A weighty issue – which ‘diet’ works best?

I’ve been debating whether to write about this topic or not, since it’s almost politically incorrect these days to say we’re ‘NOT happy with our bodies’ or to even mention the word DIET, because it SHOULD be about being healthy rather than how we look, right?

Not to mention the fact that there are so many more serious political issues I could be addressing rather than the trivial obsession with what we put in our mouths and whether our muffin tops have grown since last year…

But heck, it’s my Blog so I can write what I want and I want to get into shape for summer, so selfishly, it suits me. It’s also something I haven’t addressed since the beginning of the year, when I went on the SUGAR FREE DIET for six weeks. Well, I did eat some sugar products – as long as they contained less than FIVE PER CENT sugar per 100 grams. I have to say I wish I’d stuck to it, because not only did I feel great during that time, I also dropped a few kilos without too much effort at all.

Just some of my collection of 'diet' books...

Just some of my collection of ‘diet’ books…

Sadly, since then the old bod has expanded beyond what I consider to be an acceptable size. It hasn’t helped that I’ve travelled quite a bit this year, which has meant less exercise, more food and overall, less self-discipline.

Now it’s time to get motivated again. Well, that’s what I thought about two months ago and since then have been re-visiting the rather large collection of fad diet books I’ve bought over the years to try and work out what’s going to be the most effective way. Clearly, it’s taken a bit of time to come to the right decision.

Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr

Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr


At first I fell in love with Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet, with its vegan slant and wonderful array of fresh juices. Dutifully, I trotted out some amazing salads for the family, but was met with scorn and revolt at the lack of protein and abundance of healthy green stuff. (Not to mention their inability to appreciate hemp seeds.) It was also difficult finding some of the ingredients, which might be a cultural problem, but nevertheless, made the recipes all the more challenging.


My home made green juice

My homemade green juice

Ms Carr’s power of persuasion about the health benefits of fresh juice even led me to purchase our own whiz-bang Breville juicer. A few weeks went by when the fridge was bursting at the seams with magical green juice, that again, I was the only family member to truly appreciate. What I didn’t appreciate was the time and effort to make the stuff.


My enthusiasm quickly waned and before long, the hoards of veggies I was buying with the intention of juicing, would wilt and wither in the fridge, then be tossed out before they even made it to the juicer. The problem is that this juicing caper is WAY too time-consuming. Washing, peeling, dicing and prepping the fruit and veg for the juicer takes FOREVER and then you’re faced with a mountain of dishes.

On the plus side, I have to say I did feel great when I went on a juice binge and I was the only member of the family NOT to get a cold this winter.

Regardless, I put that book to the side and decided to sign up to the Michelle Bridges 12-week Body Transformation. A friend had done the program and swore by it. But it wasn’t for me. Sure, my body transformed – I put on two kilos! I found the meal program to be heavily laden with carbs and again, if you’re a working person, too much time and effort required on the food front – especially for lunches.

The Dukan Diet has worked for me in the past, but does become boring for the taste buds. I also think it’s impossible to stick with long-term and as soon as you break the momentum, the weight goes straight back on.

Yep, it really is marvellous...

Yep, it really is marvellous…

I know, I know, I can hear you shouting – but what about the simple EAT LESS, EXERCISE MORE theory? Yep, you’re absolutely right. That makes total sense. BUT I like a plan. A bit of a regime to get me motivated. And to keep me away from all those temptations – like this chocolate, which is TO DIE FOR.

So I’ve decided the best solution is to come up with my OWN diet. A mixture of all the good bits from the diets I’ve been researching, smashed together into one GRAND PLAN. I’ve also realised that being accountable is a good thing. So I’m going to be accountable to YOU.


I’m going to check in with Blog reports, listing my food and exercise plan and whether I stick to it or not. I hasten to add, I am NOT a dietician so please don’t follow this unless you chat to someone with the right authority to let you know if it’s a healthy option for you. I’m just doing this for myself as an experiment. It will probably be more Bridget Jones than Michelle Bridges, but hey, let’s give it a shot and see what happens.

DAY ONE – MONDAY, November 18

Day One of a new regime is always my favourite. That’s when I’m full of positive energy and determination to succeed with my new plan. Part of my enthusiasm comes from the fact that a new store opened in our local area – PRESSED JUICES.

Pressed Juices, 25 Carpenter Street, Brighton

Pressed Juices, 25 Carpenter Street, Brighton

Now, I’ve never been into all that detoxing stuff before, but after feeling the benefits of fresh juices through the Crazy Sexy Diet plan, I do agree that a short-term ‘cleanse’ can set you on the right path for a new way of approaching food. So when Pressed Juices opened up, I was thrilled. Now I could enjoy a fantastic range of fresh juices without having to go to all the trouble of making them myself.

That’s the other drawback of having your own juicer. You can really only make one batch at a time, whereas buying them already made, you can enjoy a variety of flavours.

A fridge full of miracle juice

A fridge full of miracle juice at Pressed Juices

The Pressed Juices brochures explain in detail how it all works, so I decided to kick start my new diet with a three-day juice cleanse. There are a couple of stores dotted around Melbourne and Sydney if you’d like to do the same, and likewise, interstate or overseas, you should find that similar stores are popping up everywhere and there’s very likely to be one near you. Or bite the bullet, buy a juicer and do the work yourself.

My juice selection for Day One

My juice selection for Day One

I’m lazy and LOVE this option of buying my six bottles for the day and putting them in my fridge. Not only are there massive health benefits, it means NO COOKING for three days!! Just grab a bottle, crack it open and down the hatch. Not even cutlery needed. Bliss. I told the family they could fend for themselves.


Breakfast was a Green Smoothie with avocado, banana, coconut water, cucumber, lake, lime, mesclun and pineapple. Delicious! Thank God I didn’t have to make it – would have taken at least two hours.

I won’t detail ALL the juices I drank, but suffice to say they all tasted great and I didn’t feel hungry. It’s advised not to exercise TOO strenuously during a cleanse. Yesterday, I DID go to the gym and did a spin class, but I’d had a big meal the night before so was still burning that off. I felt a little more tired than usual at night, but that’s to be expected.

Today I trotted off to Pressed Juices again to restock, but ditched gym in favour of a half hour power walk. I’ll get back to the heavier gym stuff after the 3-day cleanse is done. SO now I’m half way through DAY TWO and feeling great.

Time to work out the plan of action AFTER the 3-day juice regime. How much I hope to lose, confess to how much I weigh right now etc… Stay tuned…


The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men…

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men… I had to find out where that saying actually came from this morning as I sat down to explain the irony of my GRAND PLAN gone wrong. Turns out it was from way, WAY back – from a poem by Robert Burns, called ‘To a Mouse’, that he penned in 1786.

The Grand Plan

The Grand Plan

Yes, on Tuesday I put a Blog out to the world, declaring how organised and reliable a Blogger I was going to become – with different themed stories for each day. And while I stated clearly I was never intending to Blog EVERY day, I had hoped to keep to the schedule for…hmmm… well… I guess, at least a week or two.

But NO, let’s just kick that plan to the ground and stomp it into smithereens on DAY ONE shall we? Why not, dear stomach? Why not take on a terrible bug that makes me so ill I can barely move from my bed? Thank God I was at least well enough before it really took hold, to get to a hair colouring session with Linda, (who I Blogged about last week), because God knows she’s so booked up I might not have gotten another appointment till Christmas…

Then I came home and fell in a heap. With legs heavy as lead, I collapsed into bed and you don’t want to know the rest. Suffice to say it involved the bathroom and it wasn’t pretty. And then I slept. And slept.

The irony being that I WAS going to write about healthy stuff today – Thursday being my self-appointed Blogging day for fitness, recipes and diet tips – but who am I to dish out advice, feeling like this?

I will offer one piece of advice though. Earlier in the year I blogged about trying the ‘Sugar Free’ diet. Which, on my terms, meant I was allowed to eat anything that had five per cent or less sugar, plus wine. (in moderation!) I was proud of myself for lasting more than six weeks and I felt great. But since ditching this concept, largely due to laziness, I reckon the old bod has taken a turn for the worse. Not only in terms of putting on a few kilos (AGAIN!) but in terms of general well-being and feeling good about the world.

Chocolate bullets

Chocolate bullets

And you know what? Just before I got knocked down by this tummy bug, I had a MASSIVE chocolate binge. Yep, a few layers from a block of Cadbury Crunchie chocolate topped up by half a pack of these little buggers. Chocolate bullets. And they hit their target. Not long after, it was all downhill.

See? Sugar really is Sweet Poison. I’m getting back on that health kick thingie pronto. I must make another plan…




Dental avoidance OR How Time Flies – New Year’s Resolution Update


It’s more than THREE MONTHS since I last posted a New Year’s Resolution update – my, how time flies!

A VERY belated check up...

A VERY belated check up…

That was also brought home by an embarrassing visit to the dentist this morning. As I lay back in the recliner chair, I noticed a newly designed courtyard outside the facing window of the surgery. It’s a pretty white-pebbled and ferny space; a pleasant distraction from the painful work going on inside one’s mouth.



‘Gee, you built that quickly,’ I remarked. ‘That wasn’t here last time.’
‘Ah, no, it wasn’t that quick,’ said Christine, looking at me as though I was one snag short of a barbie. ‘You haven’t been here for two years.’

TWO YEARS? Are you kidding? I felt like I’d been woken from a coma. Usually I visit the dentist every six months like clockwork. It occurred to me two weeks ago that I hadn’t received a reminder notice for a while, so made this appointment without being prompted. I thought maybe a year at most had passed – probably less than a year – so I was staggered to find out it was in fact, more than TWO YEARS. How slack! Or was I sub-consciously avoiding something I dislike intensely?

The ‘time whizzing past’ concept also reminded me I haven’t posted a New Year’s Resolution update for more than three months. As I said in the last update all those moons ago, I was beginning to find them repetitive to write on a WEEKLY basis, which meant they must have been boring to read, so decided to take a short break. Which became a longish break…

Now it’s definitely time for an update, so here’s how those resolutions are looking nearly five months down the track:


(1) Sugar free challenge (apart from wine) – HA, HA, HA and HA! Hmmm… yes, I was starting to fall off the wagon at the end of six weeks and things haven’t improved since. To be honest, I ate a Crunchie bar for breakfast this morning. So NOT GOOD. I love the concept, though, and would like to tackle this again, but on a less extreme level.

Regardless, I will keep eating The Muesli for breakfast most days – except when there’s a Crunchie Bar lying around.

I felt great (and lost weight!)  when I gave up sugar, but there were too many treats I missed – sharing chocolate with my daughter while watching a DVD, buying a fruit bun down the street while doing the food shop and ICE-CREAM.

Crazy Sexy Diet

Crazy Sexy Diet

Now I’ve come across a new diet – which includes a lot of GREEN JUICE – and I’ll share that with you next week. It also involves some tips from the Crazy, Sexy Diet book by Kris Carr, which is well worth a read.

After much research, I’ve even bought a whiz bang juicer and will give you the low-down on which is the best on the market and why, next week.



(2) Not to play I-Phone Games – I failed on this one too. I went through a downer-patch in Feb/March and resorted to playing games as a mind-numbing way of blocking out the bad stuff. I suppose it’s better than taking drugs.

(3) To tidy my office before the end of March – And again, I laugh. Not because I failed, but because I COMPLETELY FORGOT this one. I have managed to clear a mass of paperwork piles from the floor, but the desk still looks like a tsunami’s hit.

(4) To go to the gym at least 3 times a week – At last – a tick! YES!!! For a short while I was inspired by my new trainer, Ross, who I Blogged about. Then Ross left for another gym, so now I’m doing classes instead. Which I like. In fact, this week I have been to a Spin Class (stationary group bike-riding) three times already. Yay, me. It helps to combat that sugar addiction.

Give smoking the chop

Give smoking the chop

(5) To NEVER smoke another cigarette again – Another tick. Big back pat. It really does get easier all the time. Especially when you pass the one-year mark. This is my biggest achievement and even though I was slightly tempted on a recent girls’ night, I stayed strong.

I don’t think I’d be surviving as many spin classes if I was still a smoker and the financial saving is also a huge bonus.


So overall, I’ve scored two out of five. Which doesn’t say a lot about my willpower. Or are New Year’s Resolutions pointless? Did you make any this year? Have you stuck to them? I’d love to hear your stories in our comments section.


A Laundry Explosion


It was the Diet Coke getting his revenge… He knew what I was going to write about him. One minute I was grabbing three cans out of the laundry fridge for a Blog photo – the next, ‘Take this, lady!’ – he jumped out of my fingers and crashed to the floor.


A laundry explosion

A laundry explosion

I had no idea one can of Diet Coke held that much nasty fluid. Sticky stuff flew everywhere, and right up high on the opposite cupboards too, even though it’s hard to see from the photo. Great. That took at least half an hour to clean. And just when I was getting keen on the idea of blogging again too.

Aeroplane Jelly

Aeroplane Jelly


What really sparked this story was the hot summer weather. As many of you may know, I’ve been writing about going sugar-free this year – (apart from wine, of course) – and am always looking for fresh options to satisfy cravings for treats. So today I thought I’d take the quick and easy route, whip up some jelly and whack it in the fridge.



Jelly ingredients

Jelly ingredients


Even though the packet says ‘low calorie’, I checked the back nutrition panel for an ingredients check and was delighted to see ZERO sugar content. BUT all the chemicals listed did give me cause for concern.



Especially because a doctor friend was recently voicing an opinion that he believes aspartame and other chemical sweeteners are contributing to an increasing number of patients with neurological and immunological diseases – not to mention cancer and multiple sclerosis. Normally I just brush aside those concerns, but today I thought I might take a closer look.

The Chemical Maze

The Chemical Maze

So I reached for a small manual that hides away in a kitchen cupboard – the sort of thing you buy, intending to study up on and never do. It’s called ‘The Chemical Maze‘ by Bill Statham and is a really handy guide to all the potential risks posed by various additives and chemicals.

Well, smack me down with a wet fish if this didn’t accord with my doctor’s theories! Here’s what The Chemical Maze has to say about just two of the chemicals in Aeroplane Jelly:


952 CYCLAMATES, Cyclamic Acid: (artificial sweetener) – “Should be avoided by those with heart, circulation or liver problems: causes bladder cancer in rats, various skin conditions and migraines.”  Nice.

955 SUCRALOSE (Splenda): (artificial sweetener) – “May lead to chronic neurological and immunological disorders; caused enlarged kidneys and liver in animals.”

Evil Diet Coke

Evil Diet Coke

Yikes. That sweet looking jelly doesn’t seem quite so appealing now… So what about Diet Coke? I ran to the laundry to grab a few cans and that’s when one of them chucked a tantrum and exploded, knowing full well I was going to diss him. Yep, sure enough, chock full of Aspartame. Described like this in my handy guide:

951 ASPARTAME (Nutrasweet, Equal): Potential health effects – Cancer, asthma, MS-like symptoms, headaches, hyperactivity, fatigue, anxiety, dizziness, migraine, memory loss, depression, insomnia, irritability, impotence, epilepsy, blindness, diabetes, seizures plus at least 80 others.

That does it. From now on, I am going to HAVE to ditch sugar substitutes AS WELL as sugar!!!!

Summer drink of choice - fresh lime and soda

Summer drink of choice – fresh lime and soda



From now on, my preferred cool drink on a sweltering day (apart from a damn fine chardonnay) will be a refreshing soda with fresh lime juice.






Sugar free butter candy drops

Sugar free butter candy drops

Sadly I went to my treats drawer in my office to ditch my supplies. I picked up my favourite Double D Sugar Free Butter Candy Drops and looked at the back of the packet, expecting to see another nasty list of ingredients. But no. The only suspect was ISOMALT.

Again I check The Chemical Maze.

953 ISOMALT: (Humectant artificial sweetener) – MAY CAUSE INTESTINAL GAS!!!

Oh joy! Now that’s one kind of explosion I CAN live with.



Why I feel like a drug cheat – New Year’s resolution update

I feel a bit like Lance Armstrong today. It’s Tuesday – my day of reckoning – where I have to ‘fess up to how I’ve fared in the past week as far as my New Year’s resolutions have gone. And quite frankly, it’s all about the sugar. I’m aspiring to be like Emma the Guru (who hasn’t had a lolly in SEVEN years) and Sarah Wilson, author of I Quit Sugar, but next to these role models, I’m a failure.

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong

Some say that Lance Armstrong showed little emotion or remorse when interviewed by Oprah Winfrey about his drug-cheating scandal. Not me. On this level, we’re fields apart. I’m lying prone on the floor, beating my fist to the ground and vowing to change my wicked ways. You see, last week I confessed to eating a Choc Top at the Gold Class Cinema.


This week I have sinned not once, but THREE times!! Which means I have completely failed in the first of my five resolutions – to quit sugar – or at least stick to the ONE LINE RULE of not consuming anything above five per cent sugar.

Connoisseur chocolate icecream

Connoisseur chocolate icecream

It must be something to do with me watching movies. Because the second time I fell off the sugar-free bandwagon, I was watching a movie at home with my daughter, Veronica, when she pulled out a tub of my favourite ice-cream. Connoisseur Chocolate Obsession… I watched her enviously as she devoured a bowl and after that, couldn’t get the image out of my mind. Knowing all the while that very tub of ice-cream was only metres away in the freezer, begging me to try some. So I relented. BIG TIME.

I thought I’d grab the tub and just eat a few teensy, weeny mouthfuls, but that turned into a glutinous gorging spree and I finished the whole bucket.

Jersey caramels

Jersey caramels

Then it got WORSE. Veronica had also had friends over to celebrate the end of school holidays so she’d put together a lolly bowl. After the ice-cream, she pulled out the leftovers and there, tempting me viciously, were my most treasured of all lollies – jersey caramels. My much adored, dear-departed Grandmother and I used to share a packet when she took me to the movies as a child. Well, I thought, done my dash with the ice-cream, may as well go the full hog. So I did.

The third sinful moment came when, the next day, I was down the street buying the kids a bakery treat for afternoon tea to mark the first day back at school and that smell of sweet, fresh bread sent my hunger pains into overdrive. Another treat I’ve really missed on this sugar-free caper is the fruit bun. Dried fruit is very bad. But I’d lasted a month, so for my reward, I bought one and gobbled it up while traipsing through the supermarket aisles. Couldn’t even wait till I got home.

As for my other resolutions – not playing I-phone games, exercising at the gym at least three times a week, not smoking and tidying my office – all big ticks for this week. In fact, with exercise, because of my new trainer, I’m going great guns. Maybe that’s why my body has weakened this week with the sugar thing?

Scoops Gelato and Yoghurt Bar -  Acland Street, St Kilda

Scoops Gelato and Yoghurt Bar – Acland Street, St Kilda

But I do have some good news for all the anti-sugar campaigners out there, searching for substitute treats. I found a beauty down Acland Street, St Kilda on Sunday. I was prepared to go without when the family opted for an afternoon ice-cream, but then I spied a sign – sugar-free natural yoghurt!!


Sugar free yoghurt with Stevia

Sugar free yoghurt with Stevia

I bought a tub and it tastes AMAZING. So good, I have planned to cover a story about a shop in Acland Street this afternoon so I can pop back and get some more. This is the best sugar-free discovery I have made yet! Ice-cream has always been my weak point, so now, I may just have found a solution to satisfy that craving.

Hopefully I’ll be able to bring you a better report card next week.



Weekly Update: The best of my New Year Resolutions…


Now coming to the end of January, I look back at how I’ve progressed with my New Year’s Resolutions and I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Some have been tougher than others, and I’ve used the holiday break as an excuse for not fulfilling some – but generally speaking, I’m improving. This blogging caper does help enormously too. It makes you accountable – even in a teeny weeny way.

So let’s do an update and I’ll share what I’ve learned along the way.


(1) Sugar free challenge (apart from wine) – to stick to the ONE LINE RULE diet. (which is not eating products that contain more than 5% sugar)
Even though I confessed in Sunday’s blog that I finally broke my sugar fast on Saturday night while watching a movie at the Village Gold Class Cinema and devouring a Choc Top, I’m going to stick with this one. People have asked why, and I have to say one of the main reasons is how I FEEL. I feel happier and healthier and have loads more energy than ever before. That’s why this is the BEST of all my New Year’s resolutions. It really HAS made a difference. I’m not absolutely certain if it’s kicking sugar, or just that (touch wood) life is pretty good right now, giving me a more positive outlook, but I have a hunch it’s got more to do with the sugar business.

I also love the up-myself, smug feeling I get when standing in the supermarket queue with all those rows of sugar-laden chocolate bars staring at me, begging me to buy them. ‘Ha!’ I say to them. ‘Don’t even THINK you can tempt me! I KNOW you are evil and I am strong enough to resist you!!’ Juvenile, but fun. Empowering.

Chocolate protein balls

Chocolate protein balls

Emma the Guru’s recipe for chocolate protein balls has also been a big winner this week. I just LOVE them and they are now my regular afternoon treat. Just one… most days… Plus I managed THREE alcohol free days – a first in many weeks.



More food updates to come, so stay tuned. But I don’t get a tick for this resolution this week because of the Choc Top moment.

(2) Not to play I-Phone Games

Yes, all good here. A big tick this week.

EXCEPT… that I found a new replacement addiction. I did mention it in a previous Blog, but I’m now going to reveal the evidence. It’s quite brave of me really, because I know many will condemn me for being a complete nerd…


2000 piece jigsaw puzzle

2000 piece jigsaw puzzle

It all started when Veronica asked for a puzzle as one of her Christmas presents. She wanted something more challenging this time, so chose a 2000-piece puzzle. And after Christmas, she invited me to help her put it together. Like most teenagers, she lost interest not far into the game as it proved a tad more challenging than she’d expected…


Stage One...

Stage One…

Except that the rumpus room table was now covered with a barely completed puzzle and I couldn’t bear to pack it away until it had been conquered!

And so the fun began… It became an obsession. I’d start with thinking, ‘I’ll just finish off the parrot’s beak,’ and before I knew it, it was TWO AM!!!


Stage Two...

Stage Two…


Fletch was becoming quite annoyed. I was neglecting the family and household chores – scurrying away upstairs any moment I could to put this damn thing together.  ‘See – the cockatoo is done!’ I’d squeal with delight. He didn’t get it.



A puzzling mess...

A puzzling mess…

Nor was the family pleased I’d covered the floor with pieces. The jigsaw was taking over our lives. But I did love the fact that being up in the rumpus room meant I spent more time with Tom who would be watching sport or playing Play Station with friends while I puzzled away. Every time I fitted a piece, I’d shout ‘YAY’, to which he had to shout back ‘YAY!’ It was a wonderful bonding ritual.

Stage three...

Stage three…


One kind friend suggested my obsession was a reflection of what was happening in my life. That I was figuring stuff out in my head while doing the puzzle and piecing together elements in my life that made sense. I liked that one. I’ll run with that.



Stage Four...

Stage Four…


I think Fletch was more concerned I was regressing into a second childhood. But wait – I found evidence on the internet that doing jigsaw puzzles is wonderful exercise for the brain and makes people incredibly smart. Which means I am now a genius. Cool.



The missing link...

The missing link…


As I neared the end, one missing piece from the Toucan’s beak was driving me crazy. I knew it HAD to be green and black with a stripe in the middle – surely not that hard to find? But no, many a lengthy search proved fruitless… I worried the makers had stuffed up and sold me a puzzle minus a vital finishing piece…was my mission pointless???




Then, at two-thirty in the morning, I thought I was done, but STILL the piece was missing. The anxiety was torturous. I had to get to bed!! An easel with newspaper underneath to protect the carpet was next to the table. I shoved it aside and shook out the paper – and SWEET JOY – the missing piece spilled on to the carpet in all its glory. Victory. My mission was complete. Ahhh….

Picture perfect!

Picture perfect!


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

It’s an on-going, eternal nightmare, but I get a BIG TICK every week till the end of March. The best thing about this resolution is that it means I try to clear away a little bit off the desk each day. So progress, yes, even though it’s just tiny steps.

(4) To go to the gym at least 3 times a week.

I did it! I actually got to the gym THREE times PLUS I have enlisted the services of a new personal trainer – Ross Sheridan – who I began work with on Friday. And you know what? If I hadn’t made an appointment to meet him on Friday, I doubt I would have made it to the gym. Hence the value of personal trainers. I really do need to be accountable… Still, very up-myself for making it to the gym three times. A big tick.

(5) To NEVER smoke another cigarette again.

The best part about this resolution is that it really belongs in last year’s resolution basket, and I am pleased to report, it’s SO much easier this year than last year. So, if it’s of any help to smokers out there, it DOES get better. I also suffer much less from smoker’s envy in social situations, which is fantastic. Another big tick.

Overall, checking the scorecard – that’s four ticks out of five this week, so I’m pretty happy.
Until next week!


How I fell off the NO-SUGAR wagon…


I blame that seductive Gold Class cinema. How dare it be such a perfect host – wrapping me up in the comfort of those cushioning lounges, dim lights, luscious food and wine, transporting me to another world of cinematic fantasy – no wonder my defences were down!

Village Gold Class Cinema, Jam Factory

Village Gold Class Cinema, Jam Factory

For twenty-six days, I stuck firmly to the NO SUGAR – ONE LINE RULE diet, but an evening at the movies last night defeated me…

Knowing I was going out with friends, I’d deliberately stuck to a healthy diet all day. Muesli and yoghurt for breakfast, a can of tuna and Cruskits for lunch, cashews for a snack, plus homemade protein balls – making sure I ate nothing containing more than five per cent sugar.

Shaw and Smith Chardonnay

Shaw and Smith Chardonnay

I’d had an alcohol-free day, the day before, so was delighted when I spied a bottle of one of my favourite chardonnays – Shaw and Smith – on the Gold Class menu. Wine doesn’t come into my version of a sugar-free diet, so I thought I’d treat myself while watching the movie. And Gold Class is like flying first-class on an airline – just as comfy and uber-indulgent, but much more affordable…

Sucked into a world of make-believe and happily scoffing back my wine, it didn’t take long to forget about my sugar-free diet. Now I know I’ve had wine on many occasions while sticking to this diet, but I think it’s the combination of wine and being IN THE DARK and watching a movie, that led to my next mistake.


Choc top ice-cream

Choc top ice-cream

Towards the end of the movie, a friend passed along a box of another of my favourite treats – CHOC TOP ICE-CREAMS!! Without thinking, eyes still glued to the screen, I reached out and grabbed one, whipped off the cellophane and chomped away. After the first mouthful, the realisation hit me.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING????? DAMN! Too late. So of course, I finished it.




So there you have it. I will never be like Emma the Guru who hasn’t had a lolly for seven years. (see Friday’s blog) She has the resolve of a nun. But I DID last TWENTY-SIX DAYS!!  I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I knew I’d have to break sooner or later. And you know what, that Choc Top was the best Choc Top I’ve ever eaten in my life. Bloody well worth it.

Back on sugar-free band wagon today. Will keep you posted.

Emma the anti-sugar Guru – PLUS a special recipe tip


The more I talk with Emma Dumas about the sugar-free ONE LINE RULE diet, the more respect I have for her knowledge and advice. Henceforth, from here on, I will refer to Emma only as Emma the Guru.  (and for newbies, the ONE LINE RULE diet means you can only eat products that contain five per cent or less sugar -always check the nutrition label on all products!)

Emma the Guru

Emma the Guru

I’ve been trying to stick to the ONE LINE RULE diet since New Year’s Eve. I’ve only broken it once – inadvertently – but it is tough. I REALLY miss my chocolate and cakes. And ice-cream. Another reason I call Emma – Emma the Guru – is that she hasn’t eaten ONE lolly or chocolate in seven years. Which is quite phenomenal. In a bow-down-and-scrape-WOW kinda way. Because I am a serious sugar addict.

Lorne Greens

Lorne Greens


Emma also sells one of the only breakfast cereals on the market, THE MUESLI, which is practically sugar-free. It’s mostly sold at exclusive health stores. You can find your nearest stockist by going to The Muesli’s website at http://themuesli.com.au
Emma the Guru’s range is spreading far and wide. From this summer, you can now find The Muesli -even as far away as Lorne at a super cute health shop called Lorne Greens. Yep, I was there and saw it on the shelf. Very impressed!


And no, I am not paid to write this. I bought my own The Muesli at a local health shop yesterday. Emma is a friend, and I am supporting her product because I believe in it and I don’t ask for freebies. And it tastes bloody good. I can’t find anything else that comes close. If you can – let me know.

But it’s now 24 days into this ONE LINE RULE diet and it’s getting a bit boring. I’m also a bit worried that in order to compensate for the lack of sugary treats in my life, I’m over-indulging in every protein bar under five per cent sugar on the planet. This can’t be good – can it? I decided I needed to talk with Emma the Guru for some more advice – and hopefully inspiration – to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Here’s how our chat went:

Jen: So I suppose it’s not good that I’m eating so many protein bars and sugar substitute treats, is it?
Emma: My belief is that the sugar addiction is very much based on that sweet taste which is what you crave. So if you can, try and get away from needing to supplement that sweet taste and ultimately that craving should go away. But in the beginning, particularly if you have been quite addicted, definitely take the odd substitute and have a couple of Jols or something.

Jen: Are protein balls okay?
Emma: I think so. But I also make some great protein balls that have chocolate protein powder and raspberries in them. The kids love them in school lunches.

I had to interrupt our interview at this point, because the instant I heard about these protein balls, I just had to have the recipe. (That magic word ‘chocolate’ did the trick) Especially knowing what a good cook Emma the Guru is…

Here’s how to make them:

Ingredients for Emma the Guru's protein balls

Ingredients for Emma the Guru’s protein balls


The Muesli (of course..) -2 cups
Fresh raspberries – 1 cup
Tahini – 3 to 4 tablespoons
Protein powder – 2 to 3 tablespoons (like Donna Aston’s Protein Supreme chocolate flavour)
Cocoa – a tablespooon
Sweetener – optional



If you’re a really big sweet tooth (like me) you may also want to throw in a spoonful of a sweetener like Stevia. Emma says you mix the whole lot up in a big bowl. The tahini makes everything stick, so you can then roll it up into small balls and place on a tray in the fridge to set.

It’s messy to make and you’ll start to feel like a mud wrestler, but on the upside, you get to lick your fingers.

A yummy mess

A yummy mess

Finger-licking good

Finger-licking good








Now back to the interview.

Jen: I’ve given up so much. Why aren’t I losing weight? What am I doing wrong? Too much alcohol? Too many protein bars?
Emma: I firmly believe that over time, you will absolutely lose weight. You will see it happen. It may just be a slower progression for some.

Jen: Well I suppose I have lost half a kilo.
Emma: Well half a kilo is good! And you really haven’t had to put yourself out too much to lose it.

Jen: What else could I do to help?
Emma: The other thing would be to cut out processed carbs. Anything white really. Processed breads, any processed foods. And generally the ONE LINE RULE cuts out loads of processed foods anyway. But if you do want to accelerate your weight loss a little bit, just cut out processed foods and anything white – potato, rice, pastry and definitely avoid pasta.

Jen: Generally speaking, what is your diet? Do you eat The Muesli for breakfast all the time?
Emma: I do! I eat The Muesli every day.

Jen: What about morning tea?
Emma: No. I find myself sitting at my desk and find myself thinking, “God, I’m starving!” but by then it’s one o’clock in the afternoon and time for lunch. And that is the first time I’ve thought about food because The Muesli seriously fills me up. I might think to have a cup of tea, but I really never eat anything till lunchtime.

Jen: So what do you have for lunch?
Emma: Lunch for me would be something from the fridge – mix up a whole lot of rocket with tuna or salmon and avocado. Or leftovers. I’m a big fan of leftovers. But I think if you’re modifying your diet and avoiding processed foods, then as long as you have a serve of protein and a big serve of salad, you’ll be fine and you will eventually lose weight. And cook a bit extra for dinner – like a bit of extra chicken of fillet and then you can eat that for lunch the next day.

Jen: How important is exercise?
Emma: Oh, I ‘m a big believer in exercise – as much for your mind as anything else. But while exercise helps, I think we lose sight of the fact that losing weight and keeping your body the way you want it is 95% about what you put into your mouth. So yes, I exercise most days – walking and pilates – but first and foremost, I watch what goes into my mouth.

Jen: I love snacks though. So any tips for that problem?
Emma: Well the protein balls we just talked about are good. Or some cheese. And blinis. (small pancakes)  Make these with rolled oats or oat bran – I even grind up some of The Muesli – mix that with some egg and yoghurt, salt and pepper and make little blinis. These are divine with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers.

Jen: What advice can you give me to keep going and stick with this sugar free mission?
Emma: It always depends on just how bad your addiction is. You’ve just got to keep telling yourself that it is an addiction and that it is something inflicted on us by a food industry that will keep on doing it. Everywhere you go, we have sweet treats on shelves in shops, shoved in our faces. It is tough. But the health benefits are massive and you will feel so much better.

Okay. I’m convinced. I’m going to stick with this sugar free mission for a bit longer. Especially now I have the recipe for those chocolate protein balls!! I’ve got a whole tray of them in the fridge now. Enough writing – time for a snack!

Chocolate protein balls

Chocolate protein balls

(p.s. For the recipe, Emma the Guru recommends using Donna Aston’s chocolate protein powder called ‘Protein Supreme’ as others on the market are loaded with sugar. Donna’s on-line store is at http://www.donnaaston.com/store/index.php?category=3)


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!

There is no substitute for jam on toast…

Lindt Chocolate balls

Lindt Chocolate balls

This will be my fourth week on the sugar-free ONE LINE RULE diet and I confess, this last week has been the toughest yet. The novelty has worn off and the temptations are becoming harder to keep at bay. A dinner-party with friends on Saturday night saw me knocking back the offer of chocolate Lindt balls on a plate – my favourite EVER chocolate – and that hurt!


(p.s. For newbies to this regime, the ONE LINE RULE diet means no products containing more than five per cent sugar. It’s all about checking the ONE LINE on the nutrition box of any product you might be tempted to eat. Over 5% and it’s OUT.)

Making chocolate

Making chocolate

Then yesterday, Ronnie decided she might become a CHOCOLATIER after finishing school, so she really needed to learn how to make chocolate NOW. With my help. Without me licking my fingers???? Do you know how hard that is??? You could have put me in the Tower of London and strapped me to a torture stretcher and I would have been happier.


My daughter, the chocolatier

My daughter, the chocolatier


Most teenage daughters persecute their mothers by getting smashed and coming home late in the wee hours of a Saturday morning… Not my daughter. No, she wants me to MAKE CHOCOLATE with her. So demanding. AND she is well aware of my anti-sugar campaign. Unbelievable.


The Muesli

The Muesli




Breakfasts are also tough. I love THE MUESLI but I also like variety. So to mix things up, I usually add a dollop of natural yoghurt to my muesli most mornings and sometimes a bit of fresh fruit. Otherwise, here’s a couple of alternative brekkies that hit the spot:


Oats and berries

Oats and berries



(1) Uncle Toby’s Instant Oats with a dozen fresh raspberries. There’s no sugar in the porridge and I’m allowed one serve of fresh fruit a day, so this is fine. The raspberries give the cereal a little sweet kick and you can always buy a box of frozen berries when they aren’t in season.





Vegemite on toast

Vegemite on toast


(2) Good old Vegemite on toast. Always a winner and butter is acceptable so, you feel like you’re sinning but you’re not. Sadly, peanut butter doesn’t cut it – the 7.4% sugar content takes it over the limit… sigh.




So as you know, I’m very much missing my daily sugar fix. I ‘get it’ now when I remember what Emma The Guru said about sugar being an addiction as serious as any drug you can think of. Withdrawal can lead to desperate behaviour…. like this.

Even though I am coping (and enjoying) the breakfast options above, this morning I was particularly missing the concept of JAM on toast. Caving in to nagging from the kids, I’d purchased a whole loaf of WHITE sourdough bread. Now, there’s nothing better than a thick slice of white bread, toasted, dripping with warm butter and raspberry jam. I couldn’t get this image out of my head. I didn’t want Vegemite. But I knew that the EVIL, WICKED jam, beckoning me from the fridge, had to be kept locked up and well away from my sugar-free self. Still, the thought kept nagging at me. There must be another solution. And then I had a light-bulb moment.

There WAS something in the fridge that MIGHT work as a substitute. The ONLY acceptable BELOW five per cent sugar yoghurt I’d been able to find on the market was TAMAR VALLEY and I had a tub of raspberry yoghurt in the fridge. Ah ha!! Surely that would taste like jam? I would scoop the jammy bit out of the yoghurt and put it on my toast!

It looked like this:

Berry Yoghurt toast...

Berry Yoghurt toast…

One eager, big fat bite.

Munch, munch….. EWWWwwwww!!!

This does NOT taste good. I would NOT recommend trying this for breakfast, or any other meal for that matter. Just so you know. I don’t always get it right.