Getting active this April


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How are you feeling after Easter? Refreshed? Re-energised? Or a little tired, heavy and bloated? Even though the weather is unseasonably warm it is not uncommon to feel a little blah come April. Things are relatively quiet with school holidays about to start, Winter is on its way, the days are shorter and there are no holidays in the near future. So how do you get and keep motivated at this time of year? Easy – you get active! While it may be more natural to curl up, watch plenty of Netflix and cover our bodies up at this time of year, nothing good will come from this. On the other hand, if we put our hands and commit to a fit and active April you will be surprised how great you feel as we move into Winter. Hence the motivation for the Shape Me April Kickstart to focus on ‘Active April’. So if you know that you are not moving anywhere near as much as you need to ATM, here are some simple ways to get moving and get feeling great this April.

1. Team up with a few peeps

When activity becomes a social occasion we not only enjoy it more, but we are less likely to cancel and stay home in front of the TV. And having 1 friend join you is not enough, because lets be honest, peeps are unreliable. You need at least 2-3 different friends that you can schedule a weekly catch up over a walk, gym session, share a PT with or to train for an event. Once you schedule a few of these sessions you can tick the box on your activity most days of the week.

2. Just take more steps

In modern life working out once a day is not enough – we need to be moving at least 10000 steps a day as well as exercising so if you are not tracking your steps via a FitBit or your mobile phone (yes most mobiles have an inbuilt pedometer) get tracking and aim for at least 10000 every single day. 

3. Sign up for an event

There is nothing like a deadline to motivate you and with the running events like the Mothers Day Classic, Bridge Run, Bloody Long Walk and City2Surf still to come this year, you will be training for your own benefits and to help others.

4. Create a few rituals

At least once a month I have a group of friends who I train with on a Monday night and then we have a Meat Free Monday dinner – not only do we all look forward to catching up over some yummy food, but we end up fitting in an extra exercise session that week. So whether it is a regular brunch date, occasional dinner or big walk and brunch on a weekend, linking ti to something fun is an easy way to get more active and enjoy it. 

5. Use your commute wisely

Most of us have frantic schedules and as such need to use part of our commute or lunchtimes to get out and get active. Whether this means walking part of the way to work, getting to gym straight after work or at lunchtime or getting off the train or bus a stop or two earlier, the more you use your commute to clock up your steps, the easier it will be to reach your activity targets.

5 things to know about your diet if you are vegan


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The right way to go vegan

Plant based eating is hot right now. In fact, vegan products are one of the fastest growing ranges in supermarkets and since we know there are numerous health benefits associated with a plant based you may have been considering taking a plant based approach for your own diet. Or you may even be at the point in which you would like to try going vegan. Now while veganism does have its benefits, it can also change your intake of protein quite considerably, and as such it is not simply a matter of cutting out the meat and dairy from your diet. So if you have been considering a vegan approach, here is the right way to go vegan.

1. Learn your proteins

The average serve of meat, fish or chicken contains 20-30g of protein, compared to a cup of legumes or wholegrains just 8-15g. And then there is the issue of quality – animal based proteins contain the full range of amino acids, the form of proteins that are readily utilized in the body compared to some plant proteins which may only contain a limited number of these essential amino acids. It is for this reason that vegans need to make sure that each of their meals and snacks contains at least 1 protein rich food, but also that they are consuming complete proteins either via combining different types such as corn and beans together, or choosing complete plant based protein sources including quinoa, chia and buckwheat.

See my recipe for my Overnight Almond Chia Pudding below!

2. Check your calcium

Plant based milks including soy and almond milk are readily available in both supermarkets and cafes but it is important to remember that they can be much lower in protein and calcium than dairy based milks. For this reason always make sure you are choosing fortified varieties of plant milk that ideally contain both calcium and Vitamin B12 and keep in mind that nut based milks in particular are much lower in protein and calcium than dairy and even soy milk. Other vegan friendly sources of calcium include nuts and seeds, leafy greens and tofu.

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 1.44.13 PM3. Snack smart

When you are eating vegan it can be easy to grab a piece of fruit or hommus as quick and easy snacks on the run but these options are relatively low in protein and as such less likely to keep you full for more than an hour or so after eating. Ideally a nutritious and filling snack option will contain at least 5-10g of protein and vegan friendly options include the new Bounce Plant Power Range* that contain a massive 8-9g of complete protein, MUNCH snacks and Roasted FAV-VA Beans.

4. Get yourself a great plant protein

Pea and brown rice protein powder blends can be very handy in helping you to bump up the protein in some of your favourite dishes including smoothie bowls, protein balls and shakes and the blend of pea and rice protein will ensure your protein serve is a complete protein.

5. Explore vegan friendly meal options

While it is easy to eat salads, pasta and vege stir fries when you are vegan, don’t forget the growing range of vegan friendly meal replacements such as Quorn – not only do these help to expand your food variety when you are eating vegan but nutritionally they can be rich sources of nutrients and protein. 

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 1.09.02 PMOvernight Almond Chia Pudding

Serves 1

Ingredients

4 tsp. chia seeds

150ml unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

Drop of vanilla essence

Method

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, refrigerate overnight. Enjoy in the morning for a quick and nutritious breakfast.

*Susie is a brand ambassador for Bounce Foods. This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts and opinions are her own.

How to eat chocolate and not gain weight this Easter


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How to eat chocolate and not gain weight this Easter

Easter is my favourite time of year – there is not the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we have at least 3-4 days off in a row and of course you get to eat plenty of chocolate. And while Easter means plenty of celebratory feasting, it can also mean that we return to work after several days off a few kilos heavier – weight gain few of us need or want. So if you love indulging at Easter but would prefer not to return to work next week heavier, here are the easy ways to enjoy your Easter treats, minus the weight gain.

1. Go for quality over quantity

While there is plenty of chocolate of around, there is also plenty of chocolate that is not necessarily your favourite, or that you get maximal pleasure from eating. The key with being able to indulge in high calorie food and not overeat is to mindfully use your calories on foods that you get maximal pleasure from. This means if you love the little solid eggs, wait until Easter, then eat as many as you like but then get straight back on track with your diet the following day. Or if you love Lindt chocolate, devour a bunny on Easter Sunday but don’t waste your calories on little eggs all weekend. When you have permission to actually eat the type of chocolate you love, you will find you eat a whole lot less than when you are trying to constantly actively restrict your intake.

2. Sub in a meal

If chocolate is your thing, go for it, but most likely it means you do not need all your other meals as well. Often we eat the chocolate which may contain 600-1000 calories (in a bunny) and then keep eating all the other food on offer. If you want to eat chocolate, eat chocolate but chances are you do not need all the other buns, cakes and desserts as well.

3. Just move

Easter means that you have plenty of time to eat chocolate, but also plenty of time to move. Calories are far less of an issue when we are actively burning them off. Make the most of the holiday days and go for some long walks, factor in a run or gym session and simply work towards burning off some of the extra calories you have consumed.

4. Limit your chocolate to Easter Sunday

Even though Easter eggs have been available at supermarkets since Boxing Day, the truth is that Easter is one day. If you simply limit the bulk of chocolate consumption to Easter Sunday and get back on track with your diet on Monday, you will have no issue with weight gain.

5. Keep it out of sight

Much of our eating occurs because the food crosses our path – if you simply keep your chocolate out of sight, you will eta far less than if you keep it within easy reach at home. Then you will only look for it when you actually feel like it as opposed to the mindless munching most of us get roped into each and every day.  

When you will be dehydrated


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The times you are most likely to be dehydrated.

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Zip Water.

In busy lives there can be a big difference between knowing that we need to drink more water, and actually achieving this goal every day.  So if one of your goals is to focus on your hydration a little more, here are the times we are most likely to let ourselves become dehydrated and the steps to take to keep your focus on drinking enough.

When you are rushing around

When we are in our regular routine, we also get into certain habits which may include drinking water at certain times – starting the day with a cup of cooled boiled water, taking our water bottle to work and enjoying some sparkling water  with dinner. On the other hand, it is the times you are out of routine that you find yourself rushing around and not drinking anywhere near the amount of water you usually would. Avoid this scenario by always keeping a bottle of filtered still or sparkling water on hand with you, and check in with yourself at regular intervals to do a mental tally of how much water you have consumed so you know whether you need to actively seek out more. 

When you are training

For every hour of physical activity that we do, we will need at least an extra 500ml of water but this can be tricky, especially if you exercise first thing in the morning and choose coffee post workout over water; or if you are already starting your gym session dehydrated. To keep on top of your fluid intake when you are working out, a better mantra is to consume an extra 500ml of water in the hour or two before training as well as 500ml -1000ml during and immediately after the session. You will feel less fatigued and train more effectively if you are well hydrated before and during exercise. 

When you are travelling

Not only are we out of routine when we travel but if it is air travel we also have the dehydrating effects of being on a plane thanks to hours spent in low humidity. With long haul flights seeing us lose as much as 2litres of fluid, is it any wonder so many of us suffer the effects of jet lag. The fluid restrictions we may also encounter when travelling internationally too can impact how hydrated we are even before we step foot on a plane. For this reason, prior to any kind of plane travel you want to focus on drinking plenty of fluid the day of travel, and then carrying a bottle of water with you to drink prior to entering the boarding areas. Always take an extra bottle of water with you onto a plane to supplement the small serves generally offered and most importantly minimize the amount of alcohol you consume to help prevent further levels of dehydration. 

When you are drinking alcohol

In Australia many of us enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, or indulge in a few drinks with friends over the weekend but the regular consumption of alcohol will have a major impact on our hydration. As a general rule of thumb, ideally we will consume a glass of water for every alcoholic drink we enjoy. For this reason when you order a drink, get into the habit of also ordering a sparkling water as you will drink more when refreshing cool water is within easy reach. Most importantly, after any period of enjoying a few drinks, always prioritise drinking a large glass of filtered still or sparkling water before you hit the sack. 

When you are eating salty foods

Chips, snack food, pub meals and Asian and Indian cuisines are all exceptionally high in salt, and as salt attracts water away from the cells, the overall impact is dehydration in the body, which is why you can find yourself up at 1am seeking out fluid after a big salty Chinese meal. Keep on top of your hydration when you are eating more salt, by always teaming meals away from the home with water rather than soft drinks or juices and make it a priority to drink an extra 500ml of fluid after the meal. Better still go easy on the pizzas, soy sauce and Indian meals in general in favour of lower salt choices such as BBQ’s, grills and salads.  

Read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here.

My favourite snacks


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As a dietitian naturally I am pretty mindful of what I am eating and how often. While I do not generally snack throughout the morning, most afternoons about 3-4pm I find myself pretty hungry, especially if I am out and about with the twins. And since they are ALWAYS eating, it can be easily to get into the bad habit of mindless munching. For this reason I always pack myself a nutritionally balanced snack, and these are my favourite.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 7.44.11 AMCheese and crackers

Who does not love cheese and crackers and with mini snack packs available in supermarkets you can find the perfect portion of cheese and crackers to go. Generally I like Vita Weats as my cracker of choice and team 4-6 of them with a couple of slices of cheese. It doesn’t really matter which cheese you choose, by Jarlsberg Light is a good option. 

Goats cheese and tomato

When I am at home snacking, my go to is always Rye Cruskits (the twins love them too) with Meredith Valley Goats cheese and tomato or cucumber. I love this so much and did you know that goats cheese is lower in fat than most yellow cheeses?

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 7.44.42 AMBounce Coconut Macadamia Energy Ball*

There are a lot of different Bounce Balls but this one is my absolute fav. I always have one handy in my handbag and have to eat them secretly or I will have to share it with the twins. With almost 9g of protein and 7g of fibre per ball, this is the perfect filling snack on the run. 

Corn Thins and Mayver’s Nut Spread

I also love corn thins and when they are topped by Mayvers 100% Nut Spreads (which I love) they are so, so yummy you feel as if you are having a real treat.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 7.45.09 AMGreen pea hummus dip and vegetables

This homemade dip that comes from Shape Me, my online program, and is absolutely delicious and teams perfectly with chopped veges. 

For some more snack recipes, take a look at some of our additional Shape Me recipes here.

*Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Bounce, however this is not a sponsored post. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

How to slash your daily salt intake


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Helga’s Continental Bakehouse.

How to slash your daily salt intake

Do you know how much salt you are consuming each day? Did you know that some foods have up to double the maximum daily recommended intake of salt?

Salt is silent in many of our diets – it creeps into many of our favourite dishes without us even realising and consuming high amounts of it, over long periods of time, can cause damage to our bodies¹, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Recent research by the George Institute has shown Australian men are consuming almost twice the recommended intake of salt each day and women are not far behind¹. There are some popular foods you would find in most of our cupboards that are the main culprits that have contributed to this. So, during Salt Awareness Week this week, here are some easy ways to slash your salt intake each and every day.

1. Check your labels

It can be difficult to determine how much salt, or more specifically sodium we are eating simply because the nutrition labels we find on packaged foods are so tiny. We often also do not have a reference point to understand what a relatively high quantity of sodium is. The body actually needs some sodium in our diets to maintain fluid balance, so currently the daily limit of sodium for an adult is set at 2,000mg per day. This means that when checking labels, choosing food options that contain less than 400mg² sodium per serve is ideal to help keep our daily targets below 2,000mg.

2. Avoid the worst culprits

When it comes to the amount of salt we find in specific foods, there are some notorious offenders in the salt stakes – packet soups, pre-made meals, noodles, sauces and gravies and processed meats can contain as much as 1000mg of sodium in a single serve, which takes up a big portion of the daily recommended salt intake of 2,000mg. For this reason, seeking out specific low sodium varieties of sauces where possible, and seeking out soups that contain no added salt go a long way in slashing your daily salt intake.

3. Look for cooking stocks free from sodium

To help make low sodium cooking a whole lot easier, there are now a number of stocks available in supermarkets that do not contain any added salt. These products, although more expensive, mean that you have flavouring options that do not add loads of salt to your favourite soups, casseroles and risottos.

4. Get rid of the salt shaker

There is more than 2000mg of sodium in a single tablespoon of salt, which is why one of the easiest ways to cut your daily intake of salt is to get rid of the salt shaker. Adding extra salt, like adding sugar to our tea and coffee, becomes a habit over time and as our taste buds adapt to the salty taste of food, food with no added salt can taste flavourless. The same works in reverse, the less you have, the less you will want and the less often you see salt, the less frequently you will add it.

5. Be smart with your wraps

Sometimes foods we assume would be low in sodium are actually not. Some wraps, for example, contain more than double the sodium of other brands. Helga’s Wraps contain 40% less sodium than some other wraps on the market, including the market leading wrap, and as a result are a great lower sodium choice for lunch especially when served with low sodium fillings such as egg and avocado, chicken breast, roasted vegetables and hummus.

My delicious healthy nacho bowl recipe uses Helga’s Mixed Grain Wraps as the bowl and herbs and spiced instead of salt to add flavour – it’s so tasty and easy to create!

Healthy Nacho Bowl

Makes 4

Ingredients

4 Helga’s Mixed Grain Wraps

Olive oil cooking spray

3 corn cobs

1 large red capsicum, diced

½ Iceberg lettuce, shredded

½ cup Greek yoghurt

1 avocado, peeled and chopped

½ cup coriander leaves and lime wedges to serve, optional

Nacho filling

600g chicken breast fillet

1 tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp chilli flakes

4 tsp olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

400g can no added salt diced tomatoes

½ cup coriander leaves, chopped

400g can black beans, drained and rinsed well

Method

1. For the filling; preheat fan forced oven to 200°C. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with paprika and chilli flakes. Heat half the oil in a medium sized frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken. Cook for 3 minutes each side until golden. Transfer chicken to the oven and cook for a further 10-12 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes then shred.

2. Add remaining oil to the frying pan with the onion, cook for 3 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes, simmer for 3-5 minutes until it thickens. Add the coriander, chicken and black beans, cook for 5 minutes until warmed through.

3. Meanwhile, lightly spray Helga’s wrap with olive oil, press each into a 18cm (base) cake tin or arrange over upside-down heatproof bowls. Place on a tray and bake for 10 minutes until light golden. Cool for 1 minute then remove to a wire rack, repeat with remaining wraps.

4. Place the corn in a frying pan, cook for 4 minutes, rotating as they start to char on each side. Remove to a board and slice kernels from the cob.

5. To serve, spoon the chicken mixture into wrap bowl. Add the corn, capsicum and lettuce. Top with a dollop of yoghurt, avocado and coriander. Serve with lime wedges.

HELGAS-31-01-18-5898Fold-Over Roast Vegetable Pies

Makes 4

Ingredients

4 Helga’s Traditional White Wraps

1 red capsicum, cut into 2cm pieces

200g cauliflower, cut into small florets

1 (375g) eggplant, cut into 2cm pieces

1 red onion, cut into wedges

400g butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces

1 large carrot, cut into 3cm pieces

1 (260g) small sweet potato, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces

1 large (300g) beetroot, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces

2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

3 tbs olive oil

4 tbs passatta

300g fresh ricotta

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

Salad

60g baby rocket,

150g chopped cherry tomatoes

½ cup basil leaves

20g shaved parmesan

Extra virgin olive oil

Method

1. Preheat fan forced oven to 200°C. Combine capsicum, cauliflower, eggplant and onion in a lightly greased roasting pan. Combine the pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato and beetroot in another pan. Scatter garlic, cumin and coriander evening over both pans. Drizzle with olive oil, toss gently to coat all vegetables. Roast 45-50 minutes until tender.

2. Spread the passatta evenly over each Helga’s wrap. Top one half of each wrap with ricotta and add the vegetables. Brush edge of each wrap lightly with egg yolk, then fold the wrap over the filling to enclose vegetables and press edges together to seal.

3. Place the folded wrap onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush the top of the wrap lightly with the egg and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden.

4. Combine the salad ingredients together and serve with the pies.

¹https://www.georgeinstitute.org.au/media-releases/australian-salt-intake-twice-the-who-recommended-level

²https://www.georgeinstitute.org.au/media-releases/shoppers-warned-of-hidden-ingredient-salt

Diet or exercise? Which is more important for weight loss.


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What is more important for weight loss – diet or exercise?

This is one of the most common weight loss questions I get, and the answer like most specific questions about diet and weight is a little bit more complicated than a straight answer declaring one or the other more important. And while ultimately does come down to balance, this is also the right balance for you, which is where the different approaches work for different people.

Whenever the primary goal is to lose kilos on the scales as quickly as possible, food is generally more important than exercise, especially when you have more than 5kg to lose. The reason for this is that whenever calorie intake is dropped significantly, and adhered to, for example a couple of weeks following a strict 1200-1400 calorie plan, anyone with 5kg or more to lose will generally drop a couple of kilos relatively easily, with minimal exercise. This is because this is the lowest number of calories the body can function on, without following an intermittent fasting regime, or a ketogenic diet and strip the kilos. Adding extra exercise on a diet plan that is already heavily restricted will only act to slow weight loss for some as the discrepancy between calorie intake and output becomes too great eg burning 2000 calories but only taking in 1200.

Now this change once someone had lost anywhere between 5-10kgs. Once this amount of weight is lost following calorie restriction, weight loss often slows. This is because weight loss has resulted in the cells becoming more efficient and actually needing more calories. It may also mean, that as much extra fat has been easily lost before exercise will become more important in the equation to increase metabolic rate – by wither building muscle tissue, or by training it to work more efficiently. For this group, while calorie restriction may be still important, the restriction will be less, meaning dieters need 1400-1600 calories but also need to exercise regularly to continue weight loss.

The group of people for whom exercise will be important from the beginning of their weight loss journey are those who are particularly sedentary in their lives – office workers, call centre staff, drivers – those who routinely move less than 2000-3000 steps each day. In my experience no one will lose weight if they are moving this little and as such, these individuals will need to ramp up their movement to at least 10000 steps a day to achieve weight loss, even on a calorie restricted diet.

And then there are those of us who are already fit and have only a few kilos to lose. For those individuals it may actually be exercise that is more important, either the type or the volume may need to be adjusted to see results on the scales. For someone who already restricts calories and trains every day, they may actually need a break from such intense training to allow their body to drop some kilos. On the other hand, someone who only does cardio, may need a resistance or weight program to increase metabolic rate and see changes on the scales.

As you can see, there is not a one size fits all model. Rather most of us need to eat less, most of us need to move more and then there are those high achievers who may simply need to change things around to get the results they are looking for. Every one of us is different and as such, as they say, its complicated. 

Should you eat a banana every day?


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

Why you should eat a banana every day

A banana a day to keep the doctor away? Now that’s a simple diet to follow! When it comes to nutrient rich foods, there are generally a range of potential health benefits associated with eating these foods regularly. In the case of bananas, it is the rich potassium content of bananas in particular that is linked to a number of positive health outcomes, ranging from heart health to even our hearing. So here are just some of the reasons to grab a banana each time you leave the house to have on hand when hunger strikes.

For healthy blood pressure

With a massive 400mg of potassium in a single banana, or at least 10% of what we need in an entire day, high potassium foods like bananas help to regulate fluid balance in the body via its interaction with sodium. Diets high in potassium have been linked to lower blood pressure and as such a diet that features 7-10 serves of potassium rich fresh fruits and vegetables every day is recommended to help manage and reduce blood pressure. 

For a healthy heart

Not only is potassium a key mineral involved in muscle contraction, but research shows that individuals who have a high sodium-potassium ratio have a lower risk of development heart disease and a lower risk of stroke. Interestingly, potassium supplements are not linked to reduced risk, rather potassium consumed naturally via our diet. 

For healthy bones

With at least one million Aussies living with osteoporosis or brittle bones, consuming the key nutrients essential to bone health is crucial for all of us. Specifically, potassium plays a key role in neutralising some of the acids that can breakdown bone over time. As such, a diet high in potassium has been proven to help protect against osteoporosis. Magnesium which is also found in large amounts in a banana is closely linked to bone formation. A single banana contains almost half the daily recommended intake of magnesium. 

For optimal hearing

When we think of fresh foods we do not necessarily link their intake to basic bodily functions, such as hearing. However, the fluid in the inner ear, the part of the ear that translates noise into electrical impulses, which the brain then translates into sound, is dependent on a rich supply of potassium. For this reason, consuming potassium rich foods regularly is key to ensuring optimal hearing, especially as we age. 

For a happy tummy

So often we complain about having a dodgy tummy, or irritable bowel like symptoms, but sometimes bloating and irregularity can simply be a result of a diet lacking in crucial nutrients and enough fluid and movement. As potassium plays a key role in muscle contraction and our digestive system depends on this muscle contracting to move digested food through it efficiently, a high potassium diet is crucial for optimal digestive function, along with plenty of fluid to again help waste be quickly eliminated from the body. 

*Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

5 ways to improve your health at work


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Hands up if you are stuck in an office right now? Most likely you have been there since 8 and are not getting out of there anytime soon. You have already had a couple of coffees; you ate lunch at your desk and your pedometer is showing that you have walked just over 2000 steps today. Welcome to life as a typical office worker. You are not moving very much, you are eating way too much and your health, energy and weight are suffering as a result. What you need is The Office Diet Solution to get your office life organised so that it is more conducive to weight control, optimal energy levels and feeling at your best every single workday.

Here, are 5 ways to improve your health at work.

Prioritise movement

If you get up in the morning, get straight into the car or the train, walk the shortest way possible into the office and then repeat this on the way home, chances are you are walking less than 2000-3000 steps each day. Unless you are then spending two hours or more exercising, you are likely to be slowly gaining weight. The significant reduction in movement on a daily basis a result of long commutes, serous time limitations and extended working hours means that we are moving less than ever before and gaining lots of weight as a result. So if you have not done so already, get a pedometer or start to track your steps using a monitoring device. Basically the more you the better, ideally 8000-10000 steps per day minimum and if you have days in which your steps are notoriously low, it simply means you mean to make them up on other days and weekends.

Stand up more

In addition to the lack of general movement, the other significant factor driving office weight gain is the extended number of hours we spend sitting. More and more research is emerging to show how detrimental it is for our metabolic rate (how many calories we burn each day) and again long periods spent sitting cannot be undone by a trip to the gym or PT. If your job requires you to spend many hours sitting at a desk, it may be time to consider a standing desk such as Varidesk. Not only do you burn almost double the calories per hour standing than you do sitting can also be of benefit to your neck, hip and back long term.

Get away from the desk

Whether it is because you are too lazy to leave the office or because you are trying to cram as much as you can into the workday as possible, eating your meals and snacks in front of the computer is a recipe for disaster when it comes to weight control. Not only are we not mindful of what we are eating and more likely to overeat later when we eat in front of a screen, but it also means we feed into further inactivity and grab quick meals on the run which are not necessarily nutritionally balanced. Do yourself and your work a favour and take at least 10 minutes away from your desk at meal times to savour a proper meal, move a little and ideally get out of the office for some much needed Vitamin D.

Take lunch seriously

While breakfast is always talked about as the most important meal of the day, for office workers I would argue that lunch would go pretty close as being just as, if not more important. When we do not consume a well-balanced meal 4-5 hours at most after breakfast we leave ourselves vulnerable to low blood glucose levels and overeating later in the day. This means that a quick sushi roll or fruit salad just won’t cut it. Ideally we need some carbs, protein and veges or salad by 2pm at the very latest ideally enjoyed away from the desk. In fact, from a metabolic perspective it could be argued you are better to enjoy an early substantial lunch at 12pm and ditch the late morning snacks altogether. Even if you can only salvage half an hour, it is your lunch break so take it!

Keep away from the feeders

It maybe the baking queen who makes sweet treats every week but never indulges herself; it may be the fundraising chocolates, the unhealthy vending machine or a the biscuits supplied by the office but office environments are notorious for seeing us consume foods we never usually would simply as they are within easy reach and we are tired, bored and/or hungry. A general rule of thumb to avoid being a victim of tempting office treats is to remember it is work, not play and keep your treat calories for after hours; keep food well out of easy reach and get into the simple habit of saying no. Once you say no the first time, it gets a lot easier after that. 

Could your workplace be a healthier environment? Susie is available to speak on improving health in work environments as one of her corporate talks, The Office Diet Solution. For more information, to request Susie’s Speaking Pack or to contact Susie about speaking at your next event, click here.

6 simple swaps to reduce your salt intake


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This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Helga’s Continental Bakehouse.

Simple swaps to slash your sodium intake.

It is Salt Awareness Week! Do you know how much salt you are eating? Chances are, it is more than you think with new Australian data showing that Aussies are consuming 9.6 grams of salt per day, almost double the World Health Organisation’s maximum daily recommendation of 5 grams.  A high salt diet is linked to chronic health conditions so it is important to cut back on our daily salt intake. The good news is that once you know some of the worst offenders that contribute significant amounts of salt to our diet, it is also just as easy to swap them for lower salt options. 

Soy sauce for chilli sauce

With a single tablespoon of soy sauce, and similar Asian style cooking sauces containing a massive 1500mg of sodium or almost 4g of salt, if you love Asian style cuisine one of the best swaps you can make is to choose chilli sauce instead. Chilli sauce is delicious and it contains just 0.5g of salt. 

Regular wraps for Helga’s Wraps

Wraps are a popular food choice for adults and children alike but some wraps can contain as much as 3g of salt in single serve. A much better choice are Helga’s Traditional White wraps which contain less than 1g of salt per serve. A report by the University of Newcastle showed that swapping to Helga’s Traditional White Wraps, which contain 430mg sodium per 100g, reduce sodium intake by 40% compared with eating Mission Wraps Original which contain 790mg sodium per 100g. 

Ham for turkey breast

Processed meats are one of the worst offenders when it comes to bumping up Aussies’ salt intake, with a single slice of ham giving more than 1g of salt. If you enjoy meat on your sandwich or wrap, a lower salt option is to cook fresh chicken or turkey breast, which contain very little salt naturally. Or if you need to choose processed meat for convenience, look for the lower salt options available in some packaged varieties. 

2 minute noodles for hokkien noodles

A popular choice among teens and children alike, it is the little flavour sachet which gives 2-minute noodles the massive 5 plus grams of salt per packet! If noodles are your thing, look for flat rice noodles or hokkien options for stir fries and Asian meals and stick to plain crackers or popcorn rather than 2 minute noodles for snacks. 

Tinned soup for fresh soup

Tinned foods generally contain reasonably high amounts of added salt to help preserve the food but the good news is when it comes to soups that there is a growing number of tetra packs and fresh options from supermarkets that contain little to no added salt. Check ingredient lists and look for options that do not have salt listed to ensure you have found a lower salt soup. If you make your own soups, you can also find a growing range of salt free stocks in supermarkets. 

Smoked salmon for tinned salmon 

Smoked salmon is a rich source of omega 3 fats but it is also a very rich source of salt with a single serve containing close to 5g of salt. While tinned fish also contains salt, the amounts are much lower with a serve of tinned fish containing 1g of salt or even less for no added salt varieties.

Ready to try some healthy food swaps? Try my Thai salmon cakes and salad wraps recipe, using Helga’s Mixed Grain Wraps. 

Recipe: Thai salmon cakes and salad wraps

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 Helga’s Mixed Grain Wraps

1 red chilli, roughly chopped

1 green chilli, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled, roughly chopped

2 tbs shredded coconut

500g skinless pin boned fresh salmon, roughly chopped 

1 egg white 

1 tbs cornflour 

60g green beans, trimmed, thinly sliced 

1 cup coriander leaves, chopped

Olive oil spray

Sweet chilli sauce, lime wedges, to serve

Salad

1 carrot, cut into thin strips

2 Lebanese cucumber, cut into thin strips

2 cups shredded cabbage (red or green)

1 cup bean sprouts, trimmed

½ cup Thai basil or mint leaves

Method

1. Place chilli, garlic, ginger and coconut in a food processor, process until finely chopped. Add the salmon, pulse until finely chopped. Add the egg white and cornflour, pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the beans and coriander. Shape mixture into small cakes (about 2 tablespoons per cake) using wet hands. 

2. Preheat fan forced oven to 160°C. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Spray both sides of the salmon cakes with oil, cook in batches for 2 minutes on each side until golden, transfer to a baking tray. Bake for 3-5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and transfer to a tray.

3. Combine all the salad ingredients together. Place wraps onto a board. Top with salad and salmon cakes. Drizzle with a little sweet chilli sauce and a squeeze of lime. Roll the wrap to secure the filling. 

5 Monday morning habits to ensure a successful week


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Mondays: The way you begin your week, is the way you will live your week

At the start of the official working week, Mondays are the day when we get a fresh start. The time of the week when our good health and fitness intentions can be used to our advantage if and how we know the right way to implement healthy lifestyle changes and maintain them. A well organised and planned Monday can ultimately mean that 3 to 4 days of our week are on track and when you translate that into calorie intake, meal planning and exercise sessions, 3 to 4 good days ultimately means weight loss over the course of a week.

Unfortunately for many of us, Monday mornings start in a rushed and frazzled state, in which we are happy to have simply made it to work as opposed to starting the week fresh, organised and on track with your diet and weight loss goals. If you adhere to the mantra, ‘the way you start your day is the way you live your day’, there is much to be said for making a concerted effort to start each Monday on the right foot, especially when it comes to having your food and exercise plans ready to help you keep focused and make positive progress, especially if your goal is weight loss.

While starting Monday’s right will largely depend on how much time you have dedicated to getting organised over the weekend, if you consider that Mondays are an opportunity to reboot, recharge and kick-start your week after the weekend is a great way to take control of your diet again. There is some evidence to show that including low calorie food days as part of your overall calorie intake is a great way to give the metabolism boost and also a way to compensate when things have gone off track over the weekend. Knowing that Monday has been reserved for light foods and low calorie eating will help to get rid of the extra fluid and bloating that accompanies a weekend filled with alcohol and high fat, high salt foods. Eating lightly reminds us of how good we feel when we eat lightly and get back in touch with our hunger and satiety signals and it also helps us to drop the couple of kg that tend to be gained after a weekend filled with social engagements.

Learning to start Monday beautifully

There is more and more evidence to show that seeking out simple pleasures in our day to day lives is an important determinant of well-being. With so many of juggling so many balls and constantly working toward the big goals of houses, careers, children and even retirement, it can be easy to get so caught up in working and planning for the future that we forget to enjoy the here and now- taking the time on a daily and weekly basis to savour and thoroughly enjoy life’s simple pleasure such as eating, relaxing and enjoying the company of those important to us. This means being mindful and aware of the small aspects of each of our days that come together to determine how much we are enjoying our experience of living and how much we are simply getting through each day.

When it comes to starting a new week, this means that somehow we need to learn to love our Mondays and start them beautifully. It means sitting an enjoying breakfast; it means taking time out to plan the week ahead and outline what you are keen to achieve, it means being grateful that you are here at all to enjoy a brand new week, rather than cursing the very fact that yet another week is about to start. For some of us this may come naturally with a new week signally a new start but others may need to do some work to learn to appreciate Mondays rather than hate them.

Get up early

Successful people generally get up early and make the most of their time. They understand that all of us are generally playing a time game, with time being one of our precious resources that we simply cannot get back. If you consider that getting out of bed an hour earlier during the week days,w ill give you a an extra two whole days each year, imaging if you could get up even earlier.

Whether an early morning start helps to get extra chores completed, allows time for your to exercise or simply represents an hour or two when you enjoy some peace and quiet, the feeling of starting your day gently without rushing is a sure fire way to start your week in the right frame of mind.

Start off on the right foot

For many people looking to start the week right, this means starting with some exercise and there is no better way to kick start a Monday than with a brisk walk or run to kick start the metabolism and get you in the right frame of mind for eating well and maintaining your exercise program.

 One of the biggest issues when it comes to making a concerted effort to factor regular exercise into your lifestyle is the belief patterns that accompany the thought of regular training. Exercise does not need to mean numerous hours spent at the gym in an uncomfortable and sweaty state – it can simply mean walking to work or getting off the bus or train a stop earlier. Simply committing to small but regular exercise on a daily basis is often the difference between weight control or not.

Make your lists

Another Monday habit that is likely to serve you well over many years is to start each week with a clear, write to do list. Operating in the same way as goals help to direct and guide behaviour, writing a to do list helps to keep us on track with the bigger picture plans we have for ourselves and helps to keep our behaviours and choices on track especially during times in which it is easy to get distracted and also get to the end of week feeling as if we have not achieved anything. Get into the habit of sitting for 5 minutes each Monday morning and making a note of the key things you want to have achieved by the end of the week. You will be surprised how much easier it is to keep focused when you know what you are supposed to be concentrating on.

Put the kettle on

Another powerful Monday morning habit is to start the day with a cup of herbal tea. Not only does drink tea or even water help to rehydrate you but the simple habit of starting the day with the kettle on acts as a constant reminder of your commitment to health and well-being for the week ahead.

Easy ways to manage your stress each day


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This is a sponsored post.

Do you know anyone who is not stressed? The frantic pace of modern life coupled with the fact that most people spend the day battling the clock means that even getting out of the house each morning can be stressful. And the truth is that while we can dream of a stress free existence, the reality is that the stress is unlikely to go away anytime soon. As such, we have to get better at managing it if we are to feel and perform at our best. The good news is that there are a number of easy ways you can manage and reduce the stress in your life, with simple strategies like keeping well hydrated.

The close link between stress and dehydration is not frequently discussed but results from a recent trial commission by Zip Water clearly demonstrated the link. In this study, busy mums hosting the ever stressful kid’s birthday party had their markers of stress such as blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels measured when they were and were not dehydrated. The results clearly showed that the mum who took on the party well hydrated thanks to her trusty Zip HydroTap had lower blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels. What this basically means is that drinking enough water is the least we can do to help protect our bodies from stress –and who does not want to do that? Read more about the study here.

So if you are keen to take control and manage your day-to-day stress better in 2018, here are some simple steps you can take.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 6.17.10 PM1. Drink more water

With 70% of adults walking around dehydrated, and dehydration closely linked to an exaggerated experience of stress, drinking more water is the simplest thing you can do to help with day-to-day stress management. Always carry a water bottle with you, aim to drink at least 2 bottles of water each day and if you have not got one at work and home already, consider installing a Zip HydroTap to help all of your family and colleagues drink more instantly chilled, filtered water. 

2. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, at least 7-8hrs a night

This means no TV in the bedroom, no mobile phones next to the bed and ideally getting into bed by 11pm each night. Not only does hormonal regulation improve when you are getting the rest that you need, the more you sleep, the less likely you are to eat. 

3. Learn to meditate – even for just 5-10 minutes a day

Meditation is another proven psychological technique to help calm the mind, deepen breathing and gain perspective. If the idea of meditation completely freaks you out, start slow with just a 5-10 minute session to kick start your day. There are also some great mobile apps available so you can grab 5 minutes to meditate anywhere, anytime. 

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 10.24.27 AM4. Get out into nature without technology at least once each week

A proven psychological strategy to improve health and wellbeing is to escape the rush of modern life and be reunited with the wonder of nature. Whether it is a bush walk, swim in the ocean or drive to the country, you will feel reinvigorated as a result. 

5. Actively engage in a hobby you enjoy once each week

The rush of life means that we can easily forget how much we enjoy the simple things – a coffee at your favourite café or a new magazine. Start to bring more joy into your daily life by actively adding more simple things that you enjoy into your life on a daily basis. 

6. Make sure your Vitamin D is not low, and get some sunlight each day

Up to 25% of Australian adults have low Vitamin D, which can basically leave you feeling dreadful. If you have not been feeling at your best, have your Vitamin D levels checked at your GP and make a concerted effort to get out into the sunlight as often as you can. 

7. Get your heart rate up for 20 minutes each day through movement

The harder your heart beats, the more blood you have pumping around your body and the better you will feel, well, at least 20 minutes later anyway. Whether it is via exercise, walking or even dancing, getting your heart pumping is the most simple and natural antidepressant you can find.

Read how a Zip HydroTap® changed Susie’s life, here.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Zip. Read more about her partnership with Zip here.

5 ways to boost your energy levels


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Energy management

Hands up if you are feeling tired? Overwhelmed? Struggling to make it through each day? Unfortunately these feelings are pretty common in this day and age. We pack so much into our days and lives that we literally have nothing let at the end of each day and each week. We know that we are not feeling, looking or performing at our best, and we simply do not have the energy to do anything about it. You are not alone.

Energy is a simple yet exceptionally complex thing. On one hand it can simply refer to if we are able to get all the things done we need to and feel like we are physically capable of doing so. Yet it can also refer to complex metabolic pathways, the foods we choose to eat as well and then it can exist as a marker of our emotional health and how we self-regulate our behaviours. As such when we seek to regulate our energy levels more effectively, it is not as simple as grabbing an energy drink and pushing on, rather it is about creating a lifestyle that is conducive to optimal energy management. So if you are feeling like your energy regulation can do with some fine tuning, here are some simple steps to take to get back in control of your daily energy experience.

1. Set the platform with the right diet

It goes without saying that what we eat and drink each day has a powerful influence over our baseline energy levels. Poor glucose regulation impacts our attention and concentration, while weight gain, irregular meals and dehydration are just some of the nutritional factors that heavily impact our experience of energy each day. So if you do not have your own personal diet plan to follow that you know helps you to be at your best, it is time to invest in one so you have an idea of the best way you should be eating to also perform at your best.

2. Just move

Our inactive lifestyles create havoc for our metabolism and our overall health. Not only does inactivity mean that our cells become less efficient at burning calories, but it impacts our blood glucose control, leads to gradual weight gain and results in us feeling tired and sluggish a lot of the time. For this reason, the simplest prescription to improve your daily energy experience is to simply move – get up more, get a standing desk at work and stop with the excuses and commit to moving at least 10000 steps every single day. It is the least you need to be doing to maintain your body.

3. Be strict with your energy usage

Like time, humans are very good at wasting their precious energy on things that do not really matter – social media, relationships that do not have a lot of meaning, doing things we really do not want to be doing. Now in real life sometimes we do have to do things we don’t want to do (like go to work) but other things, like catching up with people we do not like, or going to events when we would rather be home conversing our energy are often tough decisions that make a big difference when it comes to our overall health and wellbeing.

4. Cut the screen time

Whenever we are watching TV and scrolling on Instagram or FB we are basically watching other people lives their lives. Now here is nothing wrong with this if you are happy with your own life. But when you are not feeling your best, or feeling tired and run down, these pastimes will not energise and inspire you, rather they will make you feel a whole lot worse about yourself and your life. For this reason, limiting screen time in favour of more meaningful interactions – a coffee with a friend, playing with the kids or reading a fab book are much better ways to help you find your natural energy.

5. Nourish your soul

When was the last time you did something when you felt like you were your best self? Chances are it was a while ago. Finding our own natural energy is also about reminding ourselves of who we really are, and when we feel and perform at our best. When you are regularly doing things you really love, you will find the rest of life becomes a whole lot easier as you have balance between responsibilities and enjoyment. This may be a massage once a week, or a trip to the beach each weekend. It may be a weekend away each month or a date night every week but carving out this regular time when you can feel your best is a key step in getting your life energy balance on track.  

Does your workplace need an energy reboot? Susie is available to speak about energy management as one of her corporate talk options. For more information, to request Susie’s Speaking Pack or to contact Susie about speaking at your next event, click here.

Eating for fullness


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This is a sponsored post.

We are often given information on eating for good health or for optimal energy and even about ways to lose weight, but far less often do we hear foods discussed in terms of their fullness factor. There are specific properties in particular foods that mean they are especially filling choices, not only are these foods great options when it comes to energy regulation and weight control, but for anyone who often feels unsatisfied after a meal, they are great options to base your diet around.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 5.02.21 AMBananas

Unlike some fruits which have a high water content, bananas combine the nutrition of natural carbohydrates along with plenty of fibre and texture which means that they are one of the top ranking foods when it comes to their fullness factor. Even better, team your banana with some Greek yoghurt and a few nuts for an extra filling meal or snack.

Potatoes

Poor old potatoes took a beating when the carb police came to power in dieting circles, but the reality is that it’s the way we consume most of our potatoes (think fried versions in general!) which is the issue. A humble potato contains just 20g of carbs, is a rich source of fibre and key nutrients, and studies have ranked potatoes at the top of the fullness factor index.

Oats

It is the low glycaemic index of oats and their high fibre content that makes them one of the most filling cereal choices around. Not only are oats nutrient powerhouses when it comes to general nutrition but they can be easily incorporated into many meals including baked goods and smoothies, or can be teamed with banana for a particularly filling breakfast option that will keep you going until lunchtime.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 4.05.27 PMEggs

With an extremely high nutrient content including high quality protein, Vitamin A, omega 3 fats and antioxidants, when teamed with vegetables and wholegrain bread, you have another meal that will last you for several hours. And remember, you do not have to limit your egg consumption to breakfast; they also make a great lunch addition to salads or sandwiches, or a quick and easy omelette for dinner.

Yoghurt

Yoghurt is naturally filling thanks to its high protein content and low GI, but even better are Greek yoghurt varieties in which their processing ensures their protein content is higher than regular yoghurt. If you find traditional yoghurt a little tough to handle, team it with a naturally sweet food like a banana to get all the health benefits with a little more flavour. 

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here

Does your diet need a kickstart this February?


Shape Me February Kickstart - Recipes 2

We all know that it can be tough to follow a diet – the demands of a busy schedule as well as regular social activities that feature food can make it almost impossible to follow any particular diet program for an extended period of time. It is for this reason that we have developed a new range of Shape Me plans that help you to kickstart your diet over just a 2 week period. Specifically this month our kickstart is focused on lunch – while we are often told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, in fact it can actually be lunch that determines your overall calorie load for the remainder of the day. So if you know that your diet needs some work, here are a few more reasons why there are some benefits in kickstarting our diet a focused 2 week period.

1. You can manage 2 weeks of focus

Often diets fail as they require us to be perfect all the time, which in modern life simply does not work. On the other hand, just 2 weeks of dietary focus is a short enough period of time to see some results on the scales while still allowing you to juggle your social demands and the eating that comes with that. 

iMacHomepage-large-v22. You will get some results

Research suggests that achieving initial weight loss success helps to predict long term weight loss, this means that seeing a drop of a kilo or two on the scales over a 2 week period is motivating in itself to keep going. The Shape Me Kickstart has been designed to help you drop a couple of kilos quickly, but doing it in the right way, via a calorie controlled plan that is packed full of fresh food. 

3. It will help to build strong habits

Long term weight control comes down to building some strong, sustainable lifestyle habits. The Shape Me Kickstart focuses on simple daily habits, such as packing a healthy lunch and preparing some healthy meals each week that are habits you can build and sustain long term.

4. You will feel better within a couple of days

Just a couple of days of nutrient rich eating is all you need to help you feel lighter and more energised. The Shape Me Kickstart is designed to boost your nutrition within a day or 2 of starting the program so you feel energised and motivated to keep eating well.

5. You can start at any time

Unlike a number of weight loss programs, the Shape Me Kickstarts are designed to be started at any time – this means you can follow them for 2 weeks straight or choose a few days at a time that fit in with your schedule. Flexibility is the key with any successful diet program and the Shape Me Kickstart offers maximal flexibility. 

Get started now with your Kickstart program by clicking here.

Losing the last 5kg


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Losing The Last 5kg CVR 3DDo you know anyone who would not like to drop 5kg?! Unlike larger amounts of weight, losing just a few kilos can actually be quite tough, and you often have to get quite specific with your macro-nutrients, calorie load, meal timing and exercise. The other important aspect is to allocate the time and focus to doing so – you will need at least 4 weeks of pretty focused eating to get some initial weight loss and then successive  1/2 – 1kg losses each week. So taking tips from the new edition of my book, Losing the Last 5kg, here are my best tips on how to get there!

It may come as a surprise to hear that it can actually be harder to lose a couple of kilos than it is to lose 20 or 30. Indeed this can explain why some people seem able to be able to lose multiple kilos quickly when they decide to lose weight, compared to those of us who always seem to struggle that that extra one or two. There are a number of reasons why weight loss becomes more difficult the smaller the amount of weight you want to lose. Firstly and most importantly if you only need to lose 3-5kg, it is likely that you are already eating well and exercising. To then lean up further, it will then require additional diet and exercise changes that help to increase metabolic rate and promote further fat loss. The second issue that is of particular relevance when you are looking to drop a couple of kg is that the body simply does not like to be lean, which means that sometimes we need to resort to various diet and exercise tricks that will help to boost fat burning in the quest to achieve the specific weight loss and body shape we are looking for.

Commit and follow through 

To set yourself up for sustainable fat loss, particularly when the desired weight loss is relatively small, you need to aim for a number of days each week of tightly controlled eating. Many people fail with their fat loss attempts as they let the little extras slip in on a daily basis; the couple of hundred calories from wine at dinner or from an extra row of chocolate are all it can take to complete derail your weight loss attempts. To commit to fat loss you need a period of at least of 5-6 days of tightly controlled eating to adequately deplete your fuel stores, effectively burn body fat and see that 1-2kg drop on the scales over a course of a week. 

Get organised

In order to eat well you need to have the food you need readily available – planning is the key to dietary success. Each week set aside some time to plan all of your weekday meals and snacks and then make time to visit the supermarket to stock up on all the foods that you need to ensure that you eat well. People who eat well are organised and keep the foods on hand that they need to keep on track with their diet, no matter what situation they find themselves in. If you are serious about losing body fat, your nutrition needs to become a priority for at least a month, which is also a perfect amount of time to lose 5kg.

Bump up the protein at breakfast

Protein is a super nutrient when it comes to weight loss as it is digested more slowly than carbs and hence helps to keep the hormonal systems that control our appetite and fat burning hormones well regulated. Aiming to consume 15-20g of protein at breakfast via a couple of eggs, a protein shake, some baked beans or some thick natural yogurt will help to kick start metabolic rate for the day, and keep us full and satisfied for at least 3-4 hours so that we are less tempted by high fat treats and snacks throughout the morning.

Eat more vegetables

Once you aim to include vegetables and salad at every meal and snack, whether this is via some mushrooms and tomatoes in your morning omelette, a large salad at lunch and some vegetable soup for dinner, you are kept so nicely full that you eat far less of the other calorie containing foods. Aim for at least 2-3 cups of vegetables or salad at lunch and dinner as well as snacking on some vegetables throughout the day.

Watch the liquid calories

It does not matter whether the calories come from wine, juice, coffee or a smoothie, the body does not compensate well when we consume liquid calories. This means that we do not adjust our food intake to eat less when we drink fluids other than water or clear tea. For many of us, our daily coffee habit, or a couple of wines with dinner are habits that have gradually crept into our lives, along with an extra couple of kg. Take a break from your milk coffee, alcohol and extra juices and swap to water or herbal tea and you are likely to see a drop in weight as well.

Change things around

If you only have 5kg to lose, chances are you are already exercising regularly, but it may also be time to change your workout around a little. The body gets used to exercising in a certain way, just as it gets used to eating a certain way very quickly. For this reason, altering your workout type, timing and intensity is often all you need to do to kick-start fat burning again when things have been stable. Choose a different type of gym class, start training intervals rather than sitting on the treadmill or bike at the same speed or go to the gym at a different time of the day to mix things up a little and challenge the metabolism.

Top 10 tips for losing 5kgs

1. Make breakfast your largest meal of the day.

2. Drink a green tea after each meal.

3. Make sure that your dinner and lunch include half a plate of salad or vegetables.

4. Go alcohol free for at least 5 days each week.

5. Drink tea and coffee with meals only.

6. Take the edge of your hunger on the way home from work with a filling snack such as apple, carrot or nuts.

7. Move your body for an hour each day.

8. Keep your dinner small, with salad, soup, vegetables and a small piece of meat.

9. Have a meal off your diet each week.

10. Get lots of sleep, at least 9 hours each night.

In the new addition of my book, Losing the Last 5kg learn all the latest tricks and tips on ways to drop that frustrating last 5kg for good. Purchase your copy through Booktopia or Amazon.

How to make the perfect smoothie


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This is a sponsored post.

If there was one type of drink that was synonymous with summer, a delicious fruit smoothie would have to go close to being the top pick. Not only does a colourful fruit and vegie based smoothie provide the perfect vibrant image for social media, but with the right mix of ingredients it can be a nutritious, filling breakfast option. So here are the most important steps to take to blend the perfect smoothie every time you feel like getting your smoothie on.

1. Protein for fullness

Your preference may be skim milk, Greek yoghurt or protein powder, but basing your smoothie around a protein rich ingredient that offers at least 10g of protein per serve will ensure that you stay full throughout the morning. Greek yoghurt is a particularly good choice as it contains close to 20g of protein per serve with minimal sugar, while if your preference is to go dairy free, a vegan rice or pea based protein powder is your best bet. It’s important to be mindful that almond milk is particularly low in protein while coconut yoghurt is low in protein and high in fat.

2. Fresh fruit for fibre

Not only will fruit add plenty of nutrients to your smoothie but fresh fruits including bananas, berries, kiwi fruit and mango will add much more fibre and natural sweetness. It is also easy to keep fruits like banana in the freezer so that you don’t have to worry about always having fresh fruit on hand, and blending frozen fruit gives a delicious taste and texture to any cool drink.

3. Some vegetables for extra nutrition

For anyone who needs to eat more fresh produce (all of us), the great thing about breakfast smoothies is that you can actually add in a serve or two of nutrient rich vegetables and you will not even notice. Think spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, carrots – they all blend well and the sweetness of the smoothie will naturally reduce any of the bitterness uncooked vegetables may add. 

4. Serve of good fats

The perfect smoothie mix is made up of a serve of good fats – some avocado, chia, nuts or seeds will add taste, texture and crunch to your favourite smoothie and keeping these portion controlled is key to keeping the calories controlled. About one third avocado, a tablespoon of seeds or 8-10 nuts is the perfect serving size for these additions. 

Here is a recipe for one of my favourite smoothies

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 9.48.27 PMSunshine smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients

Handful of kale

1 small banana

½ cup mixed berries

1 cup of any type of milk

1 tbsp. chia seeds

Method

1. Blend all ingredients together and top with chia seeds.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here

What breakfast do you do?


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Long gone are the days when a family would sit down together bright and early to enjoy their cornflakes together. Rather the breakfast occasion is likely to be rushed, varied and often lacking the nutritional balance we need to keep us optimally fuelled throughout the morning. What we eat at breakfast nowadays largely depends on where we are when we are eating our breakfast. So, once you identify what is your general breakfast style, it is easy to identify ways to improve the nutritional profile of what you are eating.

On the run

Despite the best of intentions, there are few of us who manage to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before we leave the house each morning. Instead we are often fighting the alarm and lucky to grab a slice of toast before running out the door. If breakfast always seems to be consumed in a rush at your house, the key is to know your quick and easy options that also contain protein, as protein rich foods will help to keep you fuller for longer after eating them. Some options include a tub of Greek yoghurt, a small tin of baked beans or if you have an extra minute or two, a toasted sandwich with ham, cheese and tomato.

Daily café treat

Just as a daily stop at the local coffee shop or café has become a ritual for many, so too has picking up a quick breakfast deal whether this be banana bread, a muffin or Turkish toast with peanut butter, Unfortunately, many of the popular breakfast choices typically found at cafes are high in carbs and calories and lacking in protein. The result is general overeating that will also leave you vulnerable to hunger and cravings mid-morning. So, if you are a café regular, keep in mind that a small milk based coffee is equivalent to at least 1/3 of your breakfast and a slice of toast with avocado or cheese is likely all you need to complete your breakfast. Better still a small breakfast wrap, omelette or an egg with a single slice of toast will offer you a good balance of carbs and nutrient rich proteins.

At work

One of the biggest issues with waiting until you get to work to eat breakfast is that it means breakfast may not be until after 9am. After the overnight fast, one of the best things you can do is eat the first meal of the day as early as possible to help give the metabolism a boost and kick start calorie burning. So, if a breakfast at your desk is not likely to occur until after 9am, try starting the day with half a breakfast at home, such as a milk coffee or a slice of toast with cheese or nut spread, and follow it up with another small second breakfast at 9 or 10am of another slice of toast, a small serve of cereal or some Greek yoghurt and fruit.

Post gym

If you have an early morning workout scheduled that is less than 40 minutes duration or before 7am, you may not need to eat anything before your session. On the other hand, if you are committed to intense X-Fit or personal training you may find that you can train more effectively with a small amount of fuel on board before your session, as you will burn body fat more efficiently with a small amount of carbohydrate present. Good choices include a piece of fruit, a couple of crackers and a slice of cheese or a small energy bar. Once you complete your workout, protein and slowly digested carbs are your best breakfast choices. A toasted sandwich, omelette with a coffee, smoothie with protein powder, milk and fruit or a Bircher muesli with Greek yoghurt are all good choices.

How to stop eating too much


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It’s one of the main reasons that people can’t lose weight and one of the most difficult habits to rein in – overeating.

We eat more than we need to for many reasons – boredom; access to large volumes of tasty food and not having the ability to identify real hunger.

If we overate only on special occasions and celebrations it would not be an issue.

But far too many of us overeat on a daily basis thanks to easy access to food, routinely large serving sizes and more concentrated food tastes and textures which appear to stimulate the brain to seek our more and more food. So, if you regularly go to bed bursting with food, or have had to undo your pants button after eating too much again, it may be time to take a closer look at what’s going on.

Comfort eating

Overeating is strongly linked to our mood. Sadness, frustration, anger or any unresolved emotion can see us turn to food for comfort. We can learn this behavioural response from parents or carers who offer food, usually sweet foods, to soothe crying babies, injured infants or hurt teens. Or it can be self-taught as we seek out this sensation of pleasure of eating to ease emotional pain. Unfortunately the food only fills the emotional void temporarily, so the habit of overeating can continue for years.

While it is useful to understand why overeating may occur, much more useful are the behavioural strategies to help manage and take control of overeating, in a number of different scenarios.

Mindless Eating

Behavioural research from the journal Appetite has shown dieters who consumed lunch while watching television consumed significantly more calories at their next meal. The reason? Failing to be present and mindful about what they has eaten at lunch. Keep present at meal times and give your full attention to your meal. Not only are you likely to savour and enjoy what you are eating more, but research would suggest you will also eat less.

Know your high risk situations

Identify the times when you are most likely to overeat. Is it socially? In the office? Or when you get home at night time? Once you’ve done this, you can develop strategies to manage these times. The simple act of going for a walk when experiencing a chocolate craving has been shown to significantly reduce cravings. Whilst standing away from the buffet or biscuit jar has been shown to significantly reduce mindless eating.

Consider the ease of eating

Sweet drinks, soft textures that require minimal amounts of chewing and energy dense foods such as chocolate, potato chips and snack foods are consumed very quickly yet can fail to trigger the satiation that more bulky foods that require much more effort to eat such as salads, meat and even dense chewy breads do. Make a concerted effort to ditch the soft white breads and cakes, noodles and rice and any type of sugar based drink and focus on good quality meals and snacks that take time to eat.

Learn to feel hungry

When was the last time you felt really, truly hungry? For many of us, it’s not a familiar feeling as we snack all day. Learn to quantify your hunger levels out of 10, and aim to only eat when you are up at 8 or 9.

Eat until you’re not quite full

Pay closer attention to the point in which you actually start to feel full. In general, it is a mouthful or two prior to the actual ‘full’ feeling. Serve yourself less at meals than you usually would and then prolong the eating occasion by chewing each mouthful slowly and placing your knife and fork down in between mouthfuls. This process of not eating until you feel ‘stuffed’ is crucial. And it is important – research again published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that slow eaters consumed significantly fewer calories and drank more water at a meal simply than eaters who routinely consumed their meals quickly.

Get familiar with portion sizes

Whether you start to track your calorie intake using a monitoring system, or start to measure and weigh your foods for a period to learn what a normal portion is, keeping a close eye on volumes is crucial as most people will eat what is served as opposed to what they are hungry for. A dietitian can help you to identify the right portion sizes for you based on your dietary goals, age, exercise level and gender.

Remove temptation

If packets of biscuits and blocks of chocolate are kept at home, you will eat them. It’s as simple as that – especially if you are bored, tired or emotional.

And when celebratory cakes and slices that colleagues bring to work are waved under your nose regularly, it’s hard to resist.  

You’ll need to speak to family members, colleagues and other ‘feeders’ to ensure you have their support in keeping these indulgence foods out of your way.

Learn to compensate

It’s no use wallowing in guilt when you do demolish three pieces of chocolate cake. That leads to the mentality of “well I may as well have a fourth”. Instead, learn to compensate for overeating. A day of simple salad and soups and some extra exercise will not only help you to feel physically better when you have overeaten but it will help teach you to balance your intake with your output.

How I spend less at the supermarket


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When I was younger, I didn’t pay much attention at all to how much I spent at the supermarket. I would only purchase mainstream brands; bought whatever I liked and never worried about what was on sale. Fast-forward 10 years; 2 kids and a mortgage and now more than ever before I am exceptionally mindful about how much I am spending; I intentionally shop looking for the cheapest options and am finding I am spending less than I ever have at the supermarket. So how do I do it and still keep my nutrition on track? It is so easy.

1. Go to the supermarket less often

Each and every time you ‘duck’ into the supermarket you are guaranteed to spend at least $50 if not $100. It is the same as keeping food at home – if it is there, you will eat it and if you go to the supermarket you will see appealing options and buy more than you need. For this reason I go to Aldi once a fortnight and stock up on all the crucial supplies – toilet paper, nappies, wipes, cleaning products, frozen vegetables (a frozen vegetable is a frozen vegetable), baking products and long life milk. This shop rarely costs me more than $100. I then try and go to your local supermarket just once or twice each week to purchase anything else we need like the products Aldi do not stock, a couple of serves of fish, meat or chicken depending on what we are cooking and fresh fruit for the twins.

2. Get to the markets

Each week my Dad goes to the markets for the family. Now he is retired BUT you save so much money on fresh vegetables that I would now make time to go even if he couldn’t. For $20 a week I pick up a whole pumpkin, several zucchinis, sweet potato, spinach and tomatoes and that is more than enough fresh veges for the entire week! $20 I am serious. Get out there or form a coop and take turns going. You will save a fortune.

3. Cook less but make more

In busy lives who has time to cook every night. Generally speaking I cook 2-3 times each week but make a big serve of lean mince or various pies that work as leftovers and lunches a couple of times each week. The other nights I simply make a quick fish or cutlets with vegetables. Quick and easy and mince and pie dishes are extremely cost effective.

4. Make your lists

When I do find myself at the supermarket I generally spend 5-10 minutes in there, quickly racing for the products I am looking for. Perusing means buying more, and generally more foods we do not need. In stating that I do buy treats, a packet of chips here and there, sometimes biscuits but these are one off purchases, never routine buys that push the bill up and when I do buy them, they are always on sale eg ½ price biscuits or chocolate.

5. Forget the name brands

As a dietitian I am fussy with certain brands – I prefer the best types of bread, cereal, condiments but when it comes to foods like cheese, or milk or oats or flour, I never waste money on the name brands because I know the actual product is the same just in different packaging. Why spend $3.00 on peas when you can spend $1 or $5 on oats when you can $1? There is a coffee paid for right there in savings!