A Weighty Challenge – our own BIGGEST LOSER competition

A weighty issue...

A weighty issue…

So the Christmas holiday period of over-indulgence has long come to an end and most of us are looking at the results on our waistlines…

One girlfriend, Julie, decided to take drastic action and has come up with a brilliant idea that involves getting a group of friends together to stage our own ‘BIGGEST LOSER’ competition.

Here’s how it works:

1. It costs $200 to enter the competition
2. Weekly weigh-in is every week at 10am Sunday – 2nd weigh-in was today
3. The challenge goes for 8 weeks and the winner is the one who loses the most percentage weight i.e. if you weigh in at 100 kilos and you end up 90 kilos then you have lost 10% body weight.
4. We will have a 6-week makeover day where we pamper ourselves using the money from saving on food and alcohol.
5. With 8 entrants, we have $1600 in the kitty and the winnings will go as follows:
Winner – $1000
Runner up- $300
The last $300 will go towards French champagne and an end of competition break-up party.

Alinta at work

Alinta at work

After weigh-in today, I’ve lost a kilo in the last week but am coming in at third last on the bottom of a list of eight. Wanting some extra help, I’ve turned to my wonderful personal trainer, Alinta Willet, for some more tips – especially about what to EAT.

Alinta says it’s always best to start he day with a glass of half a squeezed lemon in hot water to:

  1. Kick-start the metabolism
  2. Help flush out toxins
  3. Help curb the appetite

About half an hour later, Alinta advises sticking to a protein-based breakfast and staying away from any carbs till late afternoon after a work-out, but she DOES allow some carbs for dinner. This is a bit of a reverse-theory from what I’ve usually worked with but after trying this for some time last year, it did seem to work and now I just have to get back on the program.

Here’s a small section from my chat with Alinta:

JEN: So why it is important to eat a high protein breakfast?

ALINTA: Starting your day with a protein rich breakfast will keep you fuller for longer. It will elevate the neurotransmitters – dopamine and acetylcholine  – which will increase brain function throughout the day and motivate you to train. High GI carb breakfasts produce an initial spike in blood sugar levels followed by a rapid decline, leading to hunger and carb cravings.

JEN: Is that good for everyone?

ALINTA: It depends on the individual and what you’re hoping to achieve. But if you’re wanting to lose weight, then this will be more effective.

JEN: I love this lemon-water idea you put me on to. Tell me more about that.

ALINTA: Yes, it’s great. You start the day with half a lemon in warm water, which helps you rehydrate after being asleep for so long which helps with the cells in your body and for brain function. It also helps with metabolism and alkalises your body to help clear out the toxins.

Training with Alinta

Training with Alinta

JEN: How many times should I be working out?

ALINTA: Ideally four to five sessions a week is good.

JEN: Long workouts or are short hard and fast ones better?

ALINTA: I think for women keeping the workouts under 45 minutes is good because after that amount of time, your cortosol elves start to rise and your testosterone drops which puts you under more stress. More cortisol in your system helps the body to store fat, which isn’t good. Stress is one of the reasons why we can end up storing fat around the stomach.

Now that’s good news! Too much time in the gym can actually be counter-productive? Excellent!

(P.S. Coming up in one of the next blogs, I’ll share Alinta’s famous Lamb Frittata recipe that I now cook for breakfast – it’s delicious.)

The Year That Was – the highs and lows of 2015

It’s always a nostalgic time. The last day of the year inevitably leads to reflection about the year that was – dreams won and shattered; friendships rekindled and lost; unexpected joys and tragic lows.

I know it hasn’t been a great year for many and I’ve also had my fair share of sad times, but I’m going to take pause to put on my Pollyanna hat for a moment and try and celebrate the highlights.

Before going down that path, I want to pay tribute to two people no longer with us. It’s my way of keeping their memory alive.

Rochelle and me

Rochelle and me

I can’t say ‘goodbye’ to 2015 without sharing one more memory of my dear friend, Rochelle. Her passing was such a massive shock and her loss has been so hard to come to terms with. That sadness will stay with me and our friends who all miss her so much, and will do for years to come. Only two years ago we had a New Year’s Eve party at our place and of course, karaoke was a part of the evening. Rochelle blew everyone out of the water with her version of the Adele song ‘Someone Like You.’ It was a heart-wrenching and poignant rendition and the only moment in the night where everyone stopped to listen. Singing was just one of her talents.


We thought about having another New Year’s Eve party this year but I’m not quite ready for that yet. Maybe next year.

Nic Jacobson

Nic Jacobson


And then for my son and his friends, just over a week after VCE exams finished, their schoolmate Nic Jacobson was tragically killed in a car accident. The school community rallied around Nic’s parents, Laurie and Jane and his sister Marni. Unspeakable sadness. Inexplicable loss and devastation. Tom had been at school with Nic from Prep through to Year 12. Our hearts go out to Nic’s family and you will forever be in our thoughts.



Before those tragedies, there were happy times. Afterwards too, although those days are also tinged with a sense of loss as you try to remember the special moments and be grateful for what was and then to live in the moment, knowing how precious and short life can be.

So for now, I’m going to focus on the highlights that made the year special – some planned, some unexpected – but all bringing light and some joy to temper the sadness. Here’s my Top Ten for 2015:

  1. Wedding Anniversary holiday on the Greek Islands. I Blogged about this so you can read back if you want to learn more!
  2. Drinking my Porn Star cocktail

    Drinking my Porn Star cocktail

2. Continuing to work at Smoothfm 91.5 with Mike Perso on the More Music Breakfast Show. 

Mike Perso and me

Mike Perso and me

3. Being nominated for an ACRA (Australian Commercial Radio Award). I didn’t win, but just to be nominated was a huge thrill.

The Smooth News team

The Smooth News team at the ACRAs

4. Fletch celebrating Neighbours 30th anniversary after starring on the show for 20 himself. That was one helluva party at the Carousel!

Fletch and me at Neighbours 30th party

Fletch and me at Neighbours 30th party

5. Daughter Ronnie starting out in the hospitality industry and doing really well. Now working at WILD HOLLY and loving it – although I don’t think she’s allowed to do THIS any more!

It all started with licking the bowl...

It all started with licking the bowl…

6. Starting back at the gym – training with Alinta and getting fit again.

Training with Alinta

Training with Alinta

7. Tom finishing Year 12 and doing brilliantly with his VCE score – not to mention winning the RUSDEN House leadership trophy… He says I shouldn’t mention this because it’s bragging but quite frankly, I don’t give a damn. WELL DONE TOM!

Tom's winning year

Tom’s winning year

8. Finishing my novel MAKING HEADLINES and preparing for next year’s book launch.

Making Headlines

Making Headlines


9. Performing at the Starry Night Ball with Fletch – helping to raise funds for the Alannah and Madeleine Foundation – and fitting into my silver hot pants – thanks to Alinta!

Starry Night ball

Starry Night ball

10. Ending the year by hosting a family Christmas at our house with everyone happy and healthy!

Our Christmas tree - mostly decorated by Ronnie!

Our Christmas tree – mostly decorated by Ronnie!

A testament to the great Christmas we had – I don’t even have one group photo because we were all having so much fun, no one remembered to take a picture or think about posting a social media snap even once. Now that’s living in the moment.


Meet Ross, my new motivator


Physically speaking, I’m naturally a lazy person. I’d much rather sleep in and eat ice-cream (from the tub) for breakfast-in-bed, while reading a book, than get up and go to the gym. Especially if I’ve had a late night writing – my favourite time to tap out words.

Most mornings I get up early to take the kids to school. (Unless Fletch doesn’t have an early start on Neighbours, but that’s a weekly negotiation…) After dropping them off, I love the idea of going back to bed and snuggling back under the doona for maybe an extra hour or two… but that’s just a fantasy. I think I’ve only actually done that about twice in my life. Maybe three…

My favourite sweet treat

My favourite sweet treat

Instead, I try to head to the gym after the kids drop-off and before work, but last year things went awry. My weight ballooned after giving up smoking, and then a neck injury meant I gave up working-out. Plus I was eating WAY too many sweet treats. Of course it became harder to keep the fat at bay.


Luckily I began the Cool Sculpting process in late October – more as a Blogging exercise really – to see if this freezing process would help get rid of my burgeoning muffin-top. Each week I went along to the Liberty Belle Clinic for a photo update and JOY, OH JOY, it actually WORKED! (check out the weekly updates, starting from October 30th last year   http://wp.me/p29YsS-kK  )

This inspired me to get back to the gym and try and fix the rest of me. God knows I’d like to get rid of those orange-peel flabby underarm bits…. Yet still, I was pretty half-hearted about the whole exercise regime, so decided I needed someone to motivate me. Someone I could be accountable to.

I met Personal Trainer Ross Sheridan at Fitness First in Brighton several months ago. He looked like one of the fittest guys taking people through their workouts, plus he had a lovely manner about him. I didn’t want anyone screaming orders at me like a boot camp major. So I grabbed his card and promised I’d book in. That was last November.

Then a few weeks ago I ran into Ross at the gym (after dodging him for months) and couldn’t think of any more excuses as to why I hadn’t made an appointment. As we chatted, I explained how I needed to be accountable to someone PLUS the fact that I was easily bored by exercise. Ross came up with a great solution. I couldn’t afford to see him twice a week, but he was happy to divide my one hour session into TWO half-hour appointments, with me promising to do some cardio work – on the treadmill or cross-trainer – for the other half-hour. A perfect solution. This meant I would HAVE to turn up to the gym twice a week. At least.

I booked in on the spot. That was nearly three weeks ago and I’ve stuck to it. Lo and behold, this exercising PROPERLY business is already working!!

So meet Ross, my new training buddy. Ta da!! Cool tattoos, yeah?

My new trainer Ross

My new trainer Ross

But things between us didn’t start off so great. This is NOT a bad thing about Ross. It’s probably more about me…. You see, the week I started with Ross, I started getting text messages quite regularly.

‘Great training today, Jen, keep up the good work!’
‘Have a great weekend and try not to indulge too much!’
‘Less drink, better food.’
‘Get ready for a big week of training!’

Now, I appreciate the effort and thought put into this and I recognise it helps many people stay on the straight and narrow, but it’s not for me. WAY too much. So I texted back.

‘All good. Probably don’t need so many text msgs though… Thanks anyway.’ Ungrateful cow, aren’t I?

But I thought it best to sort this out upfront before I became too peeved by it all and threw in the training towel. Ross was fine and explained that most of his clients like the additional motivational messages. I guess everyone’s different…

Boxing with Ross

Boxing with Ross

Now we’re getting into the hot and heavy stuff – BOXING. I’ve done this before and am loving punching it up again. It really works up a sweat. Ross reckons I’ve got a great right hook, so watch out. But I’m still pretty unfit and am exhausted at the end of every half-hour session.



I suspect part of the reason for Ross’ text messages is that he thinks I drink too much. Here, we have another point of difference. Ross DOES NOT DRINK ALCOHOL AT ALL. He hasn’t for 18 months. Which is highly admirable. But not for me. Ross is encouraging me to have more AFDs, (alcohol-free-days) which I probably need, so I am trying. One friend advised, ‘NEVER tell your PT how much you drink. He won’t know!’

Unfortunately, you’re wrong there, Mr M. At training today, I thought I’d omit confessing to the red wine intake last night. Nothing was mentioned about alcohol till right at the end. Maybe it was my lack of energy? Then Ross remarked, ‘Had a few last night, didn’t you.’ It wasn’t a question. I only had a few glasses, but still he knew? I think he might be psychic.

Massage voucher

Massage voucher

Ross has other talents too. He’s a qualified remedial massage therapist. AND he’s mobile. That means he has his own massage table and can come to your home.



What better way to have a massage, than to be able to fall into bed into a deep sleep immediately afterwards? He also does gift vouchers, which is a great idea. It might be a bit late to organise one for Valentine’s Day, but keep it in mind next time you’re shopping for a birthday or anniversary gift. So many people have all the ‘stuff’ they need these days, that an ‘experiential’ gift is often appreciated. And $80 for a one-hour massage AT YOUR HOME or at the gym is great value.

To contact Ross for either a personal training session or massage, email him at rosssheridanfitness@gmail.com or phone on 0406 331 697.


Ross has a special offer for new remedial massage clients. If you are a subscriber to this Blog and would like to book a one-hour session, he is offering a FIFTY PER CENT discount to the first TWENTY readers to email him. Enjoy.





New Year’s Resolution Update – plus a drinking debate


Sometimes I wonder why I do it to myself. WHY? Why would I tell you I’m going to post weekly New Year’s Resolution updates? How stupid. Does anyone actually stick to their resolutions? I must say, with a couple of those declarations, I DID add the disclaimer – NOT during holidays, so I can let myself off the hook until this week, but seriously, I am NOT doing well so far.

I also have mixed feelings about a very positive step I took today. I’ve signed up with a new personal trainer – Ross. He’s a lovely man – very encouraging and patient. I know he’s patient because I promised to email him last SEPTEMBER with my health background, with the view of starting way back then… But I’m lazy. And life happens. Work commitments and travel got in the way, and then I injured a glute muscle trying to climb over rocks in the Grampians, so I kept putting it off – until today.



So I AM proud of myself that I had a meeting with Ross this morning and am booked to begin on Friday. All good. What’s NOT so good is Ross’ take on my resolutions. He clearly thinks I’m appalling when it comes to alcohol consumption. He’s happy with my sugar-free mission, but when I proposed that MY RULES also allowed me to drink wine four nights a week, he practically choked on his whistle. Eyes popping, ‘Four?’ he gasped. ‘You drink FOUR nights a week?’


‘Well that’s what I’m aiming for,’ I said. ‘I think three alcohol-free days is pretty good, isn’t it?’ Clearly not. Ross needs to meet my friends.

‘No,’ he said firmly. ‘Have you any IDEA how much sugar is in a glass of wine? You should only drink ONE DAY a week.’

ONE DAY? Is he kidding? But then, Ross gave up alcohol eighteen months ago – purely as a health challenge – and he likes being pure so much, he’s continued. I don’t think that’s on my agenda. I enjoy wine – especially chardonnay. A good chardonnay is like liquid gold to the palate – in moderation, of course.

Hmmm…. this could be a challenging relationship. Our views on drinking are dramatically opposed. But, maybe – just maybe – this is what I need?

Next stop - Dan Murphy

Next stop – Dan Murphy


Regardless, I didn’t tell him my next stop after the gym was to pop in to Dan Murphy’s to buy a present for my hairdresser (Grey Goose Vodka) and to refill Fletch’s beer supplies. Friends often pop in at our place and there’s nothing more embarrassing than an empty fridge. Oh yes, I also picked up a couple of bottles of chardonnay…

But let’s get back to that resolution update. Here are my pathetic results from last week:



(1) Sugar free challenge (apart from wine) – to stick to the ONE LINE RULE diet. (Which means not eating anything that contains more than 5% sugar.)
This is the only resolution I ALMOST get a tick for. While the THREE alcohol-free days rule doesn’t apply during holidays, I still managed two alcohol-free days, so I’m feeling okay about this one. Ross might not be impressed, but I am.

Yoplait yoghurt

Yoplait yoghurt


I did, however, have one major disappointment with this resolution, and it was by accident. I was helping myself to a serving of yoghurt for afternoon tea, when half way through, I thought I should ‘double check’ the sugar content, even though I was sure I’d already done that and I was fine.


BUT, this flavour – apple pie – comes in a six-pack and I discovered the sugar content I’d read was for ANOTHER FLAVOUR!!! Damn!! The apple pie yoghurt ended up being 7.4% sugar, so inadvertently, I’d stuffed up.

SO I get a cross for this resolution this week, but I will persist.
(2) Not to play I-Phone Games

I get a big, fat cross here too, because I played Baker’s Game – a form of solitaire – on my I-phone one night when I was finding it hard to get to sleep. It’s a bad habit I know – relying on an I-phone to get to sleep – but I blame Fletch. He won’t let me read (even with a reading light) while he’s sleeping because he says it wakes him up. Very selfish of him really, so I say it’s all his fault. But yes, I still get another cross…

(3) To tidy my office before the end of March

This is an easy one. I have weeks ahead of me to get TICKS till the end of March! I am making progress though. Albeit slowly…

(4) To go to the gym at least 3 times a week
This is a tricky one as the disclaimer on this resolution, was “except for when on holidays”. Overall, I was NOT on holidays for half a week, (last week)  so it’s awkward to assess… I DID do a spin class this morning, but no, that’s only one visit to the gym for the whole week, so really I probably deserve a CROSS. Damn. It’s hard with the kids on holidays to find the motivation…

(5) To NEVER smoke another cigarette again

I get a tick here too, although I did willingly chase the smokers outside last night to stand near them and inhale their second-hand smoke. But I did NOT actually smoke a cigarette. Second-hand fumes don’t count. Another tick, thank you!

Overall, checking the scorecard, that’s only TWO out of FIVE. A poor result.I am taking myself off for time out in the naughty corner. I will attempt to pull my finger out next week. Promise. Surely with Ross on side I can do better? How are you going with your resolutions? I’d love to hear stories from someone else who’s finding it tough!