am an athlete first and foremost, and that will never change, but I love having the ability to touch people’s lives. For example, the response this weekend has been incredible! I think I have taken over 300 photos!

Me: Make that 301 in a minute!

L: *Laughs* I am just so pleased that the message is getting out to people. It means more to me than any trophy or any title.

Me: It really is amazing what you are doing. I also love Clean Eating Magazine that Fitmedia have recently brought out! I read it on the plane over here and I can’t wait to try some of the clean recipes once I am out of comp prep! They look DELICIOUS! I can’t wait to vary up my diet again!

L: You know, for my comp preps I never cut out food groups. I still had yoghurts and all of those sorts of things. It’s just different styles of plans.  Some coaches do things differently to others and that’s okay.  It’s not WRONG, it just means their approach is different.

When I first started I didn’t have a lot variety either, but now I know my body well enough that I am able to do things differently.  It’s a trial and error thing. You will know more about yourself for the next time around and what works for you. That’s the part that’s really exciting! You’ll get down the track and be amazed at how your mindset and body has changed. And you will be excited about inspiring people around you, which you are already doing!

Lindy Olsen on stage at the Fame World Titles, 2010 – via Lindy’s Facebook page

Me: That’s what I am MOST excited about!

L: You’re already doing it with your fabulous blog! So don’t ever change who you are, or what you are doing, or the approach you are taking. It’s about being true to you and not jumping onboard bandwagons – just be who you are and be passionate about it. That’s when you will really start to shine and gain even more credibility. People will trust you when you speak, they will connect with you, and it is an amazing feeling when you touch their lives. And you don’t even realise you’ve done it!

People will come to you and say, “Oh my goodness! I want to do what you did!” They will see you are living, breathing proof of your healthy approach. So, don’t ever, ever compromise that. That’s the message you need to send to other people, and that is what I am trying to do with the mag.

Me: Thank you so much Lindy! That was really good, especially for me on a personal level!

L: It was my pleasure! Good luck with the comps!

Do you agree that looking good is just a side-effect of eating well and training hard?