Author: Serena Nathan

Serena Nathan is the savvy writer behind Savvy Content with a long history of broadcasting, marketing, editing, writing and communications writing.
Keeping It Off

Keeping It Off

Not another diet article, you say? I know…it’s become so boring, we are so over-informed, over-fed and under-nourished these days.

For the past year and a quarter I have been seeing a doctor who specialises in bariatric (read: fat) medicine. I wrote about this earlier this year and so far on my own journey the weight (about 13 kilograms) has stayed off for a year. It may not always but it’s where I am for now. I just want to tell you what I found out. If like me you’re an old yo-yo dieter trying to keep the weight off and you’re finding it tough, this might help.

If you’ve been at your goal weight for years (or forever) you have it sorted: perhaps read this instead.

loving earth fudge brownies

It isn’t really important how you take off excess fat. What matters is that, as you age, you do. Of all the health problems associated with being overweight, one that puts a firecracker up the proverbial in my age group is the knowledge that excess fat is ageing.

A sensible friend pointed out tonight that there are many roads that can get you there. Some have had fabulous success with the 5/2 Fast Diet. Others swear by going Paleo, others Vegetarian. They are all very different approaches and once you find something that agrees with your body and you can stick it out, hooray.

I never had a problem until I left school and spent a year in Idaho wondering why my clothes seemed to be shrinking so much. Thirty years later I am armed with tools and working at it. Recently I attended a sort of exit seminar in which Dr Rensburg talked about keeping weight off and it was really useful information.

First a quick look at the basics of getting it off:

  1. It’s normal to feel hungry. We should feel genuinely hungry at least once a day.
  2. You’re supposed to feel uncomfortable when you’re hungry, otherwise you’d starve to death: It’s your body telling you to refuel.
  3. Generally we all in the western world eat far too much. Eat much less.
  4. Some people are excellent at storing fat – they once kept the species going. It sucks in this day and age and culture but there it is. You’re either a polar bear or a hummingbird and if you’re a polar bear you just have to eat more sparingly than those who seem to eat constantly and never gain weight (the hummingbirds).
  5. Make what you do eat count. Look up ‘nutrient density’; put down the two-minute noodles.
  6. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You’re a grownup.
  7. Weigh yourself each morning (I know this one causes people to react with horror). This way you don’t need to count calories ever; the scales do it for you. Up a bit eat less, down a bit eat more.

Maintaining is a bitch for we polar bear types. This is why the scales can be your friend; your calorie counter (because we know there is nothing more depressing than actually counting calories). A lot of people say do not use bathroom scales. I say use them in the morning before you eat to get an idea of where you’re at and how you’re doing. If you’re getting on more than once a day, you’re obsessing: stop that.

Here are a few ideas I picked out from the recent talk.

  1. Expand your discomfort zone: We all live within a comfort zone but in order for it to feel really comfy you have to step out from time to time to appreciate it. If you always feel full, you’ll hate even a tiny bit of hunger.
  2. Sometimes choose foods you don’t like so much. You’re less likely to go hammer and tongs and go back for seconds.
  3. Help with fatty acid release by taking cold showers (but they can’t be hot then cold; just all cold). This is harder than it sounds.
  4. Eat less.
  5. Go for a paleo style of eating (I realise this doesn’t suit everyone). However if you’re faced with freshly baked  Yallingup Woodfired Bread don’t say no!
  6. Eat whole foods, nothing ‘low fat’ – just less of it. 
  7. Exercise how you wish but include some walking or running and some weight-bearing.
  8. Laugh and smile – it releases endorphins (happy hormones).
  9. Sleep: lack of sleep raises stress hormone levels which can cause adrenal fatigue which is bad for a heap of reasons, one of which is that you tend to overeat and your metabolism doesn’t function as effectively.

Crazy as it sounds: have a bit of fun with it. Although I have to admit I am really struggling to find a cold shower fun.

cold shower psycho

Let’s Do Coffee

Let’s Do Coffee

Finally. Proof from my favourite people (scientists) that coffee is good for you.

Huffington Post reported earlier this week that drinking coffee can lower your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. I went to Google Scholar to check the paper the news came from and yes, it’s true.

black coffee

That’s not all my fellow Cimba’s regulars: Coffee has also been discovered to do the following. I am keeping this very short as I know you want to skim over this and rush to the kettle to get cracking.

  • Coffee can lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s by as much as 25%
  • It can help ward off basal cell carcinoma (more so for women than men)
  • It can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer in men
  • It can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by boosting GCSF levels in the brain (google it)
  • It can lower the risk of depression in women by 15% to 20%
  • Finally it can help you spot grammatical (although not spelling) errors in your writing

The ‘dose’ seems to be around three to four cups a day and it’s still unclear as to whether the benefits are specifically tied to the caffeine although the evidence seems to point in that direction.

If this isn’t the best news you’ve had all day…you just haven’t had enough coffee.

Milk and Cookies and Vegas

Milk and Cookies and Vegas

Sensible friends today come in the form of Trip Advisor strangers. The thing I love about Trip Advisor is that you generally visit the page when planning a trip and who doesn’t love a trip to anywhere?

Rob and I have been talking about this one for a decade, since we sat on a veranda in Bali on our tenth wedding anniversary sipping champagne from our treasured “bride” and “groom” glasses. We decided back then that if we made it to twenty years we’d go to Las Vegas and get married again in the cheesiest ‘wedding’ ceremony we could find.

That time has come. A lot has happened in our twenty years together. There’s a time for knuckling down to the hard, often happy, sometimes sad business of raising a family….and there’s a time for fun.

I’ve been angling for a drive-thru ceremony but Rob’s insisting on an Elvis celebrant who looks and sounds nothing like Elvis. We’ve booked a couple of nights at the Bellagio as it seemed to embody everything that is wonderful about Vegas – majestic fountains, close to the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, a volcano, “fun with guns”, Rod Stewart, and the Colosseum. Who needs Europe?

Before Vegas we’re taking a road trip from San Francisco down the Big Sur with a couple of overnighters including a quaint little place in Carmel that serves milk and cookies with their turn-down service. Adorable.

The children will fly themselves over to meet us in Los Angeles. A week in West Hollywood (WeHo!) is about as close to camping as we’re likely to get, I think. Some of you might think this is a bit sad but I think: Santa Monica Boulevard baby!

welcome las vegas

 

Energy Balls (Amazeballs #2)

Energy Balls (Amazeballs #2)

I wasn’t kidding when I said it was impossible to go wrong with the amazeballs, consequently our recipe here at home has morphed with each making and currently it’s proving an easy winner and looking better than ever before.

Lately I have been leaving out the raw cacao powder for some variety and rolling them in a really lovely desiccated coconut I found at The Angry Almond. Rather than weigh the ingredients into the thermomix (food processor), I sit it on the same shelf of the pantry as the jars of ingredients and just throw them in, hence the measurements in handfuls rather than grams.

Energy/Superfood/Bliss AmazeBalls

  • 3 handfuls almonds
  • 1 handful cashews
  • 2 handfuls pitted medjool dates
  • 1 handful each of gogi berries, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, shredded coconut
  • Big Tbsp coconut oil, small Tbsp coconut sugar if you want extra sweet.

Grind the nuts a bit first then add everything else, form into balls (or press into a muffin tin) and roll in desiccated coconut.

energy bliss superfood balls

Bliss.

 

Why the Frown? (It’s Bitchy Resting Face)

Why the Frown? (It’s Bitchy Resting Face)

Oldest Daughter: “Why are you always frowning at me when I talk to you lately?”

Me: “Because the Botox has worn off and I have ‘Bitchy Resting Face’. Sorry.”

This is something that has bothered me for years without my having any idea what it was; ever since I was in a restaurant with a group of friends at around the age of 20 and the glamour-boy lawyer sitting next to me suddenly said, with no preamble, “Why are you so serious all the time?”

If only we’d had the Internet back then in the eighties (actually, I thank the Lord above we didn’t).

It’s all over the web right now: Bitchy Resting Face (BRF) is the syndrome of one’s neutral expression looking like one has just swallowed half a lemon, or is gearing up to belt someone in the head. Or is simply a total bitch. Usually the person who has this affliction is thinking nothing more cantankerous than whether the sheets need changing, or whether anyone remembered to lock up the chicken that night.

There are some famous people who share this affliction with we everyday people: Kristen Stewart aka Bella is the poster girl for BRF.Kristen Stewart

My BRF pin-up girl is Anna Paquin aka Sookie Stackhouse – frowny forehead and yet absolutely gorgeous.

BRF Sookie Stackhouse

.Sookie Stackhouse Anna Paquin

A few men even suffer too, often called Resting Asshole Face for the guys. Kanye West does it best and Robert Downie Jnr scares young children with his.

BRF Kanye West

BRF robert downey jnr

As we age, our neutral, or ‘resting’ face is the one that becomes etched deeply upon us. For some lucky souls like the lovely Jennifer Aniston, this will be laugh lines.

BRF Jennifer Aniston

For many of us however, Bitchy Resting Face it is. Even the ever-beautiful Jessica Lange.

jessica lange

For we sufferers from Generation X, how different would our twenties, and even thirties, have been had this been a recognised ‘thing’ then? I, for one, wouldn’t have sweated about being ‘too serious’ for about a decade and just worn a brooch announcing ‘I’m Not Unhappy, I Suffer From BRF’.

Clever Man: Man Up.

Clever Man: Man Up.

“Poor Rob” as people sometimes refer to my husband has a terribly sore back. He recently had to forgo several days of surfing while on a surfing holiday. This is him after a recent visit to the physio:

sore back

Coincidentally, at this time his buddy (today’s Clever Man) Henry Willis has been expounding the virtues of the Standing Desk, something he has had great success with himself.

standing desk 19th century

Rob has leapt to his feet fast on this one, and ordered a standing desk from Bad Backs, According to Henry if you have a sore back, walking into the store is as exciting as it was walking into a lolly shop as a kid.

msf standing desk RN

Ernest Hemingway was a big fan:

art manliness ernest hemingway

The article itself was on a fabulous website that is going to take up a good chunk of today’s online surfing time if you’re a fella:

The Art of Manliness

art of manliness logo man

The site is filled with wonderful, manly advice. Who has experienced the floppy fish or too strong handshake? Who worries that we’re not shaking hands enough anymore? Here’s how to do it right:

art manliness handshake

There is a whole section on relationship advice such as Being Neighbourly, How to Communicate Your Needs in a Relationship, How to Create a Lifelong Brotherhood and my favourite: Fathering with Intentionality: The Importance of Creating a Family Culture:

“Understand this: A family culture happens whether you’re consciously creating it or not. It’s up to you and your wife to determine whether that culture is of your choosing. If you want a positive family culture, you must commit yourself to years of constant planning and teaching. A culture isn’t something that’s created overnight; it requires daily investment. But the payoff is definitely worth it.”

art manliness breakup

Do you actually know the right way to break down a door? It could come in handy.art manliness break door

Yes, it is manly to carry a handkerchief like our fathers and grandfathers did. You’re not likely to be robbing a stage coach but there’s something rather attractive in a Don Draper sort of way about a man whipping out a handkerchief to mop his brow.

Art Manliness handkerchief

Not sure how to dress for a particular occasion? It’s all sorted here. There’s even a how to on shoe shining, which buttons of a jacket to do up and what to wear when an invitation says formal, semi formal or smart casual.

Art Manliness Casual Office

Thank you to our manly Clever Man Henry for this little gem of a website and for easing Poor Rob’s pain.

 

So this chick walks into a university…

So this chick walks into a university…

So I enrolled at university yesterday. As a result, I’m feeling hip and cool enough to start all my sentences with “so”.

So I walk in to Winthrop Hall at the University of Western Australia and I want to say I was transported back to my first year of university in the mid-1980s but in fact I felt like someone’s mum (well I guess I am; my oldest is freaking the fuck out at the prospect of possibly sharing a campus with me next year and to be honest I don’t blame her).

So there’s me and all the other (extremely young) students-to-be, sitting in chairs waiting to be taken through Step One (of eight!) of enrollment  playing with our iPads. I was cruising the ‘Net, checking out the holiday snaps of someone I barely know on Facebook as you do but the young people were getting frustrated; couldn’t get online with the free UWA wi-fi link. One guy asked me “So how did you get into the free wi-fi?” “What? Oh, I’ve got 3G…sorry”, I replied. Poor darlings: No working wi-fi, no 3G. They had to just sit there like something out of 1985.

So there I was: Old….but rich. Rich enough to have an iPad with 3G. I was living the dream.

So I get to the front of the queue. By this stage I am in about Stage Three or Four of enrollment.  Each stage took us to a different part of the campus. I even got to see inside the Maths Building. A flushed-with-the-beauty-of-youth girl rushed up to me with handfuls of flyers, handing me each one with a little spiel. At one point she started to hand one to me and then hesitated, looking confused/embarrassed. “Are you a mature-aged student?” she asked. It was like asking someone if they are pregnant as you watch the head crown out of the mother’s body. “Ahh yes, I think I might be!” I said brightly.

[I’m over the So. So is so ten minutes ago.]

A little later, perhaps it was around Stage Six of the enrollment process – they are all blurred now – a handsome young fellow thrust a flyer at me and asked me if I was familiar with the Uni Guild, “you know,” he said, “sundowners and stuff?” From [alcohol-damaged] memory, that was the part of uni back in the day that involved an enormous amount of drinking and staying up late. The sweet chap had obviously been instructed to offer this social opportunity to everyone so I tried to make his day a little easier saying “Yeah I was familiar with it about 30 years ago” Did I want the flyer? “Ahh no that’s okay.” Really? Really.

Stage Seven saw me handing over my now-renewed student card for ID to the computer girl and I got this reaction:

“WHOA! Your student number starts with a ONE! Ohmygod, I have seriously never seen that before. A one…wow! When were you here? Woah!”

But I am saving the best for last and possibly only other Western Australians will truly appreciate this.

Exhausted and nearly brain-dead after going through all those stages of enrollment, I stopped by the university cafe for caffeine. Friends, I paid $1.90 for a coffee. Granted it was a little dampened by the fact I had to show ID (for the opposite reason one usually breaks out ID), but I grinned all the way to the car with my ONE DOLLAR AND NINETY CENT coffee. Best coffee I have ever tasted. I’ll try to sneak a few of you in, maybe we can get some fake ID’s made up…

psychology text book

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