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Back to the gym for the first time in YEARS!

28 Jan


See this pic? This was taken at my first Lite n’ Easy photo shoot almost four years ago. I was asked to form a yoga pose and to be honest I’m not even sure this is one. I fell over about half a second after this picture was taken.
In exactly a week I will be making my return to the gym. It’s been a five year absence filled with three children (two of whom I had very close together), bankruptcy, moving house, working as much as possible and continuing my battle of the bulge.

I first used Lite n’ Easy in my early twenties. I’ve just turned 37 and I while the program still works like clockwork, I find it much harder to keep the weight off. A day of indulgence can cause a weight gain that cancels out a week of the full Lite n’ Easy program. Excuse my language but WTF?

I know what the problem is. It’s my lack of proper exercise. I’ve always loved exercising but I definitely have my good weeks and my bad weeks. It was my brother’s girlfriend who reminded me that when it comes to losing the last five kilos and more importantly, keeping the buggers off, it’s all about muscle tone. I have good arms. I always fit in a set of push up each day, but the rest of my body needs some serious work. I’m not getting any younger. If I want to age the way I want, be fit, look good in my clothes and treat myself to the occasional indulgence at birthdays and Christmas, I have to commit to exercise once more.

I did okay exercising at home but since my children dropped all their daytime naps it’s been a struggle. My little girl joins her brother at pre-school two days a week from next week. These will be my gym days, with the rest of the week taken up with my usual attempts at home to tide me over.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to use up my first child-free days in five years with gym visits, but it will be worth it to reach my goal. I thought I might use the days to write, to relax, to work, but I can always do that after the gym right (after getting a proper haircut and doing the grocery shopping without the kids asking me to buy them everything within reach).

I know the first month will be difficult. I’m not very good with fatigue, pain and effort but I KNOW I CAN DO IT!!!! Do I sound gym-junkie enough?

There are some rules though and I plan to stick to them strictly.

My gym is located at my local shopping centre. I will not shop in gym clothes. I will pack a bag, get changed there, shower and get dressed after. I will not drop the kids off at school or pick them up in gym clothes either! I will not have a big cafe lunch after my workout. This will completely defeat the purpose. I will eat a protein bar straight away before grocery shopping. I can have a skim cappuccino if I like but I like to save my coffees for when I get the kids. My little boy is very attached to his babycinos. I didn’t realise how much until we didn’t go for a couple of weeks and he launched an official protest.

I will become a member but I have to go TWO DAYS A WEEK AT LEAST, while the kids are all in school. But if they are sick I won’t pressure myself to make it up or give up. I’ll keep going back. I’ll persevere.

Once I reach my goal and am no longer being punish for my weekend indulgences, I will keep it up.

I won’t spend hundreds of dollars on designer work out clothes because I won’t be shopping in them. My old nasty work out clothes will do fine although I’ll need shoes. I’ll find some on sale.

Okay, so these are the ground rules. I’m actually feeling pretty excited. Knowing my food is sorted I feel like I’ll get the most out of my workouts. Even if I move my Lite n’ Easy afternoon snack to my morning snack and have the morning snack in the afternoon. Whatever. This is going to work. I can feel it.

Gosh, it’s hard to find time for yourself when you’re a mum, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I loved being there for them but now that they are onto the next phase, I’ll move to the next phase too. And we’ll all be happier for it!

La Dolce Vita,

Jo Abi

Getting better with age

27 Nov

Have you even stopped and thought, “Gosh I love my life?” That’s how I feel today. I am having one of those days (weeks in fact) where I am experiencing the perfect balance of work, family and weight-loss. I’m 58 once again (it’s not my goal weight but it will do for over Christmas/New Years), I am doing some amazingly fun and fulfilling writing work from home while my little girl plays with her new playdough in the next room and I just received a phone call about another work opportunity – and next week I get to sit in and observe one of my radio idols doing his thing. 

And tonight I have family coming over for dinner (I haven’t seen them in AGES). It’s absolute perfection.

Now…how to hang on to this feeling and enjoy every part of it without psyching myself out. I want to enjoy all of this and make the most of it. I don’t want to self-destruct, second-guess myself or sabotage myself as I sometimes do when I feel overwhelmed or un-deserving. I want to live it and love it. How????

When I was in my twenties I was overweight, then I wasn’t but I was too naive and aggressive in how I pursued my dreams and I didn’t quite know who I was yet so I came across as inauthentic.

Now I know exactly who I am, I love life but I’m at an age where most women feel like the clock is ticking on fulfilling their dreams. And even before I secure myself my dream job I am already worried about the impact my goals will have on my family. But I deserve to be happy too, don’t I? I just want a great job and plenty of time with my kids. I don’t want to have to choose one or the other.

The difficult choice is turning out to be which career to pursue – the one that pays the most, the one that requires the least hours or the one I enjoy the most?


All I know that now that I am in my late thirties I am more than willing to fight for the life I want and I won’t let anyone (even myself) guilt me into not having it. I love my life, my family and my work and I want it all. Yes there will be days when it will be difficult but it will be worth it. Because by fighting for the life I want I am teaching my children to fight for the life they want and if I’m happy, I’m a much better mother.

Thanks to Lite n Easy I am now a reasonable weight again and my goal now is to maintain the weight over Christmas and New Years. I have put in a massive order for soups (Pumpkin and Chicken) because they are so healthy and filling and I will navigate family functions (of which there are many) to the best of my ability.

In my experience, there’s nothing a Lite n Easy soup dinner can’t fix. If I’ve over-eaten that day I have a soup for lunch or dinner and I pretty much get through the day without a total disaster (like not fitting into my clothes!).

Ahh, the possibilites are endless, the food is plenty and the challenges are ongoing but I’m ready.

La Dolce Vita,

Jo Abi

Feast or famine…but never normal eating…

25 Nov

I am suffering from a MAJOR food hangover, so bad that I haven’t been able to write this post until now (2pm), even though I have been up at work and thinking about it since 5am. I am so sick because I over-ate to the extreme last night at a family function. Why why why do I do this to myself.

I’d been on the full Lite n easy summer program for the past two weeks and doing really well, so my body wasn’t ready to be slammed with the rich food I shoved in my gob. I can’t remember everything I ate but it went something like this:

2 glasses of coke

2 glasses of lemonade

1 small glass of champagne

A bread roll

Marinaded vegetables




Two rice croquettes




Sugared almonds

An almond biscuit


I’m sweating just thinking about it!

I know why I did it. I know why I over-eat every time I do it and it’s usually because I am upset about something. Last night I was really upset that my husband wasn’t going to make it to the function. He was stuck at work. I understood why he couldn’t make it but he’s always worked jobs that prevent him from attending many family events. I worry that it’s because he doesn’t really want to come with me. But this is what I dreamed about when I was younger – having a family of my own, attending family functions together…but it’s always just me and the kids. We do okay but he just isn’t around when I want him to be. He’s always worked long and irregular hours and while I admire his work ethic, it also makes me sad that we are missing out on this time together. And my family is always so loving and understanding which made me want to cry even more.

So while I explained that he couldn’t make it to my family members I chowed down and ate my sadness, my disappointment and my longing. Oh, I just remembered I ate fruit too.

Now this morning I am paying a price for my gluttony. My stomach is a cement mixer. I had trouble sleeping. I am nauseous. It’s a total food hangover and I have nobody to blame but myself.

My family always puts on a good spread of food and it’s always so fun…I could have been more controlled. I could have had chicken and salad and then ONE cannoli with coffee. But no – I had to turn it into a sport and stuff myself to the gills.

I’m just starting to feel better now. I’ve had a few sips of water and some oat bran (to help my stomach start functioning again).

I’m frustrated that whenever I think I’ve stopped eating my feelings I do it again (which is probably why I will be a lifetime customer of Lite n Easy). So I’m not eating my Lite n Easy food today – I couldn’t if I tried.

Now here’s what’s changed…instead of feeling upset and doing this every day I will stop, press reset, and start again tomorrow.

It was such a great night. I just love family functions. They are without a doubt my favourite thing to do (as opposed to when I was little and complained openly about boredom).

So, the important question today is – was the cannoli worth it? Was it? Damn straight it was…until next time.

La Dolce Vita,

Jo Abi



My bumps, my bumps, my lovely lady lumps

20 Nov

I feel amazing. I woke up this morning feeling all sorts of fabulous which is very rare for a school day.

I’ve been on the full Lite n Easy program now for six days and I am waking up faster, I’m less hungry and I just feel great. I feel like I’m in control.

We underestimate the effect our health has on all parts of our lives. Everything from taking the kids to their activities, to grocery shopping, to cleaning the house, to working is easier because I feel like the responsibility for my health isn’t all down to me. I have some help and all I have to do is open up the packages and eat the food. And the food is so delicious that sometimes I wonder if it is a real diet. Then I weigh myself and it is confirmed. Lite n Easy works as well as it always has, even now that I am almost fifteen years older than when I first used the full program.

I was feeling so virtuous today that I decided to give up coffee too. I am so healthy, I am eating so well, I am lighter, my jeans are fitting better. I thought I’d tackle my only vice – coffee. I don’t drink or smoke so my life revolves around coffee and I structue my day around it. But I am in control of the rest of my diet. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel like I could take or leave coffee and release the strangle-hold it has over me.

I lasted until 2pm. To my credit that’s two hours longer than I usually last when I try and give up coffee (I usually crack at noon but often give it up when I wake up, only to stop the attempt within thirty minutes). Coffee doesn’t have to be fattening (thank you Splenda) and it has been shown to prevent alzheimer’s. I don’t want alzheimer’s disease now do I. And coffee has also been shown to speed up your metabolism. Yay.

So bring on the coffee. A skim latte is DA BOMB! And I’d really be doing a dis-service to my favourite cafe if I stop going. I’m nothing if not loyal. I don’t want to offend them. Chai what?

My health is improving, I’ve accepted my coffee addiction and my excerise is progressing (most days I’m struggle to get out of bed with sore muscles but that’s the price we pay).

And pulling my once tight jeans on and being able to breathe is a luxury.

My weekly delivery arrives tomorrow and I’ve just been through the menu. THE DOUBLE CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE is on my menu for the week. I’m yet to sample this because it usually comes with a beef lunch and I don’t eat beef. I am dying already. A diet that involves cake is not a diet – it is a gift from the Lord above.

I would sing a hymn but I really can’t sing. I’ll just moan instead. Mmmm, mmmmm, chocolate cake.

Vegemite, so wrong yet so right

19 Nov

Dear Lite n Easy,

Thank you thank you thank you for giving me Vegemite toast for breakfast today. I had a rather challenging weekend and Vegemite was the food-hug I needed on a Monday morning.

Every Monday morning I wake up wondering how I will get everything done for the week. Swimming lessons, karate, school, homework, uniforms, laundry, grocery shopping…forget the fact that I need to squeeze in exercising, dressing myself and all the selfish things I do for myself (may I please use the toilet in private just once!).

Surrounded by Vegemite love and fueled by coffee we were all having a great morning. The kids washed and brushed their without too much fuss, the house was reasonably tidy (my husband did housework yesterday – rare but welcome) and we were on time for school.

In between school drop offs I popped into Coles to buy cordial for my husband (don’t drink your calories!) and I saw that the latest Women’s Weekly magazine was out. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s the little things in life that keep us happy I think. Healthy kids, a box of mangoes, a new magazine, sunshine, Vegemite!

Once again I have split my breakfast and have saved my Honey Muesli Flakes for morning tea with my mega-juicy orange.

Chicken and vegetable risotto for lunch, choc nut mix for afternoon tea…this is going to be a great day.

This is Day 5 of Lite n Easy and I am over the very hungry stage and now I just feel lighter, more energetic, cleaner, in control, happy.

This is what people mean when they say it isn’t just about the weight. My body is functioning better, more efficiently, I’m enjoying my food more, I feel happier, my clothes are fitting me better. It’s a really good time of the year to do Lite n Easy because you’ll learn about portion size ahead of Christmas, a time when grabbing handfuls of snacks mindlessly is common and over-eating expected.

My sisters and I always try to maintain over Christmas. If we can maintain our weight, it’s been a good festive season.

La Dolce Vita,

Jo Abi


One kilo gone!

18 Nov

I always have to remind myself not to get too excited at the dramatic weight loss that occurs when you first start the full program of Lite n Easy. Too be honest I’m finding it a little difficult to adjust to the hunger and massive mint chocolate cravings, so much so that when I confirmed I was down to 59 kilos I was like…hell yeah! But the weight loss will slow and remain steady until I reach my goal. I think the amount of exercise I’m doing isn’t helping because it makes me very hungry. So, drinking heaps of water seems to be helping.

I think I’ll go to my grave struggling with body image because I’m at a weight that many Australian women would consider a goal. I should be happy with how I am. I keep thinking about my most beautiful friend who is so tiny and complains about her weight. I love her but I will slap her upside the head if she once more pinches her skin and claims muffin top. If I showed her mine she’d run screaming out of the office (past weight meets three pregnancies).

I was speaking with another friend about body image and we were wondering why we can’t just love ourselves the way we are. We compliment each other but can’t compliment ourselves. The voice in our heads is a total judgmental bitch. What the? If I heard someone talking to a friend or family member the way I sometimes speak to myself I’d be screaming in their face, running them off, demanding they never insult someone so badly again.

I work most Sundays and it’s days like today that Lite n Easy makes life so much easier. I am working what is affectionately called a ‘double shift’ which means I start at 5am and finish at 7pm. I grabbed my Day 5 bags, a dinner (Tortilla Stack thank you very much) and headed out the door, in the darkness, wishing I was still in bed. It isn’t even 6am and I have eaten part of my breakfast – the berry wheat bites and I expected them to disintegrate in the milk ala Weetbix but they held their shape, which I loved. Yum, yum, yum. I nice sugary hit to start the day and I am becoming a big fan of dried fruit in any Lite n Easy meal or snack because its chewy and yummy.

My lunch is the chicken burger, popcorn for a snack…I am set for the day. The popcorn is just what I want to snack on at work and I can make it last, and last and last plus it will make me thirsty.

When I work I don’t get to exercise properly so I run up and down the stairs. I have designed a circuit where I run up and down the stairs 10 times, then do pushups, situps and triceps. I do this several times across the course of the day. At my age (37 in January) it’s all about muscle tone.

I keep reminding myself that this is how I am meant to eat. If you want to be smaller you have to adjust to less food. Then, once you get to your goal you can eat a little more, keep up your exercise and all will be well. I honestly couldn’t stand it if I had to count calories and figure out how to make chicken breast taste good at the moment. If I focus too much on food it’s even harder. The trick is to eat and then go off and live your life. Try to stop thinking about food. At my fattest I’d would still be eating lunch when I’d be planning my snack. LIFE ISN’T MEANT TO REVOLVE AROUND FOOD. Food is fuel and it helps if it tastes great. Once you’ve eaten, get off your butt, take the kids to the park, go for a walk, lie down in the sun and read a book (while the kids jump on the trampoline and play with water). Do a project around your house (I am cleaning out cupboards at the moment). Watch a movie, paint your nails, start sorting out Christmas decorations. And relax, breath…you are in control and Lite n Easy is holding your hand saying, there there, don’t you worry your pretty little head, we’ve taken care of everything for you…

So that’s it for today. May the force be with you…

La Dolce Vita,

Jo Abi


Stopping an addiction is like lifting a sheet from a mirror

15 Nov

Stopping an addiction is like lifting a sheet from a mirror and looking yourself in the eye shouting, “Who are you! Who are you?”

I make quite a few questionable choices in my life (getting married before dating many/any others, starting a new uni course with three children under ten) and beginning a new eating plan on the day FOUR major university assignments are due is another clunker on my part.

I am feeling every single little bit of stress, worry, uncertainty and doubt that comes with completing an assignment and sending it off to be judged, marked and assessed by someone who doesn’t factor you feelings into the process. Times that by four. And being a Creative Writing course, I feel like the very base of my existence (expressing myself through words) is being judged. You, Jo are a FAIL, a PASS, a CREDIT, a DISTINCTION, a HIGH DISTINCTION. Not my work, me.

I have friends who have dealt with addictions. I use food to control/numb my feelings. Friends have used food, alcohol, drugs, sex, work. I’ve read about people who pull their eyelashes out, who chew their nails. We all have something we do. No-one has their shit together as much as they want you to believe.

Laying yourself bare without a crutch is the ultimate act of bravery because you do have to face every single moment of your life both good and bad, happy and sad, bored and exciting. You can’t eat badly forever, you can’t get drunk every night, you can’t use drugs for a prolonged period of time, you can’t travel forever (or can you?).

I’ve always thought that you have to be happy on your own, with no crutches before you can bring your best to a long-term relationship, parenthood, even to your choice of career. Do you constantly fill your days with busy-work? Can you sit still? Can you enjoy a long conversation with a friend? Can you disagree with your partner without it becoming a deal-breaker?

My husband changed from night-shift to day-shift this week and forgot to tell me. I know. Stoopid. He does this. He tells me everything except the part I really need to know. There I am expecting him at 1pm so I can go to work and he’s not due until 6pm. To say I lost it is an understatement but after I had a go at him on the phone I was over it. It was what it was. He arrived home, we moved on. He didn’t feel the need to feel hurt and I didn’t feel the need to eat an entire bag of chocolate bullets (should licorice be eaten any other way?).

The Lite n Easy macaroni cheese is as divine as it always has been.It was my dinner and my eating is done for the day. That’s it. No stress-eating allowed. I know, mac and cheese isn’t a typical weight loss food but at the risk of repeating myself or sounding like a walking billboard, Lite n Easy teaches you how to eat normally without feeling deprived. You’ll be a bit hungry than usual for the first few days but you’ll quickly adjust.

I have sent in two of my assignments, I have almost finished the third and then the biggest assignment, the worst, will see me staying up until way to close to midnight editing editing editing. It’s due before midnight. My hands are about to spasm, as they did when I wrote my first (and only) book. I can do it, I can  do it, I can do it (WITHOUT MINT CHOCOLATE).

La Dolce Vita,

Jo Abi

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