Oops, back again

After a very long writing hiatus while I focussed on illustrating a children’s book, travel and health issues, I’m back once more. 

Right up until my 50s, I LOVED writing.  Passionate about it.  Wrote every day.  On every trip we took, I’d write screeds and post dozens of photographs.  I fully expected to keep doing this until I was very old.

But something seems to happen as you age – a lot of what you were passionate about when you were younger dissipates.  Your motivations and enthusiasms change.  Your mojo motors off to some other place.  Well, at least that’s what I found.

So this is my last gasp at getting this blog up and rolling on a regular basis.  I’ve been on some spectacular trips over the past decade and none of them are in here.  So let’s see if I can change that.

This year I’m on a big health kick – making sure I get plenty of sleep, getting my menopausal issues under control, and working on energy and being kind to myself and others.  I have a lot of other goals to kick too.

This is also a warning to those of you who think “oh I’ll wait until I’m retired before I … write the book / travel the  world / spend time with my parents / run a marathon ….”

Life doesn’t always work that way.

Aside from changes to your motivation, we have many friends in their early 60s (and younger) who are experiencing severe illness or physical issues.  It’s stopping them from planning ahead, travelling with any degree of adventure, or doing those fun things you think you’re going to do in retirement.  Don’t wait people … PLAN and then DO IT NOW!

And that’s all I have to say for the time being 🙂

p.s. For anyone interested, the drawing above is part of an illustration I did late last year. Will post more in due course.


I quit sugar – week 4

It’s the end of week 4 following the IQS regime.  And what have I found after not consuming sugar for four solid weeks?  Hold your collective breaths … here’s the results.

Weight loss – only a measly 1kg.  This was an ongoing surprise.  After 3 weeks, I hadn’t lost anything.  So after some discussion in week 3, I realised my portion control needed revision – a case of a few handfuls of nuts too many. So I cut back and lost the kilo.

Measurements – completely unchanged.  Unsurprised.  You don’t lose weight, the shape doesn’t change.

Wellbeing – very even moods, but I’m on HRT (which contains a small dose of antidepressant) so who knows whether it’s the absence of sugar or the medication keeping things nice.

Energy – haven’t particularly noticed a huge change to date. Not feeling blah every day though, and certainly not exhausted and needing an afternoon nap, so that’s a good start. Find myself a bit perkier in the evenings and coping much better with late nights.

Overall health – took weeks for the bronchitis to completely disappear. The thick phlegm constantly in my throat for weeks was the worst and I’m very glad to be rid of it.  I’ve not had an issue with the chemical taste in my mouth either, so this means I can actually taste what I’m eating.  Goodness, I’ve only just realised that!

Bowel movements – have become regular, plus blood from haemorrhoids has all but disappeared.

Exercise – not quite so exhausted after a workout, which I’ve just realised as I write this. Perhaps changes are more subtle.  Exercise at the gym 5-6 days a week and really trying to push myself to improve the heart rate.  It’s going well.

Motivation – it’s quite strange because normally at four weeks, I’m over the dieting thing. But I feel very motivated to continue with this because I see it as a lifetime way to be healthy. I don’t feel deprived, I have the time to make different things and while some of the recipes are really rather odd, I’m enjoying all the new taste sensations.

Outcome 1

So I’m really disappointed with the result, mostly because I expected better weight loss. If you’re not eating all those cakes, chocolates and desserts, and meal sizes are smaller – then surely some weight loss must occur – even at my advanced age.

On Saturday I was so disheartened that I decided it was time for a bit of deviation. So when out for dinner at a friend’s house, I accepted the offer of a cocktail (ice-based with 3 different non-creamy alcohols), enjoyed a small portion of dessert, and knocked off a few pieces of dark chocolate. That was my blowout and I was promptly on the straight and narrow again on Sunday.

Outcome 2

After some discussion with my partner after this dinner, decided I’d add a variation to my IQS week. Two days of the week would be devoted to fasting, specifically the 5:2 diet in which you imbibe 500 calories only for two days of the week then eat normally on the other five.  I can do that.

Sunday was the first day and it went well.  Got rather peckish at times but we had a lot of hot drinks and got through it without any trauma.

And guess what?  I woke up this morning (Monday) feeling considerably perky. So we’ll see how that goes combining the two diets.  I’m thinking this could be a winning combination.

We’re doing a trip up to southern NSW in weeks 5-6 so that’ll be a challenge not having my kitchen with all its ingredients and a freezer full of preprepared foods.  There’s also the challenge of eating 500 calories when in the company of friends on holiday.

There you go – let’s see how the next few weeks go.  I shall keep you posted.

I quit sugar – week 1

At the end of the first week on the I Quit Sugar (IQS) program, here’s how it’s travelling.  Despite copping a nasty dose of acute bronchitis in the lead up and during the first week, I amazed myself by not wavering from the plan.


First things first, I began by:

1.  Clearing out the kitchen

I’ve been ditching/eating unnecessary foods for quite some months as a prelude to quitting sugar and rubbish food altogether.  We have a very small kitchen with limited cupboard space, so all interesting ingredients are lined up along the main shelf.


I left existing sauces intact in the fridge.  They’re easily enough ignored (who binges on tomato sauce?) and my partner can happily finish them off.  He’s not interested in being on this no-sugar plan, so I can’t penalise him too much.

Anyone who knows me will know I LOVE cream.  Cream is by far and away the world’s best invention.  Because full fat dairy is encouraged on IQS, cream stays in the fridge.  However, there’s not much I can munch it with during the first 8 weeks – no cake or fruit or desserts.  However, I’ve worked out it can be tossed on cereal and if one is desperate, one could make creamed rice or sago.  Where there’s a will there’s a way.  The trick will be consuming a little tiny bit and not half the carton, otherwise weight loss won’t be happening.

Stopped buying fruit a few days before the start date and anything left has either been munched or tossed to the insects in the compost bins.

Leaving everything else as it is because, as mentioned above, I don’t have a lot of space in the kitchen so it’s not filled with tempting evil munchies.

2. Shopping

IQS kindly provide you with a list of stuff to buy.  So on Sunday I took my list, hacking cough and grocery bags for a big shop.

Had the vague hope I shouldn’t need to visit a supermarket for another week and this proved correct.  This is a welcome novelty – tend to hit a supermarket a few times a week. Nice to not waste time going so regularly.

3. Cooking up a minor hurricane

*  Tomato sauce

Homemade IQS tomato sauceStore bought tomato sauce is FULL of sugar, BBQ sauce is even worse.  So I made a batch of homemade tomato sauce.

Oh my, it’s very spicy and the cooking odour sure flavoured the house.  However it rocks and rolls on top of sausages and lamb chops. Scrumptious.

I divided into 3 portions – one for the fridge and rest in the freezer.

* Mayonnaise

Stopped eating store-bought mayonnaise a few years ago after realising how full of toxic fake oils they are.  You will not find a single mayo that doesn’t contain canola, sunflower or some other crap oil, no matter how much the label declares it’s healthy and amazing.

I keep a container of IQS mayo in the fridge.  Makes it easier to create a potato salad or toss over a green salad. And what’s more, it’s a really nice mayo.

* Bread

In 2016, I worked out which breads to buy at the supermarket.  Certainly not the rubbishy mass produced bread all supermarkets have as they contain toxic fake oil and/or sugar.  So I’m left with artisan breads – ciabatta, rye, wholemeal and white cob. Pretty sad isn’t it, having to eat artisan breads.

Over the past year, I’ve often made my own bread with divine help from a breadmaker*.  Originally Gregoire and I were concerned we’d stuff our faces with fresh bread until it was gone, but that’s turned out not to be the case.  We love devouring the crust straight away, but otherwise a smallish loaf lasts 2-3 days.

* Breakfast muffins

The Apple Bircher Breakfast Muffins took a while to make – a lot of ingredients and a bit of fiddling around.

They look great but are quite heavy, so I can only eat one at a time (a serving is two). Devoured them warm with delicious full-fat yoghurt.

Next time I’ll lessen the amount of almond meal and use flour to see if that lightens them up.  Oh, and pick a sweeter apple.  I used a very sour granny smith – not a smiley experience when you bite into a wedge of apple inside the muffin and it sets your teeth sideways.


1. Appetite

Due to the bronchitis, no exercise occurred until the end of the week, and my appetite went on holiday (bit of a change).  With thick phlegm constantly sitting in my throat and a vague chemical taste lurking, both the look and taste of food wasn’t so enticing.

Hence I wasn’t hugely interested in eating, let alone overeating. I wondered how that would change once the lurg cleared up.  It finally got better as I moved into week 2, and the appetite is back.  Kept getting hungry and so overindulged in nuts.  Not a good idea, need to plan better as they’re too high in fat.

2. Cravings

Even though my appetite wasn’t brilliant, found I was still getting the odd craving after lunch or dinner.  I got around that by going off into my study and doing some painting or messing about on the laptop.  Worked a treat.  End of craving.

3. Toileting

Isn’t this a fun topic?  I know you’re busting to read about this.  I’m actually only including this because it might be useful to others who follow this regime.  You young things may laugh but trust me, it’s likely bowel issues are going to happen to you.

All my later adult years (never took any notice earlier on in life), bowel movements occurred every 2-3 days.  Never been regular and often I’d be a bit constipated.

Poor eating has inspired the advent of first stage haemorrhoids (trying spelling that in a hurry).  This means it bleeds when I have a bowel movement.  No pain at all – but it sure requires a lot more toilet paper to mop up.

I’m charting how often I go and so far, while it’s still irregular, bowel movements are more often and it’s easier to go. This is a good thing. You may smile now.

4. Other stuff

No other issues, which is surprising.  Thought there’d be lousy somethings happening at some point.  In a weird way, I think the bronchitis helped in that I was too sick to crave anything.

Energy is good, slowly improving.  This is the main area I’m keeping an eye on as I’m so tired of being tired.  However, it does help being retired.  Full time work has got to be one of the biggest obstacles to being rested and relaxed.

Weight loss

I lost 1 kilo in the first 5 days, then put it back on in the last 2 days.

Why?  We went out for meals on Saturday night and Sunday lunch plus dinner.  I’m still no good with controlling my intake when I’m at someone else’s place, where the only things to occupy my brain are conversation and food.

Even though I didn’t eat sugar (excluding 6 cherries, 2 strawberries and 2 thin slices of pineapple), there was too waaaaay much cheese, salami and olives consumed.  I paid the price.

We’re away from home and eating out for 4 & 1/2 days in the second week.  I’m trying to plan for this now.


  • Thanks to my sister Ruth who loaned the divine breadmaker

I’m quitting sugar!

It’s time to make change.  Middle age isn’t a lot of fun when the diet keeps whirling out of control, weight starts to pile on, and one feels perfectly crap.   So here’s how I’m gonna do it.

The ‘now’ situation

After continually waking up feeling tireder than when I went to bed, struggling to be motivated, feeling like my get-up-and-go has got-up-and-vanished-into-the-ether, I’ve decided to get serious and do something about it.

The extra kilos I’m carrying will be playing a large part in feeling so bad, and therefore that’s the area I need to change first.  It’s also the one area I have 100% control over.

I’m also aware that menopause plays a huge part in feeling blah much of the time, so I plan to eventually get my hormone levels checked.  Then I’ll know for sure how much of a male I’m turning into.  Honestly, how unfair is that.  When you’re a female, looking like a bloke isn’t part of the plan.  Same for a guy.  How many older guys do you know who have breasts and higher voices?  Maybe they need to follow my plan too.

And while I’m on the subject – why is there viagra for men and nothing similar for women?  That’s just plain mean.


Why sugar/fructose is really bad

I plan to refer to this list whenever I feel like jumping off the wagon.

  • Sugar is highly addictive.
    Like other addictive substances, it takes a mountain of willpower to kick it. There’s a mountain of research on this so I ain’t talking through my hat.
  • Causes overeating.
    The sweet stuff seems to encourage bingeing and thus we munch more than we’re ever designed to eat.
  • Team up sugar with fat and very soon ye shall put on weight.
    You might be able to get away with it in your 20s, 30s and even your 40s. But by the time you hit your 50s and although you might still be active, for most of us getting fatter becomes the order of the day.
  • Sugar feeds cancer cells.
    This is a biggie. I wonder if people who have cancer are told this by the medical profession?  Indeed, I understand you’re fed a sugar substance when they scan to find cancer cells, because cancer cells just looove to feed and grow on sugar.  Why is this not more widely known?
  • Sugar marries well with many diseases.
    For example, sugar loves to play havoc with people who have autoimmune diseases. There’s a lot of information out there on the havoc sugar creates when you’re suffering from all sorts of things.
  • Causes rollercoaster highs and lows.
    This leads me to wonder if people who suffer from depression, bipolar and other such mental issues wouldn’t benefit from ditching sugar from their diets.
  • It’s linked to dementia.
    If this works out to be so, I’m in very big trouble.  Dementia runs down my mother’s side – females only at this stage.  Perhaps cutting out sugar will stop or defer the onset of symptoms.
  • Inhibits our immune system so it’s difficult to fight off bugs.
    I’m finding as I age, that the body takes 2-3 times longer to heal. Adding sugar to the equation probably doesn’t help.

Health concerns

I’m adding this bit so I have a baseline to refer to as time goes on.  For others who happen upon this blog, it might prove useful if you’re suffering similar issues.

  • Weight control.  I’m too fat.  Far too much fat around my mid-section = middle aged spread.  With the joys of menopause (so little to recommend it, other than saying goodbye to years of stomach cramp and messy periods), no clothes fit nicely.  One feels old and decrepid.
  • Feel addicted to sugar.  Crave it much of the time. Throat often full of phlegm so I’d like to find out what’s sparking that.
  • Heart rate issues.  Not able to exercise as well aerobically (even from a year ago),  takes 3-4 times as long to recover from aerobic exercise, find my heart beats way too fast if I push myself.
  • Poor energy. Tired and fatigued much of the time and have to take Nanna naps when it gets bad.
  • Lack of motivation, enthusiasm, get up and go.  Most days I suffer from the ‘blahs’ and the ‘yeah whatevers’.
  • Healing.  Taking 4-8 weeks to heal from cuts, abrasions and mozzie bites.
  • Bug fighting.  Constantly fighting off an impending cold and when I get them, ooh I’ve had some doozies.
  • Chemical taste in my mouth.  Nasty taste comes and goes and may have something to do with my teeth. But if I can remove sugar as a possible irritant, then the dentist is my next port of call.

Operation ‘Quit Sugar’

Denise in 2005, like to be feeling and looking like this again
Denise in 2005
– like to be as healthy as I was then

Here’s the plan. I’m going to:

1. Cut sugar from my diet for a minimum of 8 weeks.

The official start date is 12 January 2017. I’ll be following Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” 8 week plan, and joined online to ensure there’s added incentive.

Bought her books in early 2016 and have been trying lots of her ideas, but that hasn’t stopped me imbibing sugar in all its various formats.

However, I’ve noted that when I do cut down on sugar, I feel heaps better and lose weight without unduly thinking about it.  But now I really need to go the whole hog and not just phaffle around with sides of bacon.

2. Cut toxic fake fats out of my diet forevermore.

I began deleting the following fats from my diet in mid 2014 after reading “Toxic Oil” by David Gillespie. This means one no longer consumes margarine, canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil or soy oil.

Why?  Because they’re man-made using chemical processes. Our bodies have no clue what to do with them when consumed. You can argue all you like that David’s deductions aren’t scientific, but to me it makes total and perfect logical sense. If a product needs a chemical process to be created and provide a shelf life such that it doesn’t spoil in 5 minutes, there’s something wrong with it.

I also plan not to consume anything with palm oil given the environmental concerns.

The tricky bit is … these products are in EVERYTHING. Have a look at the ingredients in any sort of cracker, biscuit, crisps, fish and chips, most deli goods, relish, mayonnaise, sauce, frozen meal, bread (excluding artisan), tinned foods etc.  I bet you can’t find one that doesn’t either contain one of the above ingredients and/or sugar of some sort. Good luck with that.

It makes you realise how widespread their use is and how tricky it is to remove them from your diet.  And it also makes you wake up to the idea that eating fake oil can’t possibly be good for you.

3. Keep up the exercise plan.

This one isn’t a problem as I’ve exercised 5-6 days a week for decades.  Weight training, tabata, HIIT, F45, personal training, running, swimming blah blah.  I don’t muck around – I like to work hard because it’s only for an hour each day.  I can spend longer than that eating lunch.

The trick will be to step up the intensity throughout the 8 weeks and give my heart a good workover to ensure it’s still in tip top nick.

4.  Get off HRT.

Finally, when my diet is under control and I feel half decent again, I’m going to wean myself off HRT tablets very s-l-o-w-l-y.  The tablets contain a mild anti-depressant, which I wasn’t aware of until I tried going cold turkey in early 2016.  That didn’t turn out so well.

I became depressed and incredibly angry ALL the time – like REALLY REALLY angry,  I’ll kill you all, don’t muck with me or you die.  My thoughts were negative and suicidal.  Certainly no fun to be around … oh my poor partner.  I’d burst into tears at the weirdest times – often after exercise which is when I’m normally at my most euphoric and happy.

So while life felt pointless, another part of my brain knew these thoughts weren’t logical and eventually it clicked that going cold turkey was a really stupid idea.  I resumed HRT a few months later and life eventually normalised.

But I want to get off them again only this time I’ll go slowly, safe in the knowledge that my nutrition is the best it can be.

5. Get a face lift

Just tricking.  Every time I mention I need a bit of a freshen up on the facial bits, everyone goes nuts at me.

And now …

So there you go.  That’s the general plan.  I’ll add some ‘before’ photos in due course and keep you posted as to how I go  …

1 good reason to use Facebook

Many of us enjoy sharing those special moments on Facebook … an overseas adventure, an incredible meal, a horrible deed undertaken by your child, appreciation of a loved one, the cat spinning around on an automatic vacuum cleaner, or a divine new recipe featuring acai, kale and quinoa.  But have you considered how it could be used for something more?

My mother suffers from dementia.  For the last few years, she’s lived in a high care home in New Zealand.  I get over there to visit her 3-4 times each year and with each visit, she’s lost a little more of her memory and personality.  There’s very little memory left now but you can still occasionally trigger a little spark when looking at photos, or talking to her about some little thing from the past.

For example, because one can never be sure if she remembers you, my dad asked her recently “hello, what’s my name?”   “Goodness” Mum replies “you really should know that by now …”.

There are times when I’d love to have all her memories in one place – all the special things that meant something to her, read her dry witty comments, look at photos that gave her pleasure, explore examples of her beautiful knitting, crochet, embroidery and ceramics. Mostly I’d just love to find out what made her tick because, over the years, I’ve forgotten.  Or I never knew.

While most of the time I’m grateful that Facebook didn’t exist during my young years (dread to think what seriously embarrassing stuff I’d have posted), there’s many times when I wish the internet, digital cameras and Facebook had been around when I was 14, 21, 30 years old.

Why is this?  Because over the years, and after one particularly scarring relationship, I’ve forgotten who I was way back when.  And because of that relationship, I have very little left to show for it in the way of photos and memorabilia. It’d be really interesting to look back and get a view of what I was thinking, what was I interested in, what did I do with my time, what did I look like, who were my friends and what made them tick, and on what planet was my brain at any given moment?


This lack of memories got me thinking.  Actually … worrying mostly.  What if I get dementia? Why can’t I remember what I did yesterday?  Do I have it already?

Even if I do all the things the “experts” say to prevent this poxy disease, I suspect that if my mother copped it, and her mother copped it, then there’s a good likelihood I’ll cop it too.


These days I use Facebook for something different.  It’s become my “future proofing” – a memory album for the future, in case dementia starts tearing away and destroying the pathways to memories in my brain.

I take comfort that should I end up in high care in the far flung future, my ol’ chap will be able to display my Facebook feed on an iPad 127 and share memories of things I’ve posted. He’ll probably get a surprise too, because not being a Facebook user and indeed slagging it at every opportunity, he doesn’t know the half of what I’ve posted on there.

So instead of denigrating Facebook or seeing it as a skitefest by your friends, perhaps try seeing it as an opportunity to stack away those memories for the future.

Why not show everyone your personality, express what matters to you (including religion and politics), post lots of cat videos, and ensure there’s heaps of photos and anecdotes about your parents, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and friends.

Sure beats having nothing to show at the end of it all!