Golden Moments with Uncle Toby’s Quick Oats

If you think the title reads like a bit of a spruik for Uncle Toby’s, you’d be right.

I’m sharing my breakfast with you this morning.

Well, at little. You still need to, you know, make your OWN breakfast.

Ahem. Moving on.

It’s a well-known fact that a couple of years ago I developed a taste for porridge. I used to hate the stuff. The thought of it made me gag but then, somewhere in between my childhood and my early 30s (err, the much latter end of that spectrum), I forgot how much I disliked the stuff and ended up with a bowl of it on my lap one day.

And it was good.

Porridge is, quite frankly, the best comfort-come-breakfast-come-anytime meal you can possibly enjoy. And even better is that it’s actually good for you.

Porridge is literally my dream morning breakfast. Followed by a massive cup of tea and some chocolate. But it’s mostly about the porridge.

So when the awesome folks at Nuffnang put out the call for folks to try the new range of Uncle Toby’s Quick Oats Sachets, I was all “GIMMESUMMADAT!”

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Oaty goodness!

I scored a couple of the huge variety boxes and I have been very thorough in my research – each flavour has been tested and I can say with absolute authority that I love pretty much all of them.

These babies cook up so fast! All you need to do is chuck the contents of the sachet into a bowl, pour in half a cup of water or milk (I’m definitely a milk girl), then pop it in the microwave and, quicker than you can give your cat her thyroid meds, it’s done! Stir and serve! And if you’re diet conscious like I am supposed to be, these are high on the good stuff, low on the bad stuff and don’t contain any artificial colours and addititves – because no one needs that sh… stuff… in their system!

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Into zee bowl!

Now, the thing you have to remember with quick oats as opposed to the traditional rolled oats is that they’ve been mashed up to allow them to cook much faster, so the texture is way different from rolled oats. It’s a lot smoother!

With me, I actually added a bit more milk than recommended. As this stuff cools a little, it thickens up and some people may not enjoy that. The first time I tried them, I thought it was a little claggy. (Tasted good, just claggy.)

(I give honest reviews.)

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Milk added and into zee nuker. (Don’t judge the un-cleanliness of my microwave – it’s better than it was five minutes before this shot was taken.)

So yeah, I have tried all the flavours – basically one a day, and I have to say that the Strawberry flavour is my favourite, followed closely by Apple & Raspberry. The one I didn’t like so much was Blueberry. It’s a bit of a nothing-wishy-washy flavour that neither tastes like blueberry or porridge. It’s weird.

I love these things. I usually leave porridge as a weekend breakfast deal since it takes so long to cook but with the sachets, 90 seconds and it’s done. I don’t have to get out of bed any earlier than I have to! And a hot, porridgey breakfast is a great start to any day.

And of course what’s porridge without banana?

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Mmmmm… banana! (With Apple & Honey.)

And what’s better than porridge with banana?

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MOAR BANANA!

There can never be too much banana in porridge.

Mini Foodie Tour of Trentham & Daylesford

Ok, so we actually went for this little trip in March but it’s only been recently that I’ve been able to play on my new computer to blog about ALL THE THINGS.

It started off one Friday evening with me saying “I don’t want to spend all day on the computer tomorrow…”

Oh, the irony.

To which the Manbeast replied, “Well, what would you like to do?”

To which I replied, “I have no idea!”

To which he replied, “That’s not very helpful!”

And so it continued, with me looking up all the farmers markets or events in the usual places we like to go, only to find out that they were happening either the week before or the week after our intended visit. Much annoyance. Eventually the Manbeast got fed up with the to-ing and fro-ing over where to go and decided to make the decision for us and surprise me with a trip to Somewhere.

As it turned out, Somewhere turned out to be a little foodie tour of our favourite country spots, Trentham and Daylesford and some of the surrounding areas in the Hepburn Shire.

So our first (and longest) stop was in Trentham and wouldn’t you know it? There was a farmers market on.

So while we listened to the fun music…

… we shopped. And we bought food…

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Real peanut butter made with real peanuts. Giant cookies and cured gourmet meats… Omnom!

What I didn’t take pictures of was the jerky and the home-made raspberry jam that we also bought. Hand-made and local produce really is the best.

But then I found a stall selling shortbread. Real shortbread. Made by real hands in a real home kitchen that’s probably much neater than mine…

Look at the magnificence that is the shortbread:

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The shortbread shortly after I got it home… Yes, there is a piece missing. Call it ARTISTIC LICENSE. And I was hungry.

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Another gratuitous shortbread shot. Drool. Oh, the flakey goodness. More drool.

Our food adventures weren’t to stop there as the Manbeast was also taking me somewhere nice for brunch. And as it turned out, we were going to Redbeard Bakery.

OMG.

This is my new favourite place, ever.

The food… ALL THE FOOD!

Seriously, it’s a lovely little cafe bakery with a great range of produce to buy and goods to devour on the spot.

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Redbeard Bakery

But the highlight of brunch, and indeed the entire day out was this, the Vanilla Slice.

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Behold, the custardy goodness! Yes, I attacked it before I took a photo of it. I couldn’t help myself.

I had an existential moment over this vanilla slice.

Or it might have been an orgasm.

I’m not sure which.

It was bloody good, though.

After recovering from the vanilla slice moment, the Manbeast whisked me off to a few more places (which fortunately had nothing to do with food as I was extremely full by this stage) but I will save those images for another time.

Now, one cannot go to Daylesford without visiting the Chocolate Mill. All year round (except February), the Chocolate Mill is a must-go destination for those who love good Belgian chocolate. And they have a great little cafe that does the nicest hot chocolates.

Our recommendation is the dark chocolate for hot chocolates. It’s the yummest by far.

Renlish.com - Trentham & Daylesford Food Tour

The Manbeast “posing” with his chocolate… and the sign to more chocolate… which I ate most of before thinking to take another picture. I suck as a food blogger.

So if you’ve made it all the the way to the end without drowning your keyboard in drool, tell me what you think! Do you know any other places (in Victoria) worth a visit to go and stuff my face at?

I’ve already got a certain chocolate factory in the Yarra Valley on my list…

Porridge for the Soul

That title isn’t a metaphor. I am actually talking about porridge.  I’ve grown to love the  stuff.  Oat porridge, semolina porridge (which is awesome if you’ve never tired it), plain porridge, porridge with STUFF in it…

It’s all good. And I’m in healthy mode these days so long gone are the much loved Bacon and Egg Breakfasts.

Though I still love bacon.

And eggs.

So here are a couple of my favourite porridge combos for those chilly weekends when all you want to do is stay in bed with a nice cup of tea and a book with something nourishing to eat. And it can be done in a microwave – because I am a one-pot-wonder I prefer it this way but if you like to cook your porridge on the stove, go right ahead.

(These aren’t new, but new to me.)

Banana Nut Porridge

If you’re a nut, honey and banana freak like me, you’ll love this. The LSA adds a lovely nutty flavour without being as ProPoints/calorie damaging as throwing in a handful of plain ground nuts.  And of course bananas and honey combined is food of the gods.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Serve of oat porridge.  For me a serve is 45g which equates to half a cup of oats.
  • Double ratio of milk to oats. (1 cup water to 1/2 cup oats.)
  • 1 large definitely ripe-but-not-black banana. Um, I am not racist (banana-ist?) against black bananas. If you like black bananas, have black bananas. If you like green bananas, have green bananas. I like the natural sweetness from a ripe, slightly spotty banana and I’d personally save the really mushy stuff for baking.
  • LSA – aka Linseed, Sunflowers and Almond. This stuff is killergood for you but can be high for ProPoints so watch your serves – 1 tbsp is enough for me. You can find it health food shops and in your health aisle at the supermarket.
  • Honey … for honey love…

Method:

  1. Cook your oats with your milk as you see fit and while that’s bubbling away, chop your ‘nana.
  2. And that’s ‘nana as in BAnana as opposed to your actual Nana which would be gross…
  3. Unless you were a zombie in which case… nom?
  4. Anyway… once your BANANA is chopped and your porridge is cooked, throw it all together in the pot/bowl with your LSA and mix.
  5. Have a wee taste and see if it’s sweet enough for you. If you’ve used a ripe banana, it might not need anything but if you’ve used green banana or are an incurable sweet tooth like myself, mix in a teaspoon of honey. That’s really all you need and the flavour of banana and honey? OH. MY. GOD.
  6. Eat with wild, noisy abandon!

Tip: I like to make sure the bananas are slightly cooked into the porridge so I throw everything back into the microwave for 30 seconds.  It increases the intensity of the flavour.

Apple Cinnamon Porridge (with Honey)

Are we sensing a honey theme here?  Honey makes everything good.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Serve of oat porridge
    Double ratio of honey to milk (see above)
  • 1 Pink Lady or Gala apple, peeled and finely chopped.  NO – DO NOT USE GRANNY SMITHS FOR THEY ARE FOUL AND DISGUSTING CREATURES.
  • Cinnamon … about a quarter tsp (pronounced “tsssssp”)
  • Honey or dark brown sugar … mmmm…

Method:

  1. Make your porridge… as you do… but only to 3/4 cooked!  Then stop! This is important.
  2. Chop your apple.  REMEMBER, IF YOU USE GRANNY SMITH APPLES YOU WILL DIE A HORRIBLE PAINFUL DEATH WHERE… I DON’T KNOW… A THOUSAND CAT TONGUES WILL FLAY THE FLESH FROM YOUR BONES… OR SOMETHING.  JUST DON’T.
  3. Add your apple and cinnamon to your porridge and continue cooking until cooked.  (Yep, that makes perfect sense.) Stewed apple is awesome so slightly softened apple with the cinnamon makes this taste like apple pie… Mmm.
  4. If you want extra sweetness, add the honey.
  5. Munch and enjoy!

Tip: Alternatively, if you want a caramel-ish flavour instead of a honey flavour, add dark brown sugar.

For the Weight Watcher people: Obviously I can’t really give you ProPoints values as you add everything to taste and the volumes you prefer (and I no longer have access to the calculators to work it out) but generally speaking it’s a higher-than-average PP breakfast, which is why I would save it to the days you really want something substantial.

 

The Pintester Movement – “Pigs in Mud”

Ok… so I did the Pintesting thing.

For the uninitiated, “pintesting” is actually attempting one or more of the bajillions of things you’ve “pinned” on your Pinterest boards.

These are my Pinterest boards. As you can see, the craft and cookery ones are choccers full of stuff I would like to try.

Anyway, in the spirit of Sonja, “The Pintester‘s”, Pintester Movement*, I joined in by doing this cake which, like a lot of people who’ve seen the original picture all over the web, I’ve been obsessing over.

(*Link will work as of 30th May… or 1st June Aussie time.)

I mean… come on. It’s pigs. In mud. How hard could it be? I’ve always been pretty good at this food crafty stuff. I used to occasionally make marzipan figures for cakes many, many years ago – so maybe I had a little head-start with this one which may or may not be in the true spirit of pintesting, but ANYHOO…

The Night Before.

When I decided to do this, I posted up on my Facebook wall that I wanted to make a cake. Because I don’t really want to put back on too many of the 50kg (~100lb) that I’ve lost over the past couple of years, I also asked if there was anyone local who wanted said cake. Of course the response I received was expected. Naturally lots of people wanted cake. Fortunately I had a friend who’s daughter was turning six five on Tuesday (28th May) so it was perfect for her birthday and I felt a sense of good-deed-ism for inadvertently doing this for a special occasion.

Unfortunately this meant that I HAD to get the cake done well before the Pintester Movement deadline of May 30. EEEEEEEEP! I actually had to get it done to deliver the next day! I say again; EEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

So I ran (drove) to the shops and bought everything (most things) that I needed to make the cake.

So the whole process started by looking like this:

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Cream and chocolate in a bowl to make ganache.

And I’d already made my first mistake.

See, the recipe called for 300ml cream to 600gm chocolate.

Which stupid blonde made a 1:1 version involving 600ml cream and 600gm chocolate?

Oh yeah. Me.

So whilst I had ganache, it was very runny and I knew that even leaving it sit overnight, it would still be too runny to use on the cake.

So I sent the manbeast out to buy more chocolate. Which he did. And I ended up with a shit-ton of chocolate ganachey goodness as a result because I added another 600gm of chocolate to the bowl. That’s nearly 2kg (4.4lb) of ganache, people!!!!

Next on the agenda was preparing the fondant for making the pigs. I knew I wouldn’t have time for mixing it up the next day so I grabbed some food colouring and went to work massaging the stuff into lovely pinkness.

Insert an inappropriate comment filled with sexual innuendo here.

Renlish.com - Pigs in Mud Cake, Pintester Movement

Don’t judge me. It was 11pm and what would you do if you were faced with something that was pliable and pink?

Semi-Serious Tip: To get the perfect “piggy” pink, add some apricot colouring to the mix. It tones down the pink and makes it slightly more realistically fleshy coloured.

And then I went to bed.

Continue reading

Goal Settin’…

(NB: Posted originally on my weightloss blog a few days ago.)

Last night I set one.

See, I had a major case of the munchies and I belatedly realised that the munchies occur more often due to excess sugar I’ve consumed. And then I’m not just craving sugar  -  I am craving ANYTHING.

I ate a whole packet of cheese at midnight last night.

Gouda.

It was goodah.

Sorry, bad pun.

Fortunately it was just ten pre-sliced sandwich slices.

Anyway… I’m eating this cheese and I am actually mentally asking myself, “Ok, you’re eating cheese at midnight and your stomach is going to feel like lead and you’re not going to be able to sleep for another couple of hours… why did you want this cheese?”

And myself, still eating the cheese, says “I thought I was hungry. I knew as soon as I opened the fridge that I wasn’t really hungry. I just remembered what cheese tasted like and I wanted to taste it again…”

This is starting to sound like a dirty novel.

50 Shades of Cheese.

Actually… the real books could have been called that…

I digress.

So me asks myself, “So… you needed TEN slices of cheese to remember?”

And myself hangs her head in shame.

So me nods and says “You’re only eating because of the sugar thing and how it’s put you back in the habit of just constantly wanting something in your mouth”.

Ooooheerrr, back to the cheesy novel…

But you get the picture. I realised that I have let myself slide back into old habits. Emotional eating only achieves one thing – adding weight.  It does not make you feel better. It feels nice, sure, but so does a good orgasm – and neither of them last forever.

The really funny thing is that nothing I eat actually tastes all that freakin’ wonderful. I’m just… eating. (And eating and eating…)

So I made the conscious decision that today I was going to eat clean for one day. Or at least my version of clean which is only slightly less dirty.

The goal was to do JUST ONE DAY.

I did it.

My food consisted of a really yummy high fibre cereal (GoldenVale “Fruit & Fibre” from ALDI, it’s actually really yummy), a caesar wrap and a cup of tea from Muffin Break and dinner was a huge serve of pumpkin and broccoli, my two favourite veggies, ever.  I also had a couple pieces of fruit and some dried dates throughout the day but that’s natural sugar, not cakes and lollies.

I am WAY under my Weight Watchers points but I don’t care because right now, as I am typing this, I am full to bursting.

I was surprised that my cereal kept me really full for much of the morning, and it may have also been the distraction of being dragged along to the shops with my family but I wasn’t feeling actual hunger until about 12.30pm.  And once I’d had my wrap and tea, I was alright again.

And then I got hungry at 5.30pm for dinner and decided to cook at about 6pm.  To be honest, I was going to make my pumpkin frittata thing but the eggs were old and I got a case of the CBFs, so I steamed my pumpkin and broccoli. It was yum.

As a reward, tomorrow I am going to try to make oven-baked sweet potato chips and have them with some salsa for lunch.

Because tomorrow I am planning on a repeat of today.

Second goal – do it again and get a minimum of 5AP (Activity Points) for the day.

These are the most infantile of baby steps but I think it’s what I need.  At the moment it’s hard for me to see past the next hour, let alone the next day or week, given everything that’s been going on.

Anyway, that’s it.

Cheesits!

Ah hah!

Ah hah!

Cookie Monster Biscuits

Yesterday I got the urge to bake.

It was 4pm, I’d been bored for much of the weekend and I thought “Man, I just want to bake something”.

I felt like making ginger biscuits because Tony had given me some that he’d made on Friday, which I all but inhaled before I’d even managed to drive all the way home from his place, and I had the taste for them again. There is nothing better in the world than a chewy ginger cookie, right?

Except for chocolate chip cookies! Which I also love.

So after looking up cookie recipes and cancelling out anything that needed “kneading” or “chilling” or, fuck, even “melted butter”, I settled on a recipe in my Australian Women’s Weekly baking book for some chewy chocolate chip cookies.

I looked in the cupboards and saw that, apart from a container of plain flour, I had NOTHING with which to do my baking.

Which sucked.

But this is what happens when you’re trying to lose 75kg of excess fatness from your body, alright? Don’t hate on me.

So I stormed off to the shops to get supplies. Seriously, I stormed because I hate it when stupid things like not having ingredients gets between me and cookie consumption.

I came back with all manner of stuff required for cookie making… and some stuff that wasn’t… like condensed milk; two cans thereof, (WTF?) and yet another bottle of ground ginger (I have two already)… And enough flour and sugar to make about four hundred batches of biscuits or at least two hundred cakes. Or at least a few sticky slices of one sort or another. Or I might just drink the condensed milk straight because that stuff is toodamnedgood.

So… on with the cookie-making.

I don’t stand on ceremony. I just chucked everything into a bowl. A cup of brown sugar, half a cup of caster sugar, half a cup of plain flour, a cup and a half of self-raising flour all in and mixed up. I will admit that mixing your dry ingredients first and then adding the wet stuff is much more convenient, so I followed those directions. And then I added the wet ingredients…

Now, it called for “melted but cool” butter.

Sorry, you can’t have it both ways, Australian Women’s Weekly. Cooled butter is hard butter. So hot fresh-out-of-the-microwave melted (like LAVA) butter was thrown into the mix.

And then, just to add insult to injury, the recipe called for one egg… and one egg yoke.

I won’t repeat what I said at that point but I will say that two WHOLE eggs were thrown into the bowl (sans shell) and mixed with vigour. I did notice that the batter was a tiny bit wet (probably because of the whole melted butter and two eggs thing) so I just added more flour, because that’s what you do, right? A extra half a cup of flour won’t hurt anyone.

Then I read “add chopped macadamia nuts” and I was all like… WHAT? What chewy chocolate chip recipe calls for macadamia nuts?

Well, I had no nut of any description so I upped the dosage of chocolate chips instead. An entire packet.

We do CHOCOLATE-FUCKING-CHIP in this house.

Anyway, dough made, and you know what that means, right?

Approximately half the dough gets eaten, uncooked.

Oh god, it was yum.

I know a lot of people squirm over the whole “raw egg” thing when they eat batter of any description but let me tell you here and now, unless the eggs you’ve used are so old they’re practically green when you crack them open, you are not going to get sick. I have 30+ years experience of licking bowls and spoons and beaters clean, let alone making off with entire batches of cookie dough to eat. I’m still alive.

It doesn’t kill you, it just makes you fat.

Anyway, I digress.

So, according to the directions, we needed to put two tablespoon lots onto the tray. Easy enough. I’m not one of those folks who use those new fangle-dangle ice cream scoops to scoop perfectly even portions. I use my fingers and guesstimate.

So my cookies were made with the equivalent of four tablespoons BUT I DON’T CARE.

After sharing out the cookie dough roughly evenly between the baking tray and my mouth, I threw the whole kit and caboodle into the oven to cook.

And watched in horror as the cookies exploded all over the tray. They grew… kinda big… and butted into each other. Perhaps I should have used extra plain flour instead of self-raising when I added more? Who knows. All I know is that I have cookies exploding to the size of my head in my oven at that point.

The recipe called for cooking them for 16 minutes (who makes these numbers up?) but I was pulling mine out at the 9-10 minute mark as my oven is knackered and can’t decide whether to be extra hot or stone cold. (This time it was hot).

They had spread out way more than what it shows in the picture in the book but I’ll admit that probably had something to do with my messing with the recipe more than anything else. But eating them is still a joy. The edges are slightly cripsy and the middle is buttery soft.

Frankly, delicious, if I do say so myself.

Renlish.com - Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies of Nomminess!

Yes, this post was inspired by Tony and his newish blog, Tony Bakes and also by my mother’s new cooking blog which will hopefully be revealed sometime this century.

Ren’s Rules for Losing Weight (Part 3 – The Advice Bit)

Ok, this is the last installment. If you want to read the other rants on this topic…

Part 1 – The Food Bit

Part 2 – The Exercise Bit

So now onto part three and the whole reason I decided to write this little rant-series.

When people ask for advice these days, I sort of cringe because I know more often than not I am not going to give them the answer that they want to hear in order to help. I would happily discuss Weight Watchers and weight loss all day if you want me too, just not in the realms of providing advice – unless it’s someone that’s already committed to their journey and then I try to be EVERYTHING helpful.

So here’s my advice for people seeking weight loss advice…

Listen to what’s being said. Take it on board. Whether you agree with it or not is beside the point. What you are being told is what you have asked for. It’s advice from a person who’s methods have worked for THEM.

The worst part of this is that I have given advice to someone who has then proceeded to argue with me.

Um… ok. Which one of us has lost 50kg and which one of us… hasn’t?

But anyway, if that person’s methods ring bells with you, great! If they don’t, thank your friend for their wisdom and move onto more fun topics of conversation.

There are folks who will tell you that eating a small meal eight times a day will help you lose weight.

There are folks who will tell you that regular fasting and detox is great for you.

There are folks who will swear black and blue that the “energy out/energy in” equation does not exist and the key to weight loss is all in our genetic makeup or our environment.

There are some who will swear by drinking odd vegetable juice mixes for 60 days and others who will believe that having bacon at every meal is the answer to your weight loss prayers.

Fact is, all these things work – but they work on an individual level. You need to find what works for you.

The worst thing you can do is ask for advice and then merrily proceed to pick apart that advice, particularly in the presence of the person you’ve asked for help.

Be respectful. Someone’s just opened up and shared part of themselves with you in order to help you out.

As uncomfortable as it makes me I will still tell anyone who asks what has worked for me because I may just be the one who helps that elusive “light bulb” moment happen for someone else in the same way it happened for me.

Ren’s Rules for Losing Weight (Part 2 – The Exercise Bit)

Exercise used to be a dirty, dirty word in my house.

To some extent it still is.

I dislike the actual doing of exercise but it’s something that must be done.

It’s a necessity. I am sorry to admit it but it’s one of those things that you need, not only to keep your bits working like they should but it’s actually great for brain health as well.  I can’t believe I am saying this, but as someone who is depressed a lot of the time, exercise floats my boat almost as well as a good session between the sheets – y’know what I’m sayin’?  Good hormones are released when you exercise and all your bits feel better for being used… I feel spasmodically awesome when I leave the gym all sweaty and doing an impression of a tomato in ill-fitting workout gear.

In other words, you need it.

Don’t make excuses to avoid it.

“Oh, I’m too unfit/injured/unwell!”
No you’re not.  If you have legs that work, you can use them.  If you have arms that work, you can use those.  And even if they don’t work as well as they should, you can still use them a bit.

I know someone who has very bothersome knees and she’s managing to get around the block on a regular basis.  My friend Janet busted her ankle earlier this year and deals with daily pain and soreness and puts me well to shame with going to the gym every day bar Sundays …or… one day… I am sure she rests at least one day a week… Anyway, point is, you can do it.  I started off with chronic back problems and I still have very bad hip and lower back problems that I need to be very careful of but 50kg lighter makes doing exercise a hell of a lot easier.

The trick is to start with baby steps.  Throwing yourself into a gym routine can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re starting big, like I did.  I lost 20kg before I even thought about doing water aerobics or going to the gym. That was a long time.  I was seeing a personal trainer though – less daunting to face one fit person rather than a whole room of them.  I also hired a treadmill for a few months and then bought a $50 exercise bike off ebay.  I bought a freakin’ dog that needs walks almost every day!  These are the sorts of baby steps anyone could handle.

“I don’t have enough money to hire gym equipment/see a PT/go to gym.”
Oh yeah?  Rubbish.  Ok, maybe personal trainers are a bit of an expense, and hiring a treadmill can hit the back pocket rather hard, but there are alternatives to everything.

DVDs are a great way to work out in the privacy of your own home. Most of them are priced between $10-$50 depending on the theme of the program.  You can get everything from fun Zumba routines to step aerobics to complete body shreds.  Minimal outlay to maximum benefit.

No one says you have to leave your house and spend more money, either.  You can use kitchen chairs, benches or coffee tables to do squats, sit-ups, push-ups and more. Hell, I do stomach crunches laying on my bed! You can use soup cans, bottles of water, a couple of small cats or books as weights.

And you know… walking is free.  Find time. I used to go walking during my lunch breaks at work. I found a nice trail by the Yarra and I walked it. And I made it a game – there were other regular walkers too who I made the effort to beat to certain points along the way.  I’m sure some of them thought me quite insane and a bit stalkery…

And seriously… my gym costs me $11.50 a week.  I can go in there as much or as little as I like. It’s open 24/7.  It’s not THAT big an expense.  Look up Jetts or Snap Fitness.  An aerobics session costs me $10.50 for 45 mins.  A personal trainer costs me $35 for a 40 min session.  Weigh up what works for you… um, no pun intended.

“But everyone will be watching me and thinking bad things about me!”
Well, yeah, maybe.  There are shitheads and douchbags everywhere. But you’ll find that they are not the majority.  I can promise that most folks in the gym are too busy doing their workouts to care if a yet another fat sweaty person is on the treadmill beside them.  From personal experience most will probably approve of your presence, particularly if you become a regular. You might even make some new friends and inspire others.

“But I don’t want to!”
TOUGH TITTIES.

Do it.

My routine is generally a 30-40min run on the crosstrainer or an up-hill walk on the treadmill and then 10 mins on a rower, and then weights, weights and weights.

Cardio is great for heart health however in order to lose weight effectively you also need to build muscle mass – that involves muscle building and toning exercises.  If there is one piece of advice I would impart it would be to make sure you get the all clear from your doctor before starting any gym routine.  I would also invest in at least ONE session with a trainer so you can learn to use the equipment safely and get a basic routine set up.

 

Ren’s Rules for Losing Weight (Part 1 – The bit about Food)

Preamble:  When I first started writing this blog post, I had no idea how long I’d be writing for, so I am breaking it up into parts. Enjoy and take from it what you like.

I’ve been doing this weight loss thing for a while now.  Pretty much all my life if you wanted to count the number of times I’ve attempted and failed and from what age I started – which would be around 13, if I remember vaguely correctly – so 20 years worth of knowledge there.  I pretty much know what works and what doesn’t.

I am totally an expert at what doesn’t, as it happens.

Just so you know.

YEARS of study there too.

Because I’ve lost a fairly substantial amount of weight this time around, more and more people have been asking me what my secret/method/process/whatever is. It’s always so disheartening for me because I know what the reaction to what I have to say will be.

Oops. Unintentional rhyme.

Anyway, the reaction is always disbelief and disappointment or a telling silence.

I will be honest and say that it’s starting to get to the point where it’s making me angry.

I got an email from a friend of a friend who was very impressed with my weight loss and, I quote: “You’ve got to have some advice!”

I do. But I’ve come to the conclusion that most folks don’t want to acknowledge the cold, hard truth of the matter. It’s too simple and it’s too hard.

Source: atalante.co via Erin on Pinterest

 

Look, I am really, really sorry but THERE IS NO MAGIC CURE FOR FATNESS. There really isn’t.  I WISH there was.  I, of all people, know how hard it is to be huge and deal with the mental and physical ramifications of being morbidly obese, let alone deal with what society at large thinks of fat people and what it can do to relationships.

It hurts. A lot.  All of it fucking hurts.

But it’s fixable if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to do it.  I have friends who’ve proven that a little effort on your part reaps great rewards.

And that’s the key; EFFORT.  Not “will power”.  EFFORT.  Having “no will power” is just a quick way of saying “I am too lazy to put in the effort I know it will take to do this”.

Ok, so here I will break down what you need to do to be successful in getting fit and losing weight according to Ren.

Because it’s all about me, after all.

Disclaimer: I am speaking as a middle-class female in her mid-thirties who got up to 152kg at her heaviest but was still mostly healthy (heart, lungs, blood pressure, etc).  This works for me but it may not work the same for you. Consult a medical practitioner before you do any program that involves food and exercise to make sure there are no particular health concerns you need to be aware of.

Ok, food.  You need to eat.  Regardless of how big you are, you NEED to eat and you need to eat a good balance of food. That includes trans, unsaturated and saturated fats – yep, all are good for you in various ways as well as being bad for in vast quantities – vegetables, fruit, dairy, carbohydrate in all it’s forms and water.

If you’re an especially big person, you need a LOT of food.  When I first joined Weight Watchers, the number of daily ProPoints I got to play with was a whapping 51.  That’s a lot of food to play with.  To put in perspective for you, a 36pp day (which is what I am on now) is a three Weetbix and milk breakfast (7pp), a baguette with ham, cheese, egg, mustard, salad (12pp), a fruit & nut bar (7pp) and dinner, say a bowl of tuna casserole worth 10pp. Add to that your recommended serves of fruit and vegetables which are points free and you have a crapload of food.  Imagine 51pp. Fuck me laughing. I was lucky to get to the high 40s most days when I initially started.

 

Yep, I’m spruiking Weight Watchers and the points thing again. NO, I am not being paid to do that.  I have tried EVERY single diet out there from shakes to subscription-based meal delivery to silly TV fad diets. (Anyone remember Kick Start? The Water Diet? The Cabbage Soup Diet? The Fruit Juice Fast?). Nothing worked. Of course I would lose some weight but then I would get bored, or hungry, or just be jacked off with the low quality of the food (do NOT believe those Lite & Easy ads, folks) and I would end up having huge binge-outs and gaining even more weight than I’d lost.

For the record, I am totally against shakes. They’re not good for you. It’s not food, it’s just a chemical compound mixed with water and a little flavour.  You don’t need that shit in your body.  Plus you’re starving yourself and that’s just fucked up.  I did that and got sick and gained back everything that I’d lost and twice that.  DON’T DO IT.

Don’t do anything that starves your body or messes with it’s functions.  That includes diet pills too.

Anyway, I digress…

Contrary to popular belief, chocolate will not hurt a diet, even if you have a little piece every day.  The trick is not eating the whole block, ya know?

EVERYTHING in moderation.  That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned with Weight Watchers.  You don’t have to deny yourself anything, you just need to be smart about it.  Pre-plan for the possibilities of not-so-smart food choices; this I need to do pretty much on a daily basis.

 

The most common thread amongst dieters that I’ve found is the moment that they start thinking of dieting as a system of restriction and denial, they fight against it.  God knows I did. I wanted all the stuff that I thought I wasn’t “allowed” to have.  The more I thought of it as “not allowed” the more I craved – and then I caved and bought a trolley full of shit and ate it… and then felt pathetically ashamed of myself and guilty as hell.

If you look at diets as a restriction you will not enjoy the process of losing weight.

Look at a diet not as a diet but as a guide for both portion sizes and meal content. Nothing is set in stone.  Don’t think of food as what you “can” and “can’t” have because ultimately, our favourite things fall into the “can’t” category. And that sucks.

Source: pinterest.com via Jack on Pinterest

 

Think of alternative recipes or options for favourite meals. If you like chicken burgers from KFC, try a chicken wrap from Nandos.  If you like macaroni and cheese, try a pasta bake that includes vegetables and flourless cheese sauce.   If you love pizza, try throwing one together yourself on a bit of pita bread. If you like to munch something during a movie, go and buy a big bag of grapes and eat those – this is something I’ve just started doing in lieu of popcorn and lollies and ice cream and it’s great.

It will take some practice and time, both of which require a hell of a lot of patience, but you WILL learn what balance works best for you.

You just need to keep at it.

Capsicum Egg Rings

Please don’t think I am stealing anyone’s thunder – I’ve had these photos sitting on my computer for a few weeks now.

Ever since I saw this:

Image from EnjoyYourCooking.com

… I knew I had to try it.

Because I love fried eggs.

Hell, I love any eggs.

Eggs are ambrosia to me.

And this idea was too cute not to try out.

So…

I did this:

Eggs with Bell Pepper/Capsicum Onion Rings - Renlish.com

Then I did this:

Eggs with Bell Pepper/Capsicum Onion Rings - Renlish.com

And ended up with this!

Eggs with Bell Pepper/Capsicum Onion Rings - Renlish.com

Comments about my dirty stove top will be STUDIOUSLY IGNORED.

(And for the Weight Watchers – the ProPoints value of this is 7pp. 6 for the eggs and 1 for the salad dressing.)