Mondayitis

So, it is Monday, and my computer is fixed (well, slightly resurrected), thanks to my whole hearted dork of a boyfriend who I love very much in all his tech-geek glory.

You know what else is amazing about the fixing of my computer? I don’t have to miss my regular Mondayitis post, and I get to continue cheering up your retched Monday mornings with fabulous fashion finds and artfully amazing alliterations.

To make up for my week of absence I’m not going to tell you one Monday morning must have, no no no. I am going to bombard you with five. You heard me, five! Five things that you need (yes, need), not only to cheer up the start of your week, but to keep you chirpy all summer long.

Ah, summer, can you smell it? That my friends is the whiff of a new season! Yes, all that pining after summer collections is starting to pay off as new seasons are hitting stores.

So, the trends that I think will last all summer? The fashion hits that will still be tip top in a few months time (yes, fashion is a fickle and fast game)?

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Get your mitts on any of these babies and not only will your Monday take a turn for the better, your summer season will look pretty damn good too.

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My senile feline MacBook Pro.

So, I am having some serious first world problems right now. Not only have my all time favourite runners called it quits, I’m having a seriously bad hair day and when I went to try The Fed, the latest and most awesome new restaurant in Auckland (I hear), it was shut. But also, my beautiful and loyal Mac Book Pro has kicked the bucket. She has been a slow machine for a while (and yes Dad, I have backed it up, wiped it, rebooted and deleted my 10648 emails), but it seems, much like a senile feline, she is mostly good for just sitting there and looking pretty.

Therefore I’m writing this to tell you I have some AMAZING things to say to you people and many continued ingenious anecdotes from my life, so please bare with me as I attempt to figure out how exactly to fill your lives with my wonderful words!

Until then, follow me on Instagram (isobelmasters) or Twitter (@IsobelMasters) to keep up your fashion fitness and food fix.

A week of noms (and runs).

As I said I would, last week I took a photo of literally every morsel I shoved into my little mouth. No snack was undocumented and no meal ignored. I did however skip taking pictures of the numerous cups of tea and water that washed everything down. I also noted down my exercise because, to me, those two things go hand in hand. So, here is what a week of my food (and movements) looks like…

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Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach Snacks Green tea, Peppermint tea, A small handful of raw almonds, Green tea Lunch 5 x Homemade crackers with left over roast chicken, fresh parsley, avocado, cucumber and iceberg lettuce on top, plus some carrot sticks on the side (about half a carrot), Earl Grey tea Exercise Run (recovery after Sundays long run, 6k) Dinner Baked salmon with mashed swede, broccoli, garlic leeks and a sprinkling of pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and fresh parsley. Dessert Natural yoghurt (full fat) with roasted almonds, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds and a sprinkle of cinnamon Snack 1 x Homemade cracker with a teaspoon of almond butter

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Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach with green tea Snacks Small handful of mixed nuts (roasted and lightly salted) Lunch Leftover veggies from last night (leeks, swede and broccoli) with 4 x homemade crackers and chicken Snacks Peppermint tea, Handful of raw walnuts Dinner Roast chicken with roast carrots, parsnip, pumpkin, beetroot and onion with blanched beans and homemade gravy Dessert Chia pudding (homemade with chai seeds, almond milk, cinnamon and vanilla powder) with cacao nibs, almonds and roasted coconut flakes

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Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach Snacks English breakfast tea, Flat white (full fat milk) Lunch Left over roast dinner from last night Snacks 4 x Homemade crackers, 2 x Crisp crackers with cheese and just hummus Exercise Bikram (90 minutes) Dinner Blackened chicken with kumera chips, coleslaw and homemade sesame dressing (mustard, yoghurt, toasted sesame seeds)

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Exercise 4k run and 40 minutes of weight training Breakfast A poached egg on a bed of peas and fresh spinach with Snacks Peppermint tea, Green tea Lunch Leftover chicken, kumera chips and coleslaw Snacks Peppermint tea, 4 x homemade crackers, Green tea, Cup of seeds with almonds, walnuts and coconut chips all roasted and tossed with lots of cinnamon (because I work late every Thursday night I pack extra snacks with me. Not only do I eat dinner later, but having something to munch on keeps me away from all the chips, lollies and chocolate that come out around deadline time) Dinner Homemade paleo pizza with asparagus, tomato, chicken, spinach and leeks

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Breakfast Paprika scrambled eggs with spinach on peas and avocado, Peppermint tea Lunch Leftover paleo pizza with rocket and tomatoes Snacks 2x Handfuls of raw peanuts, 2 x Homemade crackers, Peppermint tea Exercise Run (outdoor, 8k), 4o minute weight training Dinner Homemade salmon tart with spinach and cherry tomatoes with a side of leeks and asparagus

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Breakfast Kumera hash cakes with poached egg and mushrooms, Peppermint tea Exercise 50 minute weight training Snack Small protein shake (nuzest powder with almond milk) Lunch Leftover salmon tart with side salad Dinner (at Orphans Kitchen) Flaxseed sourdough with burnt butter, Brussels sprout salad and goats cheese, Gnocchi with hazelnuts sage and a poached egg, Kumera chips, Boiled boar with dough dumplings and swede Midnight Snack Peppermint tea, Cheese and crackers

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Breakfast Kumera hash cakes with spinach, mushrooms peas, fresh spinach and a poached egg, Earl Grey tea Exercise Run (outdoor, 18k) Lunch Homemade crackers with homemade hummus, cucumber, tomatoes and carrot sticks, English breakfast tea and cows milk Dinner Roast chicken with roast onions, pumpkin and parsnip Dessert Roasted almonds, walnuts, cashews and coconut flakes with full fat natural yoghurt, Peppermint Tea

Hopefully through this 7 day documentation you can see that I eat a simple, clean but varied diet (with large quantities of nuts, ridiculously large) and that it is healthy. I don’t feel that I deny myself a thing. The boy and I also don’t let it stop us going out (hello Orphans Kitchen), and we don’t stick to our paleo ways all the time (I know you spotted all that sneaky, sneaky dairy in there).

I’m now 24 days through my 42 days (or six weeks) of detoxing and, unless someone is cruelly eating a block of chocolate in front of my face (and cackling), I don’t even think about it. I barely miss it (except when my mind wonders to that cronut I’m yet to try). And I’m really surprised by how easy this entire thing has become.

So, if you want to give clean eating, or paleo or sugar free a go, or if you just want to make health conscious choices when it comes to your food, here are my top tips.

  • Plan and organize your meals, but throw in some exciting new recipes each week to keep food fun.
  • Make sure you plan for snacks too (nuts, homemade crackers or carrot sticks are my favourites).
  • Shop the perimeter of the supermarket (except for a quick nip into the aisles for your all important weekly magazine, New Idea).
  • Read the labels of EVERYTHING you’re buying. Even if you aren’t doing sugar free, take ownership of what you are putting into your body and know what is in your food. (I’m yet to find bacon, salmon, stock or shredded chicken in the supermarket that doesn’t have added sugar, to name a few.)
  • The internet is your friend (well hello there friend), use it to help you get pumped for new foods, recipes or quirky ingredients (like the amazing chia seeds).

I found it really interesting to document my food last week, in fact I loved it so much that I missed it today. So, I downloaded a food diary app that stores photos too! It’s pretty much an app like the above photos (called MealLogger). Although I believe this is a completely honest idea of what I eat in a week, I do think I tended to snack slightly less (if you can possibly believe that from the vast amount of snacks documented) because I could SEE that I really didn’t need them. It could be a really simple way for someone to watch what he or she eats (quite literally).

OR you could just instagram everything and piss off your friends*.

*I joke about this, but am painstakingly aware I do it myself, I also post too many picture of my cat. But who doesn’t love a furry feline clogging up their feed? Crazy people, that’s who.

Mondayitis

Do you know what is better than snuggling up on the couch with a cuppa, a cosy jumper and an episode of Big Bang Theory*? Snuggling up on the couch with a cuppa, a cosy jumper WITH A CAT PRINTED ON IT and an episode of Big Bang Theory. In fact everything in life should probably have a cat embroidered on it somewhere, because life is just better with cats.

My slight obsession (read: worrying problem) with kitty clothing began when I fell in love with the infamous Kenzo jumper  (yes, yes, I know its not technically a cat, but it’s in the feline family and its an amazing chic/cute hybrid). So, it really hasn’t been around too long, but much like my love of peppermint tea and bikram yoga, I’m pretty sure this short fling will blossom into a full grown (life long) love affair.

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I’m not high maintenance; I love and except all forms of cat-wear. But, of all the possible things that one can adorn with a cat (and there are many, I just goggled it), my favourite has to be the jumper. Preferably over-sized and almost unbearably warm.

So this Monday, I’m embracing my inner five year old and lust after any of these gorgeous numbers to cure my blues.

* Don’t judge me, Big Bang Theory is awesome. And the boy is into physics, so I’m pretty convinced I am in fact Penny, without the failing acting career, and he is my Leonard, without the stunted growth and lactose issues. Other than that, we are pretty much exactly the same people! Duh.

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Left: Asos, Middle: Asos, Right: Forever 21

Foodie inspiration with Rachel McAdams and Zefron.

FoodyFinds

One of the best resources for keeping up a healthy diet and eating sugar free/paleo/really any health kick you are on? It’s the Internet of course. With a world of blogs, ebooks and online magazines it’s crazy to think people can’t find healthy noms. Here are a few places that I always head back to:

Petite Kitchen This is my favourite recipe resource, created by a like minded Kiwi girl (who I actually went to high school with). It isn’t specifically paleo or sugar free, but it is very clean and organic, and her simple recipes can be easily adapted to suit most dietary requirements. This talented cook is also coming out with her own cookbook soon and I can’t wait!

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I Quit Sugar The blog is a great recourse for some of Sarah’s more common recipes (like her tasty raspberry ripple), it’s also good for people giving up the white stuff as it is filled with great articles and support.

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PaleoOMG & Elena’s Panty The ingredients in both these blogs can sometimes be a little tricky to find in little old NZ, but can usually be adapted. These websites are so filled with recipes it’s impossible not to find something you would love.

As well as those, I usually have a collection of cookbooks around me to tantalise my taste buds and keep the inspiration following, like It’s All Good by Gwyneth, Eat Your Veg by Arthur Potts Dawson and Dr’ Libby’s Real Food Chef by Dr Libby Weaver.

To be honest, it’s unusual that I follow a recipe straight up. I use these as guides, ideas and starting points to play with my own flavours. The Boy quite likes to stick to recipes, so together we can butt heads in the kitchen, but it usually evolves into a nice balance. Often, my theory in the kitchen is more is more. (Actually, in every part of my life really. More shoes? Yes! More dessert? Of course! More Zac Efron? Duh!) So I tend to make little things that are packed with flavour. People often think that healthy equals bland, and my experience is the complete opposite. By trying to source the most amazing, fresh and clean ingredients I tend to find that the meals I sit down to eat are screaming with flavour. Never underestimate the punch fresh herbs or extra garlic can give your food.

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The idea that finding a “clean” recipe is hard is absolutely ridiculous. It isn’t even a case of knowing where to find them, it’s a case of googling. Good hot words for googling recipes are paleo, sugar-free and clean. Healthy can be good, but do make sure to double-check the sources that are claiming health. (I once found a ”super nutritious and healthy” chocolate cake recipe. Sure, it had some grated beetroot, but it also had 3 cups of sugar, refined white flower, nearly a block of butter and countless other ingredients that are best kept to a minimum. That’s kind of like grating some carrot onto your candyfloss and calling it a salad.) Using these buzzwords should help you find recipes that are free of packaged/added/chemical anything (yay).

So, get out there, check out these places, look at your recipe books and have a play. Changing up your diet is in no way a shackle to restrain your palette, but an invitation to play, to experiment and to push those boundaries.

Do I sound as corny as a Rachel McAdams movie? Good. I love her movies.

Small legs, inner voices and the point of it all.

I have a big run coming up. A very big run. It’s the Auckland half marathon.

I’m not going to pussy foot around here, I’m terrified. Completely terrified.

In six weeks I have to run 21.1ks, and I’m pretty sure I can’t do it. I know everyone says to keep positive, but I’m not one of those crazy people who can just do stuff like this. I was never the athletic kid at school. Hell, I barely moved. Have you seen the length of my legs? (I am aware that you probably haven’t – let me tell you this, they are small.) I’m pretty sure me running a half marathon, is the same effort as an average heighted guy running the full shebang. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Anyway, I am petrified. Because six weeks is really not long at all to get myself to the point that I want to be to do this race.

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And that point? I want to be able to run the entire thing, and I want to do it in 2 hours and 30 minutes, or under. Preferably quite a lot less than 2 hours 30 minutes, but I am trying to keep my goals achievable (and my legs still attached to my body).

I’ve told myself the only way I would be able to mentally (let alone physically) do this challenge is if I run the entire 21.1k distance before hand. (Like a couple of weeks before hand, not like just before, that’s called a full marathon. That’s a different challenge, for a different day. A day so, so far in the future that it’s a teeny tiny dot.) I know plenty of people say that as long as you can run 16k you can run a half marathon because the rest of the kilometers on the day come from adrenaline – well screw those people. When the little voice inside my head starts freaking the hell out come race day, the only way I can possibly think to calm it down, is to say “you CAN do this, because you HAVE done this.” And even then, I am pretty sure it will still be screaming bloody Mary.

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On the weekend I ran 18k. (Except I swear that sounds too far, I kept checking my watch and my paranoid head thought that it may have been reading something wrong. Imagine that! Doing all this training and gearing up only to find that when you thought you had run 18k you had actually run 9 and your GPS watch was being a dick.) On that 18k I stopped, I stopped for water breaks, leg stretches and a couple of times I stopped because I had to talk to myself (yes, in public) and literally will my legs to keep moving. So I don’t even know, with all the stopping, if it counts as a full run! But the real kicker with this run? It was on the flat. Like complete flat, and the first thing anyone has said to me about the Auckland Marathon is “oh, have you been doing hill training? Because you need to”, WELL NO I HAVEN’T BUT THANKS FOR ADDING MORE UNDERLINES TO THE WORDS FREAK OUT THAT ARE FLASHING IN MY BRAIN RIGHT NOW.

So, in the next six weeks I have to get out there and run hills, and I have to run longer and I have to run faster and I have to just keep going.

I’m not sure, but I think I might be a bit nervous. Maybe even freaking out a little?

Fuck.

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All images from Pinterest

Food week; Spontaneity? Fun? Nope, just a crap load of eating.

I used to scoff at the idea of pre-planning my weekly meals. I thought it would somehow remove the romance from my evening, the spontaneity, the fun. Then it hit me, on weeknights there is no fun! The spontaneity of not knowing what to cook isn’t romantic, it’s annoying. That blank stare into the fridge is soul destroying (or perhaps something slightly less dramatic) and since I’ve started planning my meals, not only am I eating ridiculously healthy, I spend a lot less time in the kitchen wondering what to do and a lot more time eating tasty food. And if you haven’t picked up on this already, eating is my favourite thing to do. Anything to make it easier is a win in my eyes.

Sure, it means I usually know what I’ll be eating all week, and I guess there is a part of it that can feel a little unadventurous, but most weeks the boy and I do try to chuck in a couple of new recipes found on the internet or in one of our many cookbooks. So we can knuckle down and experiment with something new.

So, every Sunday we sit down and decide what we want to eat during the week. Every dinner meal is different and is usually a combo of something new we want to give a go, something we’ve recently tried and loved (our latest buzz is paleo pizza), and great classics that are always tasty (like roast dinner). We figure it out so that on the days we have workouts planned after work our meals are quick (to avoid just giving in and getting take out), and at the beginning of the week we have things that could make up a few tasty lunches.

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From that, we create a shopping list and off we go!

I remember once reading the “shop the perimeter” diet guide and thinking how odd it was, but it’s pretty much all I do now. For those of you that haven’t heard of it, it is an idea that shopping only perimeter of the supermarket will keep you health on track. It tends to mean that you hit up the veggie/fruit, meat/fish and dairy areas of the supermarket (usually around the outside) and avoiding the packages foods (middle aisles). It’s completely unintentional, but 90% of our list is ticked off before we even leave the fruit and veggie section. We skirt around the edges for some fish and meat and mostly the inside aisles are ignored apart from the spices, nuts and tea (oh, and the magazines of course – skipping them would be madness). We don’t have much use for the rest of it. We make a quick stop at the dairy near the end, I mostly drink Almond milk, but the boy still has cows milk, and we have a bit of yoghurt and cheese (not together, ew) and we stock up of frozen peas and eggs (pretty much our breakfast every day). So this is what our usually trolley looks like…

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I love knowing what’s for dinner. I love knowing that everything I need is tucked away waiting for me (well, the boy) to get started the second I get home. When the day is dragging and the minutes feel like hours I love being able to think ‘t-8 hours until amazing nut crusted salmon straight from the oven’. It gets me excited. Almost as excited as a new pair of shoes.

Wow. I’m such a food freak.

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Monayitis

The other week, in little old Auckland, it was New Zealand fashion week. I didn’t really comment on it, mostly because I found it a fairly unremarkable (which is a damn shame, because I think New Zealand has some really amazing things to offer the world of fashion). One show I did enjoy however, was Coop.

Coop is a diffusion range by kiwi designer Trelise Cooper, it’s younger, more vibrant and sometimes even a touch more affordable. Her collection for fashion week was wildly varied with bright pleather boxy dresses, neck cuffs, harem shorts, fluffy hot pants and an insanely gorgeous magenta coat. Some disagree, but I love a collection with pieces that come from all walks of earth. When a designer has been so strict to the “aesthetic of the collection” that all they show is 5 different cuts in different prints or colours, I feel a little (or a lot) ripped off. Coop was very far from that. There was something for any one, at any occasion.

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All images by Foureyes.

You know what really gets my goat about fashion week though? You have to wait. It seems like torture to parade beautiful pieces of clothing in front of you, and they won’t even be in the shops for months and months. Not good for a materialistic, instantly gratified ladies like me.

To quieten my inner voice screaming “YOU NEED THAT COAT, MAGENTA GOES WITH EVERYTHING AND THIS SUMMER WILL DEFINITELY BE COLD ENOUGH” (it won’t be), I looked at Coop’s summer collection to see if there was anything I could sink my teeth into. And you know what? There was!

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This skort (yes this is a skort, the hypothetical baby if a skirt and pair of shorts were lovers) reminds me of when I was a kid. A terribly misguided kid who wore Pocahontas leggings, skorts, bike shorts (when not on a bike) and then trend that has (fingers crossed) died a decent death, trousers skirts*.

This delicate pink, waffle cotton skort will not only give me my Coop hit (and hopefully quieten my inner fashion junkie) it may also go some way in repenting the fashion sins of a kid. So, this Monday, to cure not only my Monday morning blues, but also to rid myself of fashion guilt (similar to Catholic guilt, but with more shoes) and to dull the pangs of magenta coat lusting, these Coop skorts are all that will do.

Not sure how I will make up for the trousers skirts though.

*What is with the 90’s and combining things with skirts? Why can a skirt not just be a skirt? Man, I really do breach worlds toughest questions in this blog.

Kicking the habit: snaps for Ally.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I have some amazing people around me. In the wake of my sugar detox decision, friends and family have been supportive (the boy has even started to drastically cut back too). There have been many questions about the reasons behind my latest life choice, yet I haven’t come across someone who is strongly against my decision. (Side note; having said this there continues to be a murmur of confusion. People seem baffled at the idea of what I can eat if I am cutting out sugar. They seem fixated on the list of no-go foods and blind to the variety I actually consume, they think I’m living on a diet of steamed veggies. Believe me confused ones, there is a lot more on my dinner plate than that.) Over a rather lovely girlie catch up the other night, my dear friend Ally, who has chosen to take this journey with me, told me of her first experience of and hater. Someone who effectively told her off for her choices, simply because they didn’t agree. By the sounds of Ally’s accounts, this hater didn’t even come from a place of education and was blindly wading into an argument without having read the books or done the research Ally had. Well that’s just kind of like doing a university project without and references – instant fail. It is also kind of like a pretty crap move on the friend front.

Luckily, Sarah Wilson (author of I Quit Sugar) has an entire chapter on what to do when you come across a creature like this. She writes rebuts to the most common arguments like “but sugar is natural” (she suggests we come back with “indeed it is, but so is petroleum and arsenic”). Or “cutting out fruit? That’s ridiculous” with arguments like “fruit contains fructose. And fructose is fructose no matter what package it comes in”. It’s also worth noting that fruit is not demonized by Sarah, it is merely avoided in the detox period to help you and your body re-balance, and also to remind yourself that, although nutritious, fruit does contain sugar and should be munched on mindfully.

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The argument that most people have being “we need sugar” is a little hard to retort with a one liner. But what I will say is this; Make sure you know what sugar you’re talking about. Table sugar is made up of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Glucose is in everything we eat. It’s pretty much energy. It is what our body and brain run off. We clearly need that, and as long as we are eating we are getting it in some form or another. The sugar being avoided in this detox is fructose. It is found in a lot of things, but most notably in table sugar, HFCS (mostly in America), agave, honey and fruit to name a few.

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The truth is, as with everything, moderation is the key. But the unfortunate reality is that we are not being moderate with our fructose intake. We are over consuming by the bucket load. It’s fine to have a small hit of fructose as much as everyday, but modern foods don’t give us that. Look at that label on your cereal/porridge/tea/tinned tomatoes/stock/everything you eat in a day. Seriously look at it. And before those numbers fade into your brain, absorb that 4.2g grams of sugar is 1 teaspoon. Visualize it. Count up through out the day how much sugar you are consuming. And yes the teaspoons in that orange juice counts just as much as the in that coke. Moderation is the key and it is why I (and many others) am starting to take the control, the moderating, into my own hands. If we want to eat sugar, we want it to be on our terms, with our knowledge and to be 100% aware that it’s occurring, so we can stand up and count it. We don’t want it to be sneaking in the side door cloaked with words like “all natural”.

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Sure this detox is extreme, and I won’t pretend it isn’t. But surely the fact that sugar in our diet has increased drastically in the last 100 years (the average person in the US consumes 150 pounds of sugar per year–compared to just 7 ½ pounds consumed on average in the year 1700. That’s 20 times as much) is far more extreme.

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All above images from pinterest.

Basically this post is a rant, a rant to people who think that the best way to approach other I Quit Sugar peeps, attempting to make steps to a healthier life, is to put them down.

So, mostly for the haters, but also a little for the confusers who only hear the cant’s and ignore the cans, I’m going to document everything I eat this week. In fact, I declare next week – food week! I will give you the inside scoop on how I like to pre-plan, what goes into my weekly trolley and what wonderfully scrumptious meals I get to eat.

I can, hand on heart, say that I’ve never eaten so well, so varied and so creatively. With the boundaries I’ve set, and the experiments I’ve started to do with my diet in the last few months, it has really challenged me to think outside the square. To push my go-to dishes and to create wholesome and nutritious food. And I’m loving it.

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I dare you to look at my diet over the next seven days and tell me it’s unhealthy!

I also dare you to put down my friends, *insert head wiggle and finger snaps* “don’t you go dissin’ ma gurl Ally”.

Mothers around the world warn “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. Or, you can take my fathers life motto and add this little gem to the end of that sentiment, “unless you have a damn good argument to back it up”.

Bam.

Bathing in sugarless pain.

Today is the first time I’ve really felt like I’m missing out with this sugar quitting thing. Cronuts showed up at work and I couldn’t have them. They are (for those of you who’ve been living under a rock) a combination of a croissant and a donut. So basically, pastry heaven. Not only do I love both of these things, I’m also a sucker for crazy food fads and I entirely support creativity (and madness) in the kitchen.

It sounds melodramatic (probably because it is) but I was completely gutted. Simply miserable that I couldn’t tuck in, like everyone else around me. I know I am lucky that this is this first time I’ve seriously come across sugar envy/cravings. But right now I don’t feel lucky. I feel grumpy. I feel like throwing my toys, having a tantrum, shouting (loudly), stomping my feet and I seriously feel like eating sugar.

But I won’t. Instead I will just look and it and feel sorry for myself, bathing in my stupid, self inflicted sugarless pain.

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