June Challenges

I love long weekends. I really do enjoy my job, but an extra day off is always appreciated and just knowing that I don’t have to go to work on a Monday always gets me excited. It’s Queens Birthday Weekend this weekend, the last public holiday until October. That’s a daunting thought but it happens every year so we should be used to it. It’s also the last day of the month today which means new challenges start tomorrow!

Today marks the final day of my 60 Day Splits Challenge on Facebook. I still can’t do the splits, but I am closer than I was two months ago so I’ll be keeping that up. I have progressed in a lot of my yoga stretches because I was focusing on them so much more so I feel more flexible for it.

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Today was also the last day of #fit4freeSundays at my favourite gym, Les Mills, so I made it count. My best friend and I went and smashed out three classes and I can tell you now I will have sore abs tomorrow! Not that I have abs, I have a keg haha!

Next month, also known as tomorrow, I am starting three new challenges, all of them 30 day challenges. I was only going to do one as I don’t like to bite off more than I can chew but I’ve added two more in the last two days in the hopes it will keep me motivated. It’s getting really cold and I find it much easier to stay in bed instead of getting up early to exercise when it’s cold, so I’m hoping these challenges will keep me accountable.

The fist challenge is an Instagram yoga challenge, called #Negative2positiveprana.

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The idea of this challenge is to add the daily pose into your practice for at least that day, take a photo of you doing it (or attempting to) and then post it to Instagram. In the caption you are invited to share something negative in your life and how you are turning it into a positive, or something that has happened that you can now see the positive of. It might sound a little strange but I’m actually really excited about this. Part of my depression recovery has been about looking at situations in a different light and focusing on the positive so a daily reminder will be a great addition to my recovery.

The second challenge is a 30 day squat challenge on Facebook, it’s about endurance and toning. Tomorrow I need to work 50 squats into my workout, which I do most days anyway, but it gets harder. The thirtieth day I’m supposed to do 250 squats! Each day has a target number except for the seven rest days, to help you work up to the 250. I tried this one a few years ago and didn’t make it to the end, but this time I will.

My third and final challenge for June is a challenge that I am very excited about, #junkfreejune.

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This challenge is a nationwide fundraiser for the month of June. The idea is to cut out junk food for the entire month and raise money for The Cancer Society of New Zealand in the process. Due to my elimination diet I already don’t eat junk food, but as I mentioned in my post Berating Myself, I do eat far too much chocolate. It may have been a mistake to reintroduce this into my diet. So for the month of June I will be giving up all forms of chocolate (including cacao). My aim is to raise at least $200 for this cause and also to get back on track. Winter is the hardest time for me to stay healthy and active so this will be a huge help. Apologies to my Facebook followers in advance, I will be spamming my page with links to my sponsorship page.

If you would like to know more about Junk Free June you can do so here. If you would like to sponsor me you can do that here. I am also donating myself.

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What are your challenges or goals for June?

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Berating Myself

I’ve been feeling like I’ve fallen off track a little bit lately. I’ve slowly started sneaking more and more chocolate into my diet for one thing and I’ve been exercising less.

I’m at the point in my elimination diet where I can afford to take a day off. I don’t mean going all out and eating whatever I want, because that could potentially set me back, flare up my eczema and disrupt my sleeping patterns, but what I can do is have a food (just one mind) that is off the menu, provided I go straight back to basics for a few days afterwards and monitor for any negative effects on my body.

I had a housewarming party to attend on Saturday night and I had decided that if I took a week off reintroducing foods then I could have a drink. I did some research and factored in mixers etc and decided that a couple of wines would be alright.

Might pay to point out now that I have never been a wine drinker.

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Over the space of seven hours, I had the equivalent of four glasses of wine. And I had a really really good night. Met some new people, caught up with some people I hadn’t seen in a while enjoyed a bbq and even spent a few hours in the spa pool. By this stage I was feeling quite tiddly so I decided that bed might be in order.

This is where it went downhill. As soon as my head hit the pillow the room started spinning. I spent the next three hours in the bathroom with my head down the toilet. I was a mess. My friends came in to check on me and see if I needed help several times but I was so ashamed that I told them I was fine. I was determined that I was going to sort myself out and get into bed and not be a bother to anyone. Even though I couldn’t even hold myself up.

Obviously it got to a point where I didn’t have a choice and I needed help. I was so upset, I was crying and apologising over and over. I have never been that drunk in my entire life and I was so ashamed of myself. I’m 31, I’m old enough to know better really.

The next morning I didn’t feel too bad, a bit slow and tired, but mostly just embarrassed. Everyone was really good about it, having a wee giggle but reminding me that we’ve all been there. I was in a safe environment when I was drinking, but I just couldn’t stop feeling angry at myself.

This of course invited anxiety in and I’ve spent the last few days feeling like an absolute failure. About how I’ve not exercised much lately, how, while I’ve still been sticking to my diet I’ve been eating way more chocolate than I should and how I’ve been getting lazy and taking backwards steps as a result of this.

The more I’ve brooded over it, the worse I’ve felt. Add to that the migraine I had yesterday and I’ve given myself a pretty low start to the week

I managed to laugh about Saturday when I told the girls at work but inside I was still ashamed. But after four days of berating myself I’ve come to the realisation that it’s not the end of the world. I haven’t undone all my hard work. If I continue on this path, I potentially will, but it’s not too late to get back on track.

Realistically I haven’t been doing too badly. But the fact that I was able to get down on life for four days is a sign that I need to reassess. Starting off with not being mean to myself. It’s hard to be happy when you have someone picking on you all the time!

As far as drinking, I have learned from Saturday. First off, wine probably wasn’t a good choice, especially combined with a spa pool. And although I didn’t drink much compared to what I used to, I have to remember to pace myself. However it will be a while before I drink again.

I think we all have a tendency to be our own worst critics. If we let this consume us, it can be detrimental to our wellbeing and overall health. In my post Three Healthy Habits I suggested remembering that we are human and that we all make mistakes. Today I learned that I need to take my own advice, so I’m going to.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

A Weekend to Remember

Road trips are one of my favourite things to do and I don’t do them often enough. There’s something so freeing about packing a light bag and hitting the road to somewhere different for a few days. There is so much to see and do in my beautiful country and I want to do my best to do as much of it as I possibly can.

The weekend just been, Zombie and I packed up and headed down to the absolutely stunning Lake Tekapo, the second largest lake in New Zealand and a lovely little town about 3 and a half hours south of Christchurch. Zombie was playing in an ice hockey tournament, his first games in 15 years! We were both very excited about this.

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For me it was a break away, for Zombie it was game time. Because my elimination diet doesn’t go on holiday I had all my food prepared before we left on Thursday afternoon and stowed away in the chilli bin. This also made for less expenses!

Zombie had five games to play over the course of the weekend, his first being at 9.45 pm on the Thursday. I was a little apprehensive about him playing so late. We are both complete nanas so that’s a late night! But he was excited, not just because it was his first game but also because the rink in Tekapo is open air and he would be playing under the stars! I have to admit, it was incredible. And his team won!

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On the second day Zombie had two games. After the first game he struck up a deal with a goalie to swap for their next game. Back in the day he was a pretty good goalie so it was even more exciting for us. And he had a really good game, some awesome saves included.

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The Saturday night there was a social evening at the local pub. I had been dreading this part. A lot of my friends were there this weekend, so I shouldn’t have been worried about this part, but I was. Anxiety set in because I’m not good in large groups, especially somewhere noisy like a pub. I even posted a photo to my Instagram and Facebook explaining my nerves. To everyone who liked and commented and sent me messages of support after that, thank you. I had a good night. I did spend a little time alone freaking out but I was ok for most of it.

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Sunday was the last games, a prize giving and then home time. We decided to go up Mt John before heading home and I’m so glad we did. It was amazing! At the top is a cafe and observatory but the best part is the view. We were literally surrounded by mountains and hills, some of which were snowcapped! And the lake, it’s huge! An absolutely breathtaking view. We stayed there for a long time wandering around in awe.

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I had a wee slip up on the journey home. We stopped off at a craft brewery just south of Geraldine, the Valley Brewing Company to have a look. The owners were lovely and we struck up a conversation that lead to a couple of tasting samples. Without thinking I had a mouthful of one of them. I don’t even drink beer ever and here I was, tasting it! I hadn’t slipped up at all on my elimination diet in the seventeen weeks since I’d started it up until that point. I got a little anxious about this for some of the drive home, but as Zombie pointed out, it was only a small mouthful, not the end of the world.

We were treated to an absolutely stunning sunset about halfway home. I only had my phone on me for pictures but I just had to stop and see if I could get a photo, it was so beautiful.

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Zombie and I have been out of town four times since we have been together and we have come to the conclusion that we are good at trips. We always have a fantastic time and make some great memories. We always see and do as much as we can and we usually keep it low budget too. I think it’s time for us to start taking more road trips and explore our incredible country.

A special thanks to the Aardwolfs Ice Hockey team who organized the tournament. They do it every year and it’s always an awesome weekend of hockey and friends, I can’t wait for the next one!

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Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Recipe of the week: Chickpea Stuffed Capsicums

An absolute whirlwind of a week this week! The first three days flew by, I did 12 hour days at work to get as ahead as possible while training a coworker on how to do my job. I also had to rush job to get my car up and running again, new battery and a new tyre because we found a giant bolt in it!

Thursday we were supposed to get on the road early for our road trip. But as they do, the plans changed and I ended up spending Thursday in the kitchen prepping to stick to my diet for the road trip and then driving to Tekapo a lot later than planned. Zombie played in a social ice hockey tournament this weekend, his first time playing in 15 years! It’s been a lot of fun watching him, taking photos, helping him out with getting ready, I was a full on WAG this weekend and it was a lot of fun. Zombie was ecstatic to be playing again too!

We’re back home now but I still have another two days before I have to go to work which is great. Tomorrow is for relaxing, we are absolutely exhausted! Zombie is mostly because of the amount of hockey he played (he’s hobbling round like an old man). I actually don’t have a decent excuse other than traveling takes it out of ya!

I’m also excited about Tuesday. I am going to be doing a radio interview about my mental health and recovery. I’m very very nervous about this, but also excited. A few years ago there would have been no chance of me having the guts to even tell people about my mental health struggles. I had told people in the past before, sometimes with negative results and it really set me back so I started hiding it. But I’m all about getting it out there now and this is another way to do that.

But onto this weeks reintroduction: Chickpeas! A versatile legume, I use these in stir fry, casseroles, soup, fritters and the flour can be used in so many more ways, so I’m pleased to be putting these back into my diet and as I’ve had no negative results, I will be.

Chickpea Stuffed Capsicums

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Since being on my elimination diet, I’ve been playing Meat Free Monday and I’ve loved having the chance to get creative with vegetarian meals. I’ve been wanting to try a stuffed capsicum for a while, and figured chickpea week was a good week to do it.

2 red peppers
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed well
1/2 zucchini, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 button mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180℃

In a frying pan heat the oil on medium and soften the onion and garlic.

Add tomatoes, chickpeas, zucchini, mushrooms, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper.

Fry for 5 minutes until tomatoes are mushy.

Slice the tops off the capsicums and remove the seeds.

Fill the capsicums with the chickpea and tomato mixture.

Replace the tops, you may want to use a toothpick to secure.

Place upright in a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until the peppers start to blacken a little.

I served mine with twice cooked kumara chips and a gluten free almond muffin.

It’s pretty early, but I’m off to bed now. It’s been a big week and I’m sure another big week to follow. Tomorrow I’m going to start eating berries again, I see pancakes with raspberry sauce in my future!

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

I Remember my Daddy

I remember he used to ask us if we wanted to go for a car ride. When I’d ask where we were going he would reply, ‘down the road and back to see how far it is.’ This always meant fish and chips! So exciting for a child!

I remember he nicknamed my youngest brother Garbo, short for Garbage because he would eat and eat and eat, even though he was less than eighteen months old. To this day I still call my brother Bo and get confused when I hear his real name.

I remember he asked a band to play ‘Happy Birthday’ for my sister and I when we were on holiday in the North Island as our birthdays are only a day apart. We were so excited and he danced with us too.

I remember on cold winters nights he would toast bread on the fire for us to eat with our soup. I remember he used to get so frustrated because we would eat the toast faster than he could toast it. Bread tastes so much better toasted on the fire!

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I remember I loved to help him with whatever he was doing. Gardening, painting the house, it didn’t matter as long as I got to help. I’m sure I was more of a hindrance than a help but he always let me join in.

I remember him jumping out of my bedroom window to shoo a cat away that was on the front lawn. I thought this was hilarious but mum wasn’t so impressed.

I remember when my youngest brother was born he had to take my sister and I to the hospital to see mum because he didn’t know how to do our hair before school (and apparently neither did we).

I remember watching Macgyver with him on Sunday nights. I loved this because I got to spend time with him and got out of the dishes! I couldn’t watch Macgyver for the longest time after he died.

I remember one day we were all sick, including mum and he looked after us. He made us what he called ‘Daddy’s Concoction Chicken.’ To this day I have never tasted any chicken similar, but I would love to.

The next day he got sick. He never got better. A month or so later he went to hospital. He never left.

I remember the day he died vividly. It was three days before Christmas. A nice hot summers day. We were having a good morning. Then the phone rang.

It got confusing after that. Mum was in a hurry to leave the house but I didn’t really know why. The phone rang again but mum was so flustered she couldn’t work out who was on the other end and she hung up.

We got to the hospital in record time and rushed to the intensive care unit. They wouldn’t let us in and we went into the waiting room. A few moments later a nurse came out and spoke to mum. She was crying and so were we, but I still wasn’t sure why.

After a while I had to ask. ‘Is Daddy dead?’ I got the answer I didn’t want.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur. We were taken to the room he was in. We drew pictures for him. My aunt and cousin showed up. It turned out they were the ones who had called. My cousin wanted me to go for a swim in their pool. I didn’t think I could. ‘But what about Daddy?’ I asked. It was at this moment that my aunt said the best thing she could have at that time, ‘Daddy would have wanted you to go for a swim.’ If she hasn’t said that I think potentially I might have stopped living for a while.

We got more presents that Christmas than any before or since. I didn’t care. It was that year that I discovered Santa wasn’t real. How could he be?

My father died of lung cancer, legionnaires disease and double pneumonia. He was given seven years to live but he only lasted about seven weeks. This was a blessing as he didn’t suffer too long.

I am so grateful for the eight years I got with my father. Eight years I got to be daddy’s little girl. I have eight years of memories of the best father a girl could want.

My mother did an amazing job after he died. All of a sudden she was alone, with four young children to look after. I helped a little but as I got older I stopped appreciating her hard work. I made it very difficult for her and I still feel bad about that.

I get annoyed when I hear people say ‘I hate my father.’ But I don’t know their stories. All I know is I wish my father was still here. I know he would be proud of who I am today. I know he would have been upset by some of my choices in the past, but I know he would still love me all the same.

Today would be my fathers 73rd birthday. Unfortunately he only made it to 49. Appreciate what you have. You don’t know how long you have it for.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Staying on Track With a Busy Schedule

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the busier my life gets. There’s always something that needs doing and I often find myself double and sometimes even triple booked with commitments. Spare time is a luxury these days.

And that’s ok. I’d much rather be occupied with plenty to do than sitting around waiting for life to happen. And a lot of it is my own choosing, for example my blog and the amount of exercise I do and of course fitting in friends when I can.

It has however made my elimination diet very difficult at times. Gone are the days of finishing work late and grabbing take out on the way home, there’s no stopping off at the dairy or servo for a quick snack on the way to an engagement anymore I have to account for everything I eat and make sure that I’m prepared for it.

The montgs before I started this diet, I just wanted to eat healthy. But when life got in the way the first thing to go out the window was healthy food. Because unfortunately, it often takes more effort to have something healthy than grabbing something readymade from the shops. Because I wanted to eat healthy I would always berate myself for this, but I’d still cheat again the next time I was busy. It was a vicious cycle.

I knew that with the elimination diet there was absolutely no cheating, so I had to make a plan that would work for any unexpected situation. I’ll admit there have been a couple of times were Zombie has talked me out of a cheat meal. Once was the day of my panic attack so I think the thought of it was semi justified. I’m glad he talked me round though. And I’ll also admit there have plenty of occasions when the thought of cheating on my diet has crossed my mind, usually at the end of a long busy day, but because I’ve planned ahead, I do have some quick and easy options for those days that I can’t be bothered.

Obviously my elimination diet is a lot more intensive than just eating healthy, but the same preparation principals can be applied to eating a balanced diet.

The very first thing I did, was make a meal plan. It was handwritten and messy, but it was thorough and that’s what was important. And I was the only person who needed to see it so who cares what it looks like. I wrote down each day, each meal and then what I was going to eat:

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I did this for the entire week. I also added in an extras section. I never know when I’m going to feel hungry unexpectedly and having something healthy on hand for the occasion has stopped me from rushing to the vending machine. The meal plan is a guide line. I don’t have to stick to it directly and I often  pick and choose the days and meals when I feel like it. Having it as a base to work from, however, has made the last sixteen weeks a whole lot easier for me. I make a new plan every week.

The next step is making my grocery list. From my meal plan I know what I’m going to eat, so making a grocery list from this is easy. I make sure to get more than I need so that I can also have leftovers, for those times that I can’t be bothered cooking. Leftovers have become my saving grace, I often freeze them or take them for lunch the next day. A meal that’s already prepared is a great way to stick to healthy eating.

After the groceries are done, I meal prep. Meal prep is probably the most essential part for me sticking to my diet. I love being in the kitchen so it’s not a chore for me either. Every Sunday I spend most of the afternoon cooking and I love it.

However I know that a lot of people don’t have that kind of time, or the desire to spend that long in the kitchen, so meal prep is unique to the individual. You can make it as simple or complex as you like and as much or as little as you like. The point of the exercise is to have ready made food on hand that can be grabbed on the go.

I usually write a list of all the things I need to make and cross it off as I go. I like to have all my breakfast and lunches sorted (except for smoothies) and I make extras in case I have a lazy day. Dinner I usually make at the time but I sometimes make sauces and sides during meal prep so that cooking during the week becomes simpler too.

Containers and snap lock bags have become furniture in my fridge and freezer. Everything is portioned out, put into a container and then stored for when it’s needed. Some people go as far as per cutting their veggies for dinner and snacks during meal prep and storing them too but I’m not one of those people.

Once my meal prep is done, I have no excuses for cheating on my diet. I still can if I want to, but that’s completely on me if I do. I think we use excuses like, ‘I finished work late and couldn’t be bothered cooking’ to justify unplanned cheat meals to ourselves but at the end of the day the only person we are fooling and affecting is ourselves. Especially if we are prepared.

My freezer and fridge are usually packed with readymade foods that Zombie and I can grab and go. There are times it runs low but I try to avoid that with weekly meal prep. There are some Sundays that I can’t be bothered prepping, so on those days I make it light. Cheesy Egg cups only take 5 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook and that’s a whole week of breakfasts, done. This is another reason why I always make sure I have leftovers, so that meal prep doesn’t have to be such a daunting task.

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Cheesy Egg cups, beat eggs in a bowl and add veggies of choice. Divide into a muffin tin, top with cheese and bake for 15 minutes at 180℃

At the end of the day, it’s up to you what you want to eat. If you want to eat healthy, make a plan and do it. If you want to eat whatever you want, whenever you want that’s ok too, as long as you are happy that is the important thing.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

The Need to Explain Myself

I’m sitting at the bus stop writing this after a very long day. There’s a 28 minute wait for the bus, which is fine because I’m pretty tired and just want to sit and relax for a bit.

Of course my brain is anti relaxing so instead I’m over analyzing something that most people probably don’t worry about. At least I think they don’t.

I have a ridiculous need to explain myself. Any situation and I’ll need to explain it. The reason I’m thinking about it so much right now is because I had to postpone plans, again. My first thought was nervousness because I’m often canceling, sometimes legitimately and other times because I’m not mentally up to it. The next thought was that if I explained myself well enough, it wouldn’t look so bad. It needed to be a really good excuse, because I was worried that they would tell me I wasn’t allowed to postpone.

It was a Facebook event, so I typed out a big long explanation about how my car isn’t going and I need it working by Thursday because of a reason and I can’t do anything until tomorrow but it has to be tomorrow because that’s when people are available and blah blah blah. Even though it was the truth, I felt like it wasn’t because it was so long winded and unnecessary.

So I ‘long story shorted’ it and still felt bad. I felt like my friends would think that I was lying and that I just didn’t want to see them. I felt like I wasn’t going to get another chance. I felt like I was being rude.

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Giving a reason is polite, but going overboard and then obsessing over it is just silly. And the reality is that friends understand that life comes up, shit happens, plans change. It doesn’t mean you like them any less and they aren’t going to like you any less either. A simple ‘something came up’ is plenty and also less insulting than going overboard with the explanation.

After spending an hour obsessing over my explanation and worrying about the repercussions I checked Facebook again. Another friend had had to cancel too and new dates were suggested. Unfortunately they didn’t work for me either and after much stressing I decided to just say, ‘that doesn’t work for me either’.

As soon as I hit send I was paranoid. I was worried that I was going to get interrogated as to why and then I’d have to launch into a wordy explanation about why I couldn’t in the hopes that it was a good enough reason, almost like I was asking permission to not be able to make it.

A few minutes later a notification came and another day had been suggested. All that agonizing for friends who just wanted to find a day that worked for everyone, not to make anyone feel bad for having a life.

That brings me to now, sitting at the bus stop and contemplating how much I stressed over nothing. I know that next time I need to postpone I’m going to have the same inner turmoil, the feelings of guilt and the need to have a ‘good enough’ reason, when the reality is, friends understand and will quite happily make a new date just so that they can spend some time with me.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie