School Holiday Challenge

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Floriade in Canberra is a fantastic free event!

I don’t know about other mums, but every during every single school holiday I end up spending a shed load of money and sometimes I wonder what for. It’s not that my son is ungrateful at all, but trips to the cinema, shopping malls, the zoo and the occasional treat all add up.  With a new baby on the way, I can’t afford to be frittering money away but this will also be the last holiday I spend with Harrison where he is an only child so I want it to be special.

Canberra has a lot on offer, particularly in spring-time and I intend to make the most of it. We’ll seek out the free holiday activities, visit museums and parks. We’ll also work on the things we haven’t gotten around to yet, such as getting more confident on the bike and scooter. Harrison’s grandparents send monthly parcels from the UK too and in all honesty, we haven’t got through half of the activities that have been sent!

The only exception to this rule will be pocket money. We give Harrison $5 each week and if he chooses to spend the money he has saved on a game or toy, that will be up to him.

  

I’ll report back at the end of the two week holiday. Wish me luck!

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Whole 30: A Summary

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I’ve blogged, instagrammed and tweeted about my Whole 30 experience throughout. Each week was a series of ups and downs, followed by an eventual acceptance that this was now the new ‘normal’ for me.

At first, Whole 30 appears to be extremely strict – there are just so many limitations: no dairy, sugar, wheat, gluten, legumes and absolutely no processed foods! You may even wonder what the hell there is left to eat! If you’re not prepared and haven’t done your research, you will be setting yourself up for failure.

I’ll be honest, there have been points where i’ve wanted to cry: i’ve had major cooking fails, felt sick, tired and even had my dreams invaded with thoughts of cupcakes, burgers and pizza! Early on I thought that I might use pregnancy as an excuse, but even during my baby shower, I stuck to the plan.

At 27 weeks pregnant, I didn’t do this for weight-loss but a general sense of well-being instead. Having said that, I haven’t put on any weight during the 4 weeks of the challenge. This hasn’t at all been due to starvation – on reflection I had done the typical pregnancy gorge for most of the second trimester and had probably put on a little excess weight! They do say not to weigh yourself during the challenge, and I can see why. A lot of the Crossfitters who started the challenge with me gave up during the ‘bloaty stage’ of week 2.

 

So here are my general findings:

  • I have more energy: i’m not feeling the urge to nap every day and not feel so tired after CrossFit.
  • I know that I have the right mindset to see a challenge through
  • I feel less emotional and more positive
  • I’m appreciating the natural sweetness and flavourings of food
  • My skin is clear, my eyes brighter and my hair is no longer getting really tangled up
  • I’ve gained a new-found love for cooking and recipe experimentation
  • I know that being healthy doesn’t mean flashing the cash
  • My family are eating better and Harrison (my 6 year old is less fussy about what he eats)

If you want to partake in a Whole 30 challenge yourself, check out the website and possibly buy the book (I got by without). Thorough research and preparation is crucial!

 Canberra Cafe Scene: Fox & Bow 

Fox & Bow in Farrer, Canberra is my absolute favourite cafe. Anyone who follows my insty feed will know that I post about the place regularly, but that’s probably because it’s a ten minute walk from my house!! Now I come from the UK where you will find a quaint pub in every village –  here, in Canberra, it’s all about the cafes.

Fox & Bow is owned by the energetic Alex Piris who really is the star of the show. His magnetic personality and the delicious, quirkily named food keeps customers coming back again and again. In fact, the cafe has become so successful that he recently opened  Ivy and The Fox with co-owner, John Stokes.

I’m a regular at Fox & Bow, often popping in for a cappuccino immediately after the school run. All the staff are warm and welcoming, despite often being rushed off their feet, which does keep me coming back for more.

I’ll let the pictures of the glorious food do the talking…

It might be all about the ‘Freak Shake’ in Canberra at the moment, but Fox & Bow were creating sensational shakes way before. This Farrer’o Shake, for example: 

I loved dropping by for a warming chai latte in the winter months. Prepared me for the cold walk back to my house!

Healthy options are available as well as indulgent milkshakes. This ‘Buzz Lightyear’ with green capsicum and Tabasco had a real kick to it: 

Alex is a great guy and super friendly with kids. He played giant noughts and crosses with Harrison, obviously letting him win!

I’ve tried most things on the menu now and everything is top quality, but my absolute favourite is the Senorita Fox: 

   
 

Starbucks You Suck!

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Dear Starbucks, 

i’m breaking up with you… it’s not me, you suck!

Love HPH xx

I’m ashamed to admit that i’m a reformed Starbucks addict. The above is a picture of the drive-thru from my hometown which I visited EVERY SINGLE MORNING without fail. I was a complete junkie and sometimes not even one coffee was enough for me. This was my drink of choice:

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Not satisfied with a regular latte, I opted for the venti caramel macchiato – yes, I did say EVERY SINGLE MORNING. I can’t even begin to comprehend how much sugar I actually consumed during these daily visits.

When I first moved to Canberra, I was utterly devastated to learn that Starbucks was not a thing here, in fact they had been driven out of the capital due to lack of business. Must admit, I was kind of perplexed – who wouldn’t like Starbucks? Still, I coped and for 5 months I ingratiated myself into the Canberra coffee scene but the day-dream of  macchiatos played on my mind. I was overjoyed when we took a trip to Sydney this June; I would finally get the chance to visit a Starbucks! I excitedly googled locations and practically skipped up to the door…

And it was shit. The worst Starbucks experience I’ve ever had: the coffee was cold, the barista rude and the place was a filthy mess. I almost cried. My husband uttered the words ‘I told you it was crap,’ which really didn’t help that much if i’m honest. I’ve since gotten over it and realised that a cappuccino from my local cafe in Canberra is heaps better than any Starbucks would ever be.

More recently, my lovely friend Liz of Well Nourished Club set about investigating the coconut milk used as a ‘healthy alternative’ to regular milk. After drinking a coconut milk latte, she was curious to know the sugar content and received the vaguest response in the world. Not to be deterred, she asked to look at the ingredients at her local Starbucks and discovered this:

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Hmm… not so much ‘sweetened and diluted’ after all, but in fact a chemical shit-storm. Sadly I can’t say i’m that surprised – have you ever tasted one of their pumpkin spice lattes?

I’ve gotten through this post without even mentioning tax avoidance! It really is unbelievable what huge corporations can get away with. To my shame, I ignored this factor when I lived in the UK, so strong was my addiction to their weak, chemical ‘coffee.’ I shall be sticking to my local cafes from now on in order to support local economy.

Whole 30 Week 4

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A typical day on a plate. 

I can’t quite believe that i’ve made it to the final week unscathed. I thought the ‘pregnancy factor’ might of left me feeling cranky and weak-willed, but the opposite appears to be the case. Knowing the good that Whole 30 has done my body (and baby) has made me far more motivated that usual. Whether this will help me to avoid pre-eclampsia this time, remains to be seen!

Taking control of cooking and meal-planning has also made a significant difference. This is a skill that has taken a fair amount of time, but I feel like i’m flying now. I’m enjoying the prep and cooking process for the first time. Now that i’m a ‘housewife’ this is a huge deal for me. Sounds a little Stepford, but I feel more purposeful and it validates my role within the family.

Whole 30 just feels like normality for me now. I intend to continue for the most part with the occasional ‘cheat meal’ when events occur. I really don’t want to over-laden my body with sugar and processed foods again – it left me lethargic, greasy skinned and bloated. It’s just not really worth it.

I still have two official days left, after which i’ll write a summary of my personal results.

Floriade 2015: A photo diary 

  
Canberra, you are a beautiful place especially in Springtime. I can’t say that I get the ‘haters’ of Australia’s capital – try visiting some towns in Britain for a real definition of ‘nothing to do.’ 

Fact is Canberra has plenty to offer and a lot of it is free. This is perfect for families and those looking to save a little. I’ll elude to life in Canberra more in subsequent posts, but for now Floriade. 

Floriade is an annual flower show that is FREE. I’m no horticulturalist, but I sure love flowers. It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. 

Some things do cost, such as the fairground and Ferris wheel, but you could happily get away with spending nothing at all! The views from the wheel were pretty spectacular… 

    
   
I will let the photos of Floriade speak for themselves…  

    
    
    
    
    
    
 

Birth Planning? Be flexible!

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Baby Centre has helpful advice on what to consider. 

Last time I was pregnant, six years ago, I had everything mapped out. I was adamant that I would have a natural birth, preferably with the use of a birthing pool. I went to pregnancy yoga classes, I listened to birth hypnotherapy soundtracks on my iPhone and was determined to have no pain relief whatsoever.

This turned out to be a rather naive outlook. Whilst my pregnancy had been really healthy throughout, at 36 weeks things started to go a little wrong. The baby was measuring on the small side, I had protein in my wee and my blood pressure was up. I was told by my midwife to take it easy, which I did. Towards the end of the week, I was feeling faint and my ankles started to swell – it was then that I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. I was hurried into hospital where I spent the week attached to various monitors before I was induced and my son was born.

Re-winding slightly to the birth process, I found that choice was taken away from me. Whilst i’m a little hazy in the recollection of what happened, I do remember being bed-bound and frightened. I needed, rather than wanted, an epidural because it also lowers blood pressure. I felt sick, delirious and had little idea of what was happening. Contractions felt numb and I just didn’t have control over the process. HOWEVER, more importantly, my son was born healthy (with the slight exception of jaundice)  which could’ve been a different story without the medical interventions.

This time around, i’m so desperate to have as little medical intervention as possible. I wasn’t unhealthy before, but i’ve taken so many steps to try and avoid the same happening again. I take care of my body, I eat very healthily and i’m ensuring that I really listen to my body, resting whenever I can.  I don’t want an epidural because moving around and being active is really important to me. If I can get by with purely gas and air, then I would be ecstatic. I believe that this will make me feel more engaged post-birth too – epidurals do take a little while to wear off and can make you feel faint and wobbly.

The Canberra Centenary Hospital for Women and Children seems fantastic. I’m being well looked after as i’m perceived to be a ‘higher risk’ due to my previous case of pre-eclampia – because of this, i’m not allowed to have a home birth. Ideally, i’ll give birth in one of the suites shown below. They look like a home-from-home which will hopefully reduce any unnecessary anxiety. This is something I will start discussing with my midwife at my 28 week appointment, but i’m well aware that I need to be flexible with my decisions.

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For first time mums, there are plenty of birth plan templates that you can download for free so that you are aware of options available. At the very least, it will be the start of useful conversations with your midwife.

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The most important point is to be flexible with the plan. I’m hoping to have a natural birth, but if i’m told I need a Cesarean, then so be it! At the end of the day, the health and well-being of my baby will come first and pride wont get in the way of that!

Pregnancy: My Changing Body


Today I am 27 weeks pregnant, so this is the last week of my second trimester. Time is flashing by and I’m wondering how long I will continue to feel full of energy.

In my previous pregnancy, tiredness hit me like a wall come 30 weeks, I quit the gym and took it super easy. I’m hoping that CrossFit and a whole foods lifestyle will keep my energy levels up for a little while longer this time.

This is me at 27 weeks:


To me, the bump already looks considerably bigger than the previous week. Today in training I found box step-ups (20 inch box) difficult because my range of motion is reduced.

When I first fell pregnant, I found it hard to accept the changes that would happen. I worked so hard on getting my six-pack and felt confident about my body for the first time in forever.

Prior to falling pregnant in February of this year:

The majority of the first trimester, I covered myself up (probably unnecessarily) and was extremely paranoid about my bulging stomach. Whether this was all in my imagination or not, I’m not entirely sure as I refrained from taking any photos of my changing body.

This ‘bumpie’ from 17 weeks gives some indication as to what I actually looked like. I guess a flat stomach from the perspective of most!

From the start of the second trimester, I began to feel heaps more confident in my changing body and started to share my progress via my Instagram account:

I found it helpful to share, even if it is just for my benefit. I do still weigh myself too, although as I’m training and eating well, I’m not overly concerned.

So now, in the final week of my second trimester, I have reached full acceptance of the changes my body is going through. Pregnancy really is the most incredible time; I intend to make the most of this final stage by continuing to be as healthy and active as possible.

The Juice Debate 

 Is juice actually all that good for you? I know I’ve often thought I’d chosen the healthy option only to discover I’d gluggled my daily intake of sugar! 

When I first moved to Australia, I was overjoyed to get the chance to go to juice bars – they weren’t really a thing in my tiny town back home. Post training I’d grab a Boost Juice thinking I’d made a fantastic choice. I later found out that my go to ‘Gym Junkie’ contained over 40g of sugar!! May as well eat a muffin. 

  
This Pineapple, ginger and apple juice tasted amazing, but the fibre and nutrients get stripped away during the juicing process, leaving what is essentially sugar. 


Better options are vegetable juices like this beetroot, kale and celery concoction. The taste certainly takes some getting used to but my advice would be to start off with some fruit and gradually swap that for veg. 

In reality, it’s better to just eat the fruit whole as this is the only way to get all the nutrients. I now tend to juice only when my fruit or veg is ‘on the turn.’ 

 

Frugal Food

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Cooking in bulk to save time and money

Anyone who knows me will understand that I struggle to budget and also, up until recently, I’ve not been particularly fantastic at any kind of cooking. My husband did most prior to our move out to Australia (before I became a full-time mum) and I tended to go for the easy options when I did cook.

Part of the difficulty of Whole 30 in the beginning was the sheer amount of money I was spending on breakfast, lunch and dinner – everything had to be different until I realised that this was pretty unrealistic. In order to save money on the shop, I needed more vegetarian options and make food go further than before.

Beef mince has become my best friend and soup is a cheap, healthy alternative to having meat for every single meal. I’m very fortunate that I do currently have the time to spend hours in the kitchen prepping food and realise that not everyone has the same opportunity. A lot of my friends on Whole 30 food prep on a Sunday and freeze options ready – I guess the key is the preparation!

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Soup prepping!

Writing a menu plan and subsequent shopping list is absolutely key in order to avoid falling short mid-week, but it’s also important to be flexible with the list. On occasion I’ve found that the sell buy dates don’t suit or the product I needed wasn’t available.

  

Depending on the day you shop, you may want to do a massive cook-up the night before so as not to waste any produce. Friday’s in our house have now become ‘Frugal Friday’ where I endeavor to use everything left in the fridge/store-cupboard.  This sounds pretty depressing written down here, but actually it’s forcing me to become more creative with what I make at meal times!

  

So, top tips are:

  • Plan a menu for the week
  • Prep veg ahead of time
  • Cook in bulk and freeze/ use leftovers for lunch
  • Be flexible with offers available
  • Shop at the end of the day to seek bargains
  • Opt for at least one veggie option per week