Sunday, 22 April 2012

There aren't any Kangaroos in this part of the world...

There used to be a time when if I wanted to get into shape, all I had to do was eat jelly (jello) for three days straight and I'd have a stomach flatter than a surf board.

These days, things are laughably (is that even a word?) different. With age comes growth - mentally, psychologically, emotionally and *ahem* physically. Since I changed my diet 6 months ago, I've had my fair share of challenges. For one, I miss bread like the desert misses the rain. But I would be lying through my teeth if I said I've cut it out completely. See, it's these dreaded weekends that really get to me. Let me illustrate:

From Monday to Friday, life is quite simple. I have a cup of coffee with skim milk and sweetener around 07:30am in the morning. And then around 10:30am I usually have another cup of coffee with some fruit; either a banana or apple or papaya or a combination of fruit with yoghurt and a handful of nuts and seeds:
Handful of unsalted almonds, dried cranberries, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds etc. on top of yoghurt and fruit serving

I don't eat anything for the rest of the day mostly because I don't have time. Then around 04:30pm, I do variations of Zumba for 90 minutes.

Then between 06:30pm and 07:00pm, supper follows. When I'm being strict, its always vegetables and rice and chicken or fish served up in a healthy stir-fry. But on other days, Mutton curry and rice do nicely, served with grated carrots and coriander:

And then around 08:30pm, I usually have a cup of tea with one row of Lindt dark chocolate with hazelnuts:

In addition, I drink around 3 litres of water throughout the day and that's how it is from Monday to Friday every single week. But then the weekend sets in and its like everything flies out of the window. For one, I just CANNOT work out on a Saturday, no matter how hard I try. And I also can't stay away from carbs... damn potatoes. Baguettes are the worst. It's like a symphony in my mouth. I'm like an addict. I'd rather eat the baguette and break out and itch for two days then keep to the program.

And the result is that I've got a pouch I can't seem to get rid of. I don't mind being on the round, but this poncho has to go. Damn this aging business. 

All is not lost though because I have a plan. Last week sometime, I came across two articles (actually Mother sent them to me) that have brought some much needed clarity to my life. According to Dr. Marcelle Pick, most people tend to overlook adrenal health leading to adrenal fatigue which is often curable, although many don't know it. 

Amongst many other problems, adrenal fatigue often leads to excess cortisol flooding your system which leads to that annoying abdominal weight that's impossible to get rid of because of an imbalance in hormone levels. And what is the root cause of all this?


And suddenly it all makes sense. I've been through the karmic ringer these past two months, suffering under the weight - no pun intended - of extraordinary stress and pressure with not much relief.

Also, according to Dr. Pick... I've got it all wrong. Firstly she recommends beginning the day with protein within an hour of waking up in the morning. Secondly, I shouldn't be drinking coffee at all, never mind guzzling it down  throughout the day like a bottle of Jack Daniels. She also recommends that any intense exercise be done in the morning to avoid over-stimulating your system and that it's important to have three meals a day with two snacks in between to maintain sugar levels; with breakfast around 7am, lunch between 11am and 12pm and an early dinner between 5pm and 6pm.

So I've decided that from the beginning of May, I'm going to institute a few more permanent changes in my lifestyle. Like severely cutting down on meat and dairy and cutting out caffeine, wheat and wheat products entirely. And eating more regularly. And drinking slightly less water (around 2.5 litres is ideal for me). And making sure I get enough sleep. And switching to decaf coffee and green tea instead. And trying to work out in the morning... oh wish me luck!

For the full articles, click here and here. Both are very informative and it's recommended reading for both women and men alike.


  1. Dr Marcelle Pick. I really hope her diet works so you don't end up referring to her by a rude variation of her name.

  2. Good luck! I've recently had to make some dietary changes to help manage my thyroid problem - and I already feel better.

  3. oh wow. that's quite a diet there, but sometimes i think it may help to allow some food that your body craves for ? have you tried meal replacements? maybe just for the evening meals and perhaps have a strong breakfast. also add some weight training with all that intensive Zumba? i've accepted that i'm never going to be my 44kg self again but that doesnt mean that i'm not going to stay in shape and be fit. right now, i'm combining zumba and strength training. but eating is a huge part of the deal too, and i guess, that is my biggest challenge.
    good luck, Azra, and a little bit of pout around the lower abdominal area is actually quite sexy :)

  4. have you heard of Tim Ferris ? he advocates this eating plan, quite unconventional, but it is supposed to keep you full, without the carb crave, as he encourages slow-releasing carb intake.
    it's pretty doable if you consider it. his book is called The Four Hour Body.

  5. I also have a bit of a pooch I cannot get rid of. I reckon that does come with age. I love how healthy you are! But how, oh how don't you eat for the rest of the day after your midmorning snack?! I eat breakfast, second breakfast, a snack, lunch, maybe another snack, supper and then tea (and maybe a biscuit or two). Hmmm...looking at it typed out, maybe that is why I have a pooch! LOL The S.O said my body is fine (maybe he has to say that) but last night I told him I want to be strong and firm instead of weak and wobbly - I cannot open any jar or cool drink bottle on my own! Imagine!

  6. I also have a bit of a pooch I cannot get rid of. I reckon that does come with age. I love how healthy you are! But how, oh how don't you eat for the rest of the day after your midmorning snack?! I eat breakfast, second breakfast, a snack, lunch, maybe another snack, supper and then tea (and maybe a biscuit or two). Hmmm...looking at it typed out, maybe that is why I have a pooch! LOL The S.O said my body is fine (maybe he has to say that) but last night I told him I want to be strong and firm instead of weak and wobbly - I cannot open any jar or cool drink bottle on my own! Imagine!

  7. Good luck...whatever you do, make sure it's reasonable and sustainable. Better to have something that you can keep up with than something too extreme that's going to wear you out - to the point where you give up and just pig out as a 'reward' or 'break' from the regime.

  8. I'm on board! I'll turn over a new leaf with you. I've been slacking for over a month now. I need to get back on track. Let's do it! :D

  9. All I can say is I hope you'll find a diet that actually works for you. What works for me is to never skip my breakfast and to stay away from candy and coca cola, which I never buy. But everyone is different, of course, and you may be one of those people who gain weight by looking at a glass of water.

  10. I'm on this amazing KFC diet. So far it's not working, but on the plus side I realized I have staying-power. I wish you all the best in your diet Azra.

  11. Good luck with this. Oh the days when a bit of exercise and eating healthy was enough!

    Recently trying to slim down as well. My plan is actually to eat larger breakfast and cut out carbs for dinner. Hope I can stick with the plan and good luck to yours!

  12. GB
    I'm confident it will work. Consistency is key. I feel sorry for her kids though - with a surname like that I'm sure they gave a lot of their school mates something to snigger about.

    Roving Retorter
    Thanks! I'm sure you feel better. It's amazing how your health affects your emotions.

    I can't do weight training because I bulk up - I put on too much muscle. So I have to do a routine that builds lean muscle. My main problem is that I'm allergic to wheat and preservatives - they actually inhibit my weight loss...but I'm struggling to stay away from them especially on the weekends! But thanks for the Tim Ferris tip :)

    It's quite simple actually. I just don't have the time. And I also make sure that there isn't any junk food available for me to eat - so I carry very little money with me so that I can't buy anything and I don't really take any other lunch or eat from the canteen. And coffee... the natural appetite suppressant ;)

    This is exactly what I'm going for - sustainability. I'm looking for a program to fit into my lifestyle instead of a "diet". I don't like dieting because most of the time people end up gaining more than they lose.

    We can help each other ;) The change in weather over here hasn't helped.

    I'm not looking for a diet Randy, I want to make healthy lifestyle changes that I can incorporate with daily living. I don't drink coke either (haven't for the last 12 years)... but the chocolate. Oh the chocolate... ;P

    Haha!! I know someone who's on a McDonalds diet... some people are blessed with good genes so that they always manage to fit into their jeans no matter what they eat!

    I actually enjoy living a healthy and fit lifestyle. It feels great to climb eight flights of stairs without huffing and puffing at the top... good luck with your plan too. Sounds like a good one. I tend to shy away from breakfast because I end up being hungrier throughout the day - but I guess kickstarting the metabolism is the whole point huh.

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  15. I feel for you. Stress adds all sorts of unpleasant complications to life - not the least of which is the production of cortical steroids that promote weight gain.

    The answer, is to reduce stress while increasing your metabolism. Sadly, age tends to play havoc with things as what you eat tends to stick...

  16. Sadly, stress happens to be one of the things we can't run away from.

  17. Thanks for linking to those articles! Really?! STRESS can make you GAIN weight?? WTF?
    Protein breakfasts (and also, lunches) ARE the best - they keep you going longer. I love making hummus from almost any kind of bean I have available at the time (garbanzo, pinto, black beans)...I recently used this recipe:

    If I don't have much time, a green bell pepper, spinach and oregano omelette does the trick.

    Mmmm, the mutton curry looks delicious. When are we going to get together and cook?? :)

  18. Ohhhh I totally hear you! I am usually so good during the week - no carbs during the day and then the weekend hits and it's all over!

  19. I'm in awe at your discipline for the most part of the week. IN AWE. I would not be able to stick to that EVER. Someone bought me a book called the sleep diet. Basically, just go to bed. I'm all for that. By the way, muffin tops/paunches are the new back off. Show it off and have another slice of chocolate.

  20. LL
    Thanks for the support LL. And you're right, I need to reduce the stress and speed up the metabolism.

    Terra Shield
    I don't think running away is the answer either. I do think that perhaps I could learn to deal with things better.

    I would love to be able to cook my days away with you. I made a bean curry earlier in the week and it was quite good. We have to exchange recipes!

    The weekends are truly the worst mostly because the people we are surrounded by tend to be less health conscious and it's a breeding ground for "social eating/drinking" aka stuffing your face ;)

    My will power and determination amazes even me. But you'd be less impressed if you saw what went down on the weekends haha!

  21. What is it with women and chocolate. I've been around for forty plus one years and I still don't get it. Whenever I'm explaining the meaning of words like entice, lure and tempt, I make the girls in my classroom imagine a box of chocolates staring them in the face. They always get it... (as in understand what I'm trying to say.... get it?) ;)

  22. Just stumbed upon your blog, courtesy of Michi!

    WOW- Good for you for being so regimented with meals and eating!

    I couldn't do it! I love food too much and when I know I shouldn't do something, it makes me want to do it more!

  23. RCB
    Randy, even I'd like to know what is it with women and chocolate. I'm trying to steer clear ;P

    Welcome! I'm only regimented when I want to be - I've been blessed with great willpower but no direction, metaphorically speaking ;P

  24. I think stress is the key, we work longer hours now and even out weekends seem to be going. It's like all those people who fought and died for our weekends did it for nothing. I never had yoghurt with nuts, but i do get a tub of bio yoghurt and i add fruit to it every now and again. That seems to be healthy.I used to be so fit, now i am so fat. I think i just need to change the alphabet and turn 'i' in to 'a'.

  25. sunderland art student
    I'm trying really hard to keep the "i" in fit and not let it become an "a". Been making progress so far :)