Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sweets to the sweet, sugar to...not me

I'm not quite sure how it's happened, but I somehow appear to be going - sugar free. Also moving to the raw end of the scale. Now, I am in no way obsessive or particularly concerned with what I eat or don't eat. I have a reasonably good metabolism (thanks Dad!) which means I can eat most of what I want without getting ridiculous and growing out of all my pants. I seem to hover around 60 kilos with very little effort, and that on my 172cm frame is a 10 up top and a 12 down the bottom (thanks Mum!).

I have of course been in much better shape. Honeymoon shape, to be precise. 57 kilos, could-run-12km, visible abs kind of shape. See below for illustration.

 That's me in my wedding dress.  I was going to put this one from our honeymoon of me in a bikini jumping backwards into the water, but it doesn't seem to be in iPhoto.

Things have not changed hugely everything has just softened a bit lot around the edges. Not so many edges as once there were in fact. And there is just all around more. I can't run 12 km either, or do 60 sit-ups, or stretch out over my leg until my boobs hit my thigh. So although things are not dire, they are not optimum either.

But what to do?  I have been trying to run regularly again, but what with children, family, sick/hayfevery  husband one thing and another I am just not getting out there enough.  Well, even if exercise is difficult, you can always improve the eating side of things right?  But how?

I'm sure it works this way for everyone, in fact there is probably a word for it, but I've been having that thing where you keep hearing about something over and over from different sources, so even if you started by ignoring and dismissing, you find yourself taking it on board almost as though undergoing some kind of hypnosis. I am talking in this case about green smoothies.

I first heard about them a year or so ago on a podcast I love - Babies and Moms; Birth and Beyond. "Smoothies? And they're green? Yuck. Disgusting." And there I left it. But then a friend of mine started to make them and was talking about them recently. And then I was listening to Life Matters on ABC radio and they had a segment on them. Getting the picture? Green smoothies were everywhere.

The key ingredient seemed to be kale. Kale is not easy to find, and although I could have substituted spinach or something I decided I didn't want to mess around with inferior greens. Then I found some kale (also known as Tuscan Cabbage, thanks Wikipedia) and collected the other ingredients, namely mangoes, strawberries, freshly squeezed orange juice and tried my hand at whipping one up.

I didn't have a proper blender, just a bamix, so the resulting smoothie, while quite tasty, was a bit chunky. More chewy than is really ideal in something you're supposed to drink. I made DH drink it anyway, and he wasn't a big fan. I informed him he had been sick too often recently so until that stopped he'd be chewing bits of kale in a drink for the duration. He looked stoic, as he picked bits of  stem out of his teeth.

Suddenly I was obsessed with finding the perfect blender.  Reading reviews, checking the links, seeing blenders in my sleep...DH refused to listen to  my exhaustive rehashing of blender pros and cons after a while.

I never really considered spending $800 on a smoothie maker, and I ended up going to Harris Scarfe and buying a $40 blender which was marked down from $80.  And it works!  Still slightly chunky, but much better than the bamix and even better since I worked out it was better to remove the kale stem.

So each day I have been whipping up green smoothies for DH and I.  So far I've used kale, mango, banana, strawberries and blueberries in varying combinations and they are all yummy.  They also give me a definite energy boost and are nice and filling.  I'm sure they're making it easy to give up the refined sugar too, as I'm not having any cravings really. Today though, we've used up all the mangoes, and I'm not sure how a mango-free one will taste.  I'll give it a try though.

And the no-sugar thing?  That's kind of crept up on me too.  At some point last week I just decided, that's it, no more refined sugar for a while.  And it has been really easy so far.  I had a bit of a headache on Friday, but that's the only physical thing I've noticed.  Today I even had a coffee without my usual teaspoon of sugar and it was fine!  Well, the first sip was a bit bitter, but after that it was yummy. 

The good thing about no refined sugar is that you don't fuss around with working out how much of something you can have, you just don't have it at all.  So no biscuits, cakes, chocolate, hot chocolate, sugar in coffee, ice cream or slices.  I'm not going too nuts with worrying about things like sugar added to soy milk (although I did just buy a soy-milk maker on Ebay, so soon I'll be making my own from organic beans and nothing else), but the obvious sugar-containers are gone for now.  I am giving myself permission to have the occasional hot chocolate made with Jaspers chocolate powder, but that's all.

We'll see how I go.  I don't own scales, but I might take a photo of myself in my new bathers and post it here and then do a comparison shot in a couple of months.  That will be a good incentive to stick to my plan.

Also, inspired by Averil, I made some of these.  I couldn't get cacao powder so I used cacao nibs and cocoa powder.  They are pretty nice, although next time I think I'll use some dates and a bit of extra stevia powder as they are still a bit too bitter.  They are filling and more-ish though, and I like having something so healthy that I can grab as a quick snack.  I think it's the coconut butter that makes them so yummy.

I'd love to hear about anyone else's experiences with this kind of thing.  Any good links?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What is occupying my brain right now...

is homeschooling.  Well, unschooling/natural learning to be precise.  Even radical unschooling, which challenges all kinds of assumptions and my dearly-held beliefs.

Firstly,  homeschooling.  Why?  Well, Abi still has two more years at her Montessori kindergarten and Evie will start at some stage next year, probably in fourth term (sob, myyyy bbaaaayybeeeee).  The issue arises when Abi finishes and Evie still has two years to go.  What do we do?  I had always planned that they would go on to a Montessori primary environment; we have two semi-nearby, one private and one as part of a state primary school.  We live pretty much right in the middle of both so a 20/25 minute drive either way.

The state one is near the kindergarten so we could have Evie at kinder and Abi at the primary school.  Or, we could swap both to the private school, which has an attached kindergarten.  However, the private school's kindergarten is not as good as the one Abi attends now, and the state primary school stream is not as good as the private one.  Confused?  Yes, me too.

A couple of months ago it occurred to me that another option would be to leave Evie at the kinder we love and homeschool Abi for those two years.  Then we would have the option for them both to go to the private Montessori school or if it was going well, we could just continue to homeschool.  It was like the sun came out when I thought of this.  Homeschooling has always hovered at the back of my mind as an option for lots of reasons, and it seems right for us.  I love the school holidays and I have no doubts about Abi and my ability to learn together in a very natural and spontaneous way all the things she needs and wants to.  I love being with my girls and the thought of being with them for all those hours, days, weeks, months and years that I would otherwise lose is intoxicating.

This is hard to talk about sometimes because I worry people who are making different choices will feel attacked or judged by me.  But I have so many reservations about school as an institution, even though I personally had a mostly positive time there.  But the more I think about it, the more it seems insane that children have to go somewhere 6 hours a day, five days a week, forty weeks a year for 13 years.  13 years!

I remember in year 10 saying to a friend that I thought we could have learned everything we had learned at high school so far in one and a half years.  I was being generous.  I have since read that it takes around 1 and a half hours per day to cover the actual curriculum.  The rest of the school day is about behaviour management, assemblies, waiting around for everyone to catch up and just waiting.   When I look back at school, I remember lunchtime and the seemingly endless hours of sitting in class, waiting for it to be over.   Sometimes I was interested in the class, but that was pretty rare.

School suits parents and society because it gives children somewhere to go, a place that will keep them safe and occupied (although I could put quotation marks around those words) and out of the real life lived by adults.

School is not real life.  It is a fake, manufactured social world that all too often seems to bring out the worst in people.  I don't want my girls bullied, periodically ostracised, ridiculed for learning, dumbing themselves down, learning to victimise others, putting up with years of boredom or being forced to memorise and learn things they aren't interested in and won't need to use.  

There are other things too, but I'm out of time.  It's a big subject and a big decision.    I'm becoming more and more sure that it's the right one for us though.