It’s not that I’m one of those lucky skinny bitches with an irritatingly fast metabolic rate who end up slimmer than before they had babies; I’m just fundamentally too lazy to be arsed.
I also REALLY like food.
I honestly believe that a little extra meat on your bones looks a damn sight healthier than the skeletal look as you age.
Having said that, I admit that I am a good (ahem!) 20kg heavier than I was on my wedding day and I don’t really want to get any heavier, so to maintain this new (just about acceptable) middle aged weight, I’ve had to make some radical adjustments to my lifestyle.
Working my ass off in whatever my latest fad exercise is
Walking the dog when I can be bothered or she makes me feel guilty enough
The problem with all those commercial ‘diets’ with controlled eating plans, those ‘questionably thick’ shakes, putrid soups or just lemon juice (WTF), is that they don’t allow for you having a life, and although they might bring results in the short term, maintaining that new weight proves difficult once you get off the diet treadmill.
Scientists have proven that once you reach middle age (just when your comfort-eating skills have maximised), your body doesn’t need the same amount of calories as it did before – it also takes malicious pleasure in depositing the surplus.
I am a strong advocate of ‘The Replacing Food With Wine Diet.’
You see, the biggest problem I have with watching my weight is that I am an alcoholic.
The fact is, that I enjoy a glass or two of wine in the evening so much, that I am happy to sacrifice food for it.
And there’s nothing controversial in that statement – even Weightwatchers allow you to drink wine if you save the points elsewhere. If you need any more justification, wine is apparently now beneficial for heart health (well, this week anyway).
There’s actually no massive secret to maintaining a healthy weight when you reach middle age, but it does involve hard work and discipline in the form of exercise and a calorie-controlled diet.
Deciding what those calories will be is the fun part.
Here’s an example of my typical day (give or take a few hundred calories):
Bowl of cereal or scrambled eggs on toast, juice and coffee
Reward Time For Being So Inhumanely Stoic (Orgasm Time)
1-2 glasses of wine and a few squares of the darkest, sexiest chocolate I can find.
This diet seems to work for me – at the moment. I probably consume in the region of 1500 to 1700 calories per day, but I do try to exercise at least three times a week. I know the recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes per day but P.L.E.A.S.E!
My diet is noticeably low in fat/cholesterol due to a genetic cholesterol issue, but sometimes if I’m feeling really crazy, I might sneak in a yoghurt or smoothie instead of fruit.
I’m not what you’d call slim, but my weight hasn’t really changed over the last three years, and with menopause looming, I realise that my diet plan will need revising at some point – I may then be forced to cut out food altogether.
Rest assured, I am no saint and at the weekends I love to ‘eat all the pies’ as much as the next person. But I do make informed choices. If I do have a big meal out, I’ll try and cut back the next day and I always endeavour to opt for Asian food (except Chinese) which is usually less fatty. (Actually that’s a blatant lie – my penchant for Creme Brulee, may go some way to explaining my Rubenesque hips).
But the best thing about The Replacing Food With Wine Diet is that you always feel content because you’re pissed full all the time.
Ahem! As an unofficial ambassador (as in VERY unofficial) for the Australian Heart Foundation, I have been reliably informed that some of you still find eating healthily (I quote) ‘boring’ and are naively putting your lives at risk.
To be honest, I used to think that I was too young and awesome to worry about eating healthily too, and I certainly didn’t worry about a minor thing like my own mortality. That is, until I was given a very valid reason for changing my lifestyle.
Heart disease became a personal and very real issue for me when my family discovered that we had inherited a condition called Familial Hypercholesterolaemia on my mother’s side, that led to a heinous trail of human destruction in our family.
The effects of heart disease can be devastating. Take it from someone who knows.
Hyperchol….what, I hear you ask?
Don’t worry, even I am a little sketchy on the science behind it. But what I do know about Hypercholesterolaemia is that it is a f*cking scary condition, which if left undiagnosed and untreated, can be a killer. It is one of the reasons some people have seriously high levels of the really bad cholesterol (LDLs) in their blood, which can lead to furring of the arteries, blood clots and premature heart attack.
Fortunately these days the condition is not a death sentence and there are treatments available. These may start with lifestyle changes such as a low cholesterol diet and exercise, or medication such as Statins may be prescribed.
But thirty years ago, very little was known about Hypercholesterolaemia and heart disease, which is why heart disease became particularly personal to me when it killed my mother, her brother and her sister before they reached the age of forty.
Heart disease is that kind of f*cking serious.
You might think that an unthinkable event such as the premature loss of a parent when you’re a teenager might actually stop you from stuffing your face with as many cream cakes as you can fit in your gob and smoking your lungs out. Unfortunately not. You see, I was young, hedonistic, had a real reason to be f*cked off with the world, and I was convinced I was going to die young anyway…..
As you know, I am still here.
My seminal moment regarding the state of my health, (and the realisation that I am not unfortunately a Cullen), kicked in the day that my first child was born, when I realised that I really wanted to see her grow up.
I realised that I wanted to live as long as I could.
By that time I had the diet side of things pretty much under control. I was eating healthily. Some of the wisdom of the army of specialists I saw must have infiltrated my conscience somewhere, because I can’t remember ever not drinking skimmed milk or not eating margarine instead of butter and I had always passed on cream and fatty meat.
But admittedly it took me longer to cut out the cigarettes – something I truly regret now when I look at my children. I can’t imagine that any of you are smokers anyway – filthy habit that it is – and just SO eighties!
Luckily, I’ve found out that it’s never too late to change your lifestyle. And the research that the Heart Foundation has carried out, backs this up.
A lot of you probably still eat too much ‘unhealthy’ food without realizing it, like I did. Which is why, when the Heart Foundation approached me to write this post about heart disease, I was super keen.
They’re clever, those people at the Heart Foundation. They invited me to share an evening with them to discuss heart disease and how they can best educate women to eat healthily. They obviously had no idea who they were dealing with when they invited me. I mean, how could they have possibly known that I would have at my disposal this perfect, god-awful, shocking family-history story to preach to you about, which was bound to appeal to your morbid fascination if nothing else?
To be honest, I would have written the piece without the informative cooking lesson and naughty glass of wine they plied me with to accompany it.
But here is the important stuff that your need to know – the six fundamental ways you can prevent heart disease and live longer:
Eat Healthily – Choose plant-based foods, wholegrain cereal foods, moderate amounts of lean unprocessed meat, oily fish and foods with low or reduced salt content
Be Physically Active – the Heart Foundation recommends that you try to include at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical exercise, ideally each day of the week. A brisk walk with the dog does count.
Manage Your Blood Pressure – Have regular blood pressure checks. Did you know that every adult in Australia is entitled to a free medical at the age of 45 where your cholesterol and blood pressure will be checked?
Maintain A Healthy Body Weight – if you eat healthily and enjoy healthy eating, this won’t be a problem.
Maintain Your Psychological And Social Health – people who are more prone to depression, or are socially isolated or do not have quality social support are at greater risk of developing heart disease. Depression can be treated, so if you think you are at risk, speak to your health professional and seek help.
Heart disease is the number one killer of Australian women. It kills more than three times as many women as breast cancer and eating healthily is one of the ways you can prevent yourself from becoming another statistic.
But in case I was still sceptical, (as if, after a glass of wine!), the Heart Foundation also educated me in how to make some deliciously easy, healthy recipes too.
Did you know that fine slices of lean beef with a rich pesto and olive tapenade, crisp Vietnamese spring rolls with herbs and vegetables, succulent stuffed chicken breasts with spinach, mozzarella and roasted peppers and an orgasmic red wine fruit jelly are all recipes that were easy enough for EVEN me to create; and they’re healthy too?
So to encourage you to start eating healthily from today, here is my FREE (yes, I did say FREE) giveaway of three fabulously heart-healthy recipes shown to me by the Heart Foundation with my own stunningly professional photography thrown in.
Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
Rice paper wrappers
Cooked vermicelli noodles
Mint and coriander leaves
Snow pea sprouts
Heat some water in a pan. Dip one wrapper into the water for a second to soften. Lay the wrapper on the bench and start filling with your selected ingredients. Place the filling in the centre, leaving about 5cm of the wrapper uncovered on each side. Fold in the uncovered sides of the wrapper and tightly roll to enclose the filling.
Rolled Chicken Breast
1 Chicken breast per person
Choice of fillings –
Reduced fat ricotta.
Slice a long slice through the side of each chicken breast, not all the way through. Open the breast out and if need be slice a further pocket to allow for even rolling. Place filling down the middle of the breast. Lay a piece of foil on the bench followed by a piece of glad wrap over the top. Sprinkle some mixed spices (smoked paprika, basil and pepper) and the grated peel of a lime onto the glad wrap. Place breast with filling onto the spices to coat outside, then roll chicken breast up tightly, securing both ends of glad wrap tightly. Do the same with the foil, securing both ends tightly and cook in a pot of water, just under simmering point for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from water and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Remove chicken from foil and serve.
Red Wine Fruit Jelly
800ml Red Wine
3 Star Anise
1 Vanilla pod
1 Cinnamon stick
Pulp of 4 Passionfruit
1 Mango cubed
1 Punnet strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
3 Sheets of gelatin
Small individual jelly moulds or decorative glasses of your choice.
Soak gelatine in cold water until it is soft, squeeze off any excess liquid. Bring red wine, star anise, vanilla pod, cinnamon, honey and passionfruit to the boil in a small saucepan. Once boiled, strain. All mixture to sit for 1 hour. Then return liquid to the pot and bring to the boil. Remove from heat. Add gelatine to the pot and whisk into the mixture. Add mixed fruit to your moulds. Pour jelly liquid over the fruit. Place in the fridge to set.
I know that after reading this post you’re all going to change your lifestyle immediately and start eating healthily and exercising like Olympians, but just in case any of you think you might be having a heart attack BEFORE you get the chance to buy your new runners, and are too embarrassed that your symptoms might be a false alarm, it is my duty as an (unofficial) ambassador of the Heart Foundation to give you some tips about the warning signs of a heart attack. (And did I mention that this information is FREE too? Because we’re like that at the Heart Foundation).
Heart attack warning signs may include the following: pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in one or more parts of the upper body (chest, neck, jaw, arm(s), shoulder(s) or back) in combination with other symptoms of nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness or a cold sweat. For more information, visit http://www.heartattackfacts.org.au.
My work here is done. Happy healthy eating and let me know how you go.