Saturday, May 28, 2011

One of my children asked what I was eating and I replied “misery and ashes”. I was actually eating an anzac biscuit, but I was feeling depressed.

It’s St Johns Wort time of the month again, and my hormones are being evil.  I’m trying to find nice, joyful and interesting pictures to take for my Project 365, but everything I take pictures of makes me sad.

My oldest daughter’s first disco was supposed to be exciting, but she lost her glow-bangle and her jumper and when I went to collect her, instead of begging to stay longer she said sorrowfully “can we go home now?”

The cute piggies I went to feed this morning just looked like Death Row prisoners, waiting for the final day.  I almost had an anxiety attack going over to feed them too, which I think is another PMT symptom.  I had to go through 3 electric fence spring gates, and through a field that may or may not have contained a large bull, all of which fill me with dread at the best of times, but during Hormone Week make me feel like I am about to dive off a tall building with nothing but knicker elastic holding me up.

Spring gates scare me because I have been zapped going through them a number of times:

The girls are fighting, the baby just wants to get into the cupboards and Mapera tried to poke a hairpin into an electrical socket this morning.
 Is it wrong to tell your child calmly that if they do that, they will die?  She was a bit scared I think.  I don’t want her to develop some sort of socket-phobia, but I figured it was serious enough for Mummy’s Quiet Voice.

I would really love for someone to just drop in for a visit on Saturday afternoons, someone with lots to talk about, and maybe some chocolate…or cake…or diazepam.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Argh no time for writing, thank goodness for previously written emergency blog posts.

Ten truths about me

My psychologist started this one with me, but we got sidetracked discussing why I feel guilty about just about everything, so I thought I’d have a go here:

  1. I am honest
  2. I am lazy
  3. I am enthusiastic
  4. I am anxious
  5. I am funny
  6. I am impatient
  7. I am easily distracted
  8. I am loving
  9. I am almost unshockable
  10. I am hopeful

What are 10 truths about you?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Realistic ways to lose weight permanently

I hate diets. Diets are designed to force people into focusing so much on what they are eating that it stops being food and starts being a science project.

I have tried a lot of diets in my life, low-cal, low-fat, low-sugar, low-carb and one insane starvation diet where I drank lemonade made from maple syrup, lemon juice, water and chili powder for a week.

They all worked when I stuck to them, but you could force yourself to stick to a diet of twigs and pond scum and it would work.

I worked for a company that made fitness equipment back in the BC days (Before Children). It was a common practice among the women of the office to ask the various sales managers, fitness experts and marketing gurus for a gym program to use in the office gym.  I was no exception.

One trainer gave me the best program I have ever had, easy to stick to, involved no special training or equipment, needed no crazy food plan to follow.  I refused to follow it, didn’t think it would work, thought he was being facetious.

It took 6 months of him repeating the plan every time I asked for it to finally sink in. I didn’t need to do stupid diets or kill myself in the gym every lunchtime; I finally accepted his advice as sound.

Eat less. Move more.

It took a further 5 years for me to follow the plan properly, with some help from Paul McKenna’s hypno CD and a healthy dose of psychotherapy for other issues.

I have stopped thinking of some foods as “bad” and some as “good”.  Food is food, some tastes better than others, and some have more nutrients, some less.  Some are just pure fat, salt and flavour enhancers (mmmmmm) but it’s all just food.

The hypno CD helped me to stop and listen to my body and to SLOW DOWN when I am eating.  It made me more aware of the food I was consuming, and therefore I enjoy it more and tend not to inhale it in order to get on with the next thing.  It also helped me to stop eating when I had had enough, and to be able to leave food on my plate.  I have now learned how much I need to eat and put less on my plate in the first place, so I don’t tend to leave anything now.

The psychotherapy helped me to start shedding my guilt-baggage I carry around, and the less guilty I feel about stuff, the less I focus on food either to comfort eat, or as something I have to feel bad about enjoying.

I am also getting better at being more active in my daily life.  I am not very good at following a consistent exercise program (I mean, who is?!), but I am pretty good at looking at the clock and going “oh, I’ve got 10 minutes before I have to be somewhere” and putting on some music to dance around the room.

I have two 1kg weights in my bathroom, and before my shower if the kids are playing nicely, I do 50 reps of something – tricep raises, bicep curls, squats or leg raises.  It takes 5 minutes.

I walk around when I’m on the phone; I squeeze my bum muscles when I am sitting at the computer; I tap my foot when we’re driving in the car (thank goodness for automatics!); I play tag with the kids and jump on the trampoline when the weather is nice, in the 15 minutes between finishing cooking and putting the plates out for dinner.

My weight loss is slow, and I am currently at a plateau but I have lost 15kg since Hakopa was born, and he’s 15 months old now. I am about to do a 10km walk which should bust the plateau and I am fitting into my size 14 jeans again.

I feel fitter and the more I do, the more I feel like doing.  It’s a positive feed-back loop and it can only get better.

To summarise, here are my top tips for changing your guilt-riddled food-obsessed mindset into one of enjoying food and exercise again:

  1. Stop denying yourself things, but don’t buy crap regularly.  If there is no food in the house that you do not have to cook in order to consume (other than fruit), then you can’t eat it.  I get my chocolate fix once a week when I fill up the car with fuel.
  2. Share your food.  Half a chocolate bar is still chocolate (mmm, smooth creamy chocolate), but you only eat half and your husband/child/best mate will think you’re really generous for sharing.
  3. Cook a new recipe once a week.  Trying out new tastes, textures and ingredients gives you enthusiasm for food and new ideas for eating better quality meals.
  4. Eat as much fruit and veg as you can possibly manage without turning your insides to liquid.
  5. Fidget.  Skinny people don’t sit still.
  6. Drink a full glass of water before every meal.  I am rubbish at sipping a glass of water while I am eating, so I down half a pint as quickly as I can then get on with the food.
  7. Fill 50% of the available plate space with fruit or veg before you add the protein and carbs, and eat that first.
  8. Keep a full fruit bowl out on the bench and put the crisps and biscuits out of sight.  I have my fruit bowl right by the computer, so it’s easier to eat an apple than get off my bum and rummage in the cupboard for TimTams.
  9. Dance every day, and sing too.  Put on something that makes you think happy thoughts and sing like you’re on x-factor.
  10. Love food, love yourself.  You do NOT have to feel guilty for enjoying food, food is ACE.  It is brilliant and lovely and tastes like rainbows and happiness.  Food keeps us alive and we are lucky to have the choice between the chicken wrap and the Mega Burger, unlike a large proportion of the world who have to survive on ½ a cup of rice a week.  We are blessed with bountiful, beautiful, glorious, delicious food, and it is a shame to deny yourself the pleasure of good, tasty, high quality food (and some shit that just tastes good).  Eat it, savour it, take your time over every mouthful and remind yourself why you LOVE this stuff.  Share your joy with friends and family, cook elaborate dinners for your mates and show them how much you love them and your food.

Eat less; move more.  Love food; love life.

Darwinian gardening

I am not a very good gardener.  Not in the sense that I can’t grow things, as my exuberant vegetable patch will show, but in the sense that I do not follow the rules of good gardening.

I look at the books about what time of year to plant things, and buy seed-raising mix and potting compost, but that’s about as far as it goes.  After my plants get their feet in the soil outside, it’s every chloroplast for itself.

I weed when I start harvesting dock seeds amongst the silver beet, and when the dandelions are getting as tall as the runner beans, but I figure they will only grow back if I pull them out too much, and as long as the veg are bigger than the weeds, then the veg is winning.

Tareka has been building me a third veg bed this week, so I am getting very excited about having more room to test the survival skills of cabbages and sweetcorn.  My broccoli has made it through the first onslaught of cabbage-white caterpillars with hardly a hole, so I believe it will imbue me with super-powers when I get to eat it.

My plan is to eventually have the veg rotated between the 2 beds (ah yes, I do crop rotation, I am a good ecologist after all!), and the third bed nearest the house as a sort of permaculture of herbs, rhubarb and beneficial or edible flowers.  I am planning to have patches of different herbs, which I can let go to seed so they regenerate themselves without too much input from me, other than the odd dose of Bokashi fertilizer.

I have some hedging plants I shoved into the ground which have gamely survived my callous treatment, and I have rosemary and lavender among them.  I will also be adding some bay so I don’t have to keep traipsing across the paddock every time I want 1 fresh bay leaf in my casserole.

The tomato/basil patch at the front of the deck proved to be a great hit with the children. So I have left them to go to seed and will mulch them over winter after the frost takes the plants out.  The fruit trees are showing no sign of dropping their leaves yet; I am sure they must have seen me in action with my pruning secateurs and are too scared.

I also succumbed to temptation and put in a small flower bed on one side of the deck.  I bought some bulbs from Mapera’s school fundraiser, and as the instructions say to plant them, and then leave them undisturbed for an extended period, I figure that they are my kind of flower.

Watch out for my mega-tulips in the spring, if they can survive me, they are bound to have magical properties.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

You called your baby WHAT?!

There is an ever-increasing trend of naming children with “different” names in the western world.  Whether it be the unwitting Chav-tastic parent choosing Chlamydia because they liked the sound of it, or the braying Sloane spelling Georgia with 2 Js so she’s the only one in her class, different names are everywhere.

There is even a section dedicated to it in our NZ “That’s Life” magazine, and about half the names are made up ones, where the parents have dismantled a perfectly ordinary name, added the initials of the family dog and an obscure reference to where the child was conceived and VOILA, Rrachbedel was born.

However, the other half of the names seem to have a significant meaning for the parents.  The name of a beloved family member, the mother’s maiden name, something meaning “gift” “beautiful” or “precious” in another language and I started to wonder about it all.

We named our children in a fairly traditional Maori way, in that they are named after important members of our family.  Mapera Teddie is named after both my Grandmothers; Mabel and Edwina (who most people knew as Teddie).  Kaitereo Helen is named after my Mother-in-law and my husband’s grandmother.  My mother-in-law is known as Mary, but her birth certificate says Kaitereo.  When she was a child, the Maori language was forbidden to be spoken, so her name was changed to an English one.   Hakopa Tom is named after his Daddy’s middle name Jacob, and my brother Thomas.

There is another, older Maori tradition of naming your child after an event that happens around the time of their birth.  Yes, I know you’re all thinking of that hilarious joke about the Native American boy with brothers named Flying Eagle and Running Bear, but this is true and taken very seriously by a lot of really big scary people over here, so no jokes please!

We have relatives whose names mean something along the line of “terrible tragedy” and I asked Tareka about them.  One was named this way because some close family friends were killed in a car crash, and the other was named so because there had been a lot of children die from influenza in the year they were born.  I asked him why people would give their children names with such negative connotations, and he wasn’t sure how to answer, so we asked our Kaumatua.

The reasoning behind this naming practice is because the events are important historically.  The Maori language and culture is based on spoken word, not written, so this is a way of connecting people to their family, their history and their land.  When you introduce yourself in Maori, you tell people where you are from before you give your name.  This means people know who you are and who your family is and where in the family you are connected to them.

So, whether the event was a tragic or a happy one, the name lets people know that you were born during a particularly important time and that you are linked to your people in a way that (as a Westerner) I don’t think I will ever properly understand.

However, if you call your kid Marshmallow, then that’s just mean.