Saturday, 19 April 2014

Part 23 - Billy Connolly, Storm Ita and My first ever detox: how the GM Diet worked for me!

I can't believe it's been 10 months since I wrote my last blog entry - we have been busy bees and clearly just enjoying life in Auckland!

I won't go into detail about everything that we've been up to as that would take forever for me to write and ages for you to read so I will spare you :)

Heaps of celebs have been making an appearance here too which has been nice, I was lucky enough to see Beyonce at the end of last year as well as Dolly Parton (legend, it's got to be done!) earlier this year and Bruno Mars not so long ago! We also had tickets to see the Rolling Stones last weekend but this has been postponed due to the sad death of Mick Jagger's girlfriend L'Wren Scott so we'll be seeing them later on in the year. Last weekend Billy Connolly was here in Auckland and we had tickets in row 5 which was awesome and I was SO EXCITED ABOUT!!! I have some great memories of watching my fave ever live DVD of Billy with my Best friend in Wales when we were younger ... I think we both know all the words to it ... "GIANT ANTS ... ARE EATING MA' HEED!" Ha ha ha - makes me smile even as I type it!

Waiting for the Big Yin to make his appearance ...

We've come through summer so there have been lots of outdoor activities going on which has been awesome and now we're in autumn ... that said we've had a cracking autumn so far (that is ... until the royals showed up!) On that note, it is lovely to have an air of excitement around about Will, Kate & Baby George - everyone seems to have nice things to say about them.

We had a crazy storm on Thursday (it's now Saturday) and that seems to have cleared the air for even more sunshine!

Tamaki Drive in Auckland during Storm Ita
People trying to get to work on Tamaki Drive, Auckland during Storm Ita

Anyway, I decided to do my 1st ever detox a couple of weeks ago and I used the General Motors (GM) Diet plan to do it. I wanted to share what I thought of it with you guys, I hope you enjoy:

Day one Tuesday (also went to gym at lunchtime)

Made a batch of soup the night before I started which consisted of:

  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • Cabbage
  • Green beans
  • 1 green pepper
  • Celery
  • Peas
  • Vegetable stock (3 cubes)
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • Chilli powder

Today wasn’t too difficult, I am allowed to have fruit only all day (no bananas) and as much vegetable soup as I like. I am feeling motivated and keen to shake off the addiction to refined sugar that a lot of us have!

Today’s menu looked like this:

  • Breakfast: 2 apples
  • Mid morning: kiwi fruit, orange
  • Lunch: papaya, soup
  • Mid afternoon: kiwi fruit, 2 apples
  • Dinner: papaya
  • Drinks: over 2 litres of water

Day two (Loss: 1kg) Wednesday

I woke up feeling bright, thirsty and hungry.

Just the smell of the soup put me off when I was preparing meals for work! I actually quite enjoyed it when I ate it though. I went for a short walk at lunchtime to buy supplies ready for the next couple of days.

Today I am allowed vegetables only, and non-starchy vegetables at that (so no parsnips, pumpkin, squash, corn, etc) and the soup.

Today’s menu looked like this:

  • Breakfast: celery, small amount of soup, genmaicha Japan tea
  • Mid morning: soy flat white (not allowed!!) 1 Kiwiberry (not allowed! Got asked to try one)
  • Lunch: salad leaves, pepper, tomatoes, cucumber. Balsamic vinegar, celery, cauliflower & broccoli (fried, no oil)
  • Mid afternoon: soup
  • Dinner: Baked potato, butter & mushrooms
  • Drinks: over 2 litres of water

Day three (Loss: 0.4kg) Thursday

Woke up bright eyed and surprisingly energetic. I also have a constant feeling of hunger. This is the most difficult morning so far and I am really looking forward to lunch! I am having intermittent small headaches (not prolonged, very short).

I went for a 30 minute walk at lunchtime and felt drained at the end! I have also been quite drained all afternoon.

Dinner was a complete disaster ... I’m really not feeling it today. Ironically I preferred the days when it was all fruit or all veg – not the combination (not sure why). I actually think this diet is putting me off vegetables, which isn’t a good thing as I eat a fair amount of them usually anyway. I tried to abate my hunger in the evening with water, but still went to bed quite hungry.

I made a new batch of soup tonight and it’s not as nice as the original one I made. This one has less stock it and uses fresh cherry tomatoes instead of a tin ... wishing I’d stuck with my first recipe! The original GM soup recipe calls for just using water! Ach y fi (disgusting) as we’d say in Wales, I couldn’t have eaten that. This soup batch was made of:

  • Fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 3 onions
  • Cabbage
  • Green beans
  • 1 red pepper
  • Celery
  • Vegetable stock (1 cube)
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • A touch of cumin

Today’s menu looked like this:

  • Breakfast: soup, half a nashi pear, 1 apple, feijoa, herbal tea
  • Mid morning: Satsuma, kiwi fruit, herbal tea
  • Lunch: courgette, carrot & mushroom fried in a little olive oil with sauce (made of balsamic, mustard & Nando’s hot peri peri), tomatoes. Had to have half of this at 11.30am. Apple, plum.
  • Dinner: half a nashi pear, half an apple, soup with fried broccoli and cauliflower (not good! Ate some of it...yuck)
  • Drinks: over 2 litres of water

Day four (Gain: 0.6kg) Friday

After a strict day yesterday and not enjoying it at all – I put on 0.6kgs! It was pretty demotivating, even though I was doing this to cleanse as opposed to losing weight. I actually think my body may have gone into ‘starvation mode’ yesterday – I know little about this but have heard the term banded about when people go on extreme diets your body clings to everything it gets.

Still ... I’m sticking with it – I know I will be cheating on Saturday night as I’m going to see Billy Connolly live and it would be rude not to have a cheeky wine or two while appreciating the Big Yin! (I am SO EXCITED about this!)

That said I woke up feeling very bright eyed and bushy tailed again today (this is definitely the theme) AND I get to eat bananas and drink milk today.

I have been looking forward to this day all week. I love bananas! I can have up to 8 bananas and 3 glasses of trim / skimmed milk throughout the day, along with the soup. I can also (‘legally’) have an espresso coffee with milk (known as a flat white here in NZ) to start my day. I am not a huge coffee drinker, I am more into all sorts of tea – however, I have missed being able to fill up on a flat white. One change though is that I would usually have a sugar in my coffee, I didn’t this morning and I could easily get used to sugar-free coffee having not had refined sugar for a few days. This is a good outcome!

I prepared for the day by making a banana smoothie with 2 bananas and a tall glass of trim milk (half for morning tea and half for lunch). When I had the first half of this for morning tea it tasted lovely and extremely sweet – the sweetest thing I have eaten in 4 days!

I felt very satisfied after lunch with my soup & have a smoothie ... plus after everything I said yesterday about my new batch of soup it was actually OK today – I had put heaps of pepper in it before I went to bed last night and that definitely pepped it up a bit (spot the unintentional pun)!

I had 6 bananas in all and was feeling reasonably satisfied by bedtime. This is usually the day that people put on a pound or so, so I'm frustrated that happened to me yesterday.

Today’s menu looked like this:

  • Breakfast: Coffee with milk!! Yum (no sugar)
  • Mid morning: Half a smoothie, genmaicha Japan tea. This left me feeling satisfied – not full and not hungry :)
  • Lunch: Soup, other half of my smoothie. Feeling full!
  • Mid afternoon: 1 banana
  • Pre Dinner: 1 banana
  • Dinner: soup, 1 banana, 1 glass of milk (smoothie)
  • Evening: 1 frozen banana
  • Drinks: over 2 litres of water
Day five (Loss: 1.5kg) Saturday

This is going to be tough, it’s Saturday. Work has kept my mind off food for the past 4 days and now I have free time to play with. However, I am so excited that I can have brown rice for the next 3 days!! I am also going out on a limb this evening and having alcoholic drinks so we’ll see how that goes. I know, I know – alcohol is not detoxing ... I am happy not to call it detoxing if it makes the reader feel better :)

The lesson I learnt overnight is to trust the process. So glad I didn't give up yesterday as I lost 1.5kgs – there is definitely something in the starvation thing I was taking about on day 3.

Today I am allowed 1 cup of brown rice and tomatoes. If I ate meat then today and tomorrow I would be able to eat beef, but I don’t so it is substituted for brown rice which suits me just fine.

I prepared last night for today's menu of brown rice and tomatoes. I read that it should be 1 cup of brown rice but can't find anywhere if that's supposed to be 1 cup measured uncooked or cooked so, having checked the label and seeing that 1/3 of a cup (uncooked) is a serving and gives you around 250 cals I made the educated decision that it must be 1 cup measured uncooked as that would be around a 900 calorie allowance which is low for normal daily amounts but relatively high on this diet. 1 cup of brown rice is around 210 grams and when I cooked it, it looked like a feast! I cut up 3 large tomatoes and dropped them in and also threw in some cherry toms for good measure (apparently tomatoes are foods from the gods … as are eggs usually).

Breakfast was more of a brunch time wise as I had it at about 11.30am – it was absolutely divine eating rice (I love brown rice anyway) – my taste buds came alive and it was amazing to be eating something of substance. When you heat the rice with tomatoes it turns the toms mushy and I know this dish will become a regular for me, I really like it.

I knew we were going out Saturday night to see Billy Connolly so knew that it was no longer detoxing – what with drinking alcoholic bevvies … plus we ended up going for dinner first! I ordered a small portion of battered fish with smashcut fries (fat wedges of potato deep fried!) and it certainly was a small portion when it arrived, I ate the fish and only had 2 potatoes before I felt full! Usually I would have finished my meal and this time I didn't – my needs were met and I left the rest :) Had an amazing night at Billy Connolly (High Horse Tour), he is so funny and it was also sad to hear of his battle with cancer and the ongoing fight with Parkinsons.

Here he is!!
We got home at 3am on Sunday(!) and I was feeling peckish when I got in, yet instead of reaching for the rice crackers I heated a bowl of brown rice and tomatoes, perfect!

Today’s menu looked like this:

  • Breakfast: brown rice and tomatoes with a squeeze of lemon, salt & pepper.
  • Lunch: brown rice and tomatoes with a squeeze of lemon, salt & pepper.
  • Dinner: battered fish & smashcut fries
  • Evening (actually at 3am Sunday!): brown rice & tomatoes
  • Drinks: 1 litre of water, 4 glasses of wine, 2 Canadian club & dry ginger ale, 1 vodka lime & soda

Day six (Loss: 0.1kg) Sunday

Okay so I weighed this morning and still lost 0.1kg … that said, I think it's dehydration so I will take it with a pinch of salt and see how it's looking tomorrow!

Again I am allowed 1 cup of rice today with veggies (this would be beef with veggies if you eat meat). I am glad I can have the rice, my body is screaming out for carbs after a night on the town last night and I am trying to shut it up with yummy brown rice.

Woke up this morning and there was a tiny amount of yesterdays brown rice and tomatoes batch left so I was able to curb my hunger pangs with that before making my new batch for the day. For today's rice dish I cooked the cup of brown rice then fried some peas, grated carrot and yellow capsicum (no oil) and tossed that through along with some tomatoes and salt & pepper. Yum!
My daily allowance of brown rice & veggies
Today's menu looked like this:

  • Breakfast: Brown rice and tomatoes with a squeeze of lemon, salt & pepper.
  • Lunch: Brown rice and veggie mix with hot sauce
  • Dinner: Roast vegetables (parsnips, sprouts, pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans) with a tiny dribble of gravy (not allowed!)
  • Drinks: over 2 litres of water
Beautiful roast veggies

Day 7 (Gain: 0.8kg) Monday

It’s the last day of the diet and I am excited to be allowed fruit juice – even though I very very rarely drink it as part of my usual regimen! I bought the juice on Friday in preparation and have been looking forward to it :) I went for the Simply Squeezed Super Juice (apple, pineapple, mango & passion fruit) as it was one of the few I could find with no added sugars or dairy.

Simply Squeezed Super Juice
Having woken up and weighed this morning, I put on 0.8kg ... I knew the weekend shenanigans would rear their head at some point. Need to remind myself that I am doing this for health reasons and not for weight loss!

I only ate half the rice yesterday because I had the roast veggies for dinner so I have brought the other half in to work … and only eaten half of that (for breakfast).

Safe to say that from lunchtime I had stopped the GM diet – not because it was too difficult, more so because I was taken out to lunch with my boss and then later on in the evening I though it would be silly to revert back to making some rice with veg when I hadn’t stuck with it all day so I made a Quorn (vegetarian meat alternative, not soy) curry and had brown rice with it. Very nice it was too!

I thin I was mentally over it by this point, as you'll see by what I ate. Today’s menu looked like this:

  • Breakfast: 1 glass simply squeezed super juice, bowl of veggie rice
  • Lunch: 1 glass simply squeezed super juice, salmon salad (taken out to lunch)
  • Dinner: Homemade Quorn curry with brown rice (Quorn is not allowed!)
  • Evening: CurlyWurly, handful of almonds (very naughty indeed!)
  • Drinks: over 2 litres of water


So it’s the 1st day of officially not being on the GM diet. Overall I lost 1.6kg in 7 days (after losing, gaining, losing, etc) and the main outcome was the change in my mindset and the realisation that fasting is not a bad thing and my portions can be smaller and still fill me up. I have actually started listening to my body as opposed to letting my portion size dictate how much I eat.

Not that I ate badly or HUGE amounts previously, it just could have done with a bit of a review and the GM diet provided that. It also curbed my sweet tooth – I now longer have sugar in my coffee and I don’t need it, I am also rarely craving sweet foods as yet – I just need to keep that under control.

One final result from the GM diet has been that I have realised that I don’t eat enough for lunch – I would usually make myself a green leafy salad with tuna or pumpkin and it’s not enough for me to feel full all afternoon, heck it barely covers the hunger at lunchtime! I will consciously ensure that I eat more at lunchtime and this will in turn reduce my hunger at dinner time and reduce my ‘eating so much that I go to bed feeling stuffed’.

I started day 8 with a coffee to have on the way to work then 2 boiled eggs and a handful of almonds for Breakfast / morning snacking – 3 things I hadn’t been allowed to indulge in for a week and it was amazing! Eggs and tomatoes are going to be cornerstones of my diet from now on – I love them both and they are packed full of nutrients … perfect combo!

I have also decided to dramatically lower my intake of potatoes, pasta and white rice … in fact, I’ll happily never eat white rice again, if I could just get the Other Half (OH) onto it too then I could ban it from the house!

Anyway, don’t panic – my blog is not going to be focussed on food from now on, I’d bore you all to tears. I just wanted to share my experience of the GM diet.


It's now Easter weekend and I just want to wish everyone a very Happy Easter :) We have Good Friday and Easter Monday as public Holidays and on the 25 April is ANZAC Day so we have taken the 3 days off in between and got 10 days off for the price of 3!

We spent yesterday (Good Friday) out checking up on our boat (that's another story for another blog post!) and ensuring it was still on it's mooring following the storm this week, luckily it was and I feel for the owners of the 2 boats below which didn't fare so well.

We stopped in town and had a beautiful lunch at Federal Delicatessen which is owned by the Chef Al Brown and the food was absolutely glorious. Then attempted a walk along Takapuna Beach but the wind was a wee bit chilly!

Looking forward to spending some time with the Other Half (OH) in Whangamata for a few days and enjoying some good food, good NZ wine and good company. I hope you all have a fantastic long weekend.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Part 22 - 20 things you have to love about New Zealand

When you are emigrating to a new country it's really important to do a fair bit of research about the country you're moving to...not only so that you know what you're letting yourself in for but also to limit the 'settling in' period - it's not such a shock to the system.

I was a bit addicted to the different expats forums prior to moving (namely and and and they provided a plethora of information which was really useful both during the information gathering and visa application stages as well as during the transition geographically and later on when settling in.

What I am hoping to achieve with this post is to give you some insight into living in New Zealand (specifically Invercargill & Auckland) and some of the things that stood out for me...based on my previous 29 years living in Wales, UK.

There's nothing worse than people constantly complaining about what they miss about not living in their home country anymore (although we're all slightly guilty of it) so please don't think I am doing's just my insight into the things I have come to know and love about my new home country and more specifically, the Kiwi's who I have met.

So here they are: 20 things you have to love about New Zealanders:
  1. No one crosses the road without the little green man telling them that it's ok to cross. This is understandable to some degree in a busy city like Auckland, but I witnessed the very same thing in Invercargill and it's the same in Auckland on tiny roads which are clearly visible. You even get a countdown after the green man, saying how long you have left to cross. Everyone pushes the button to cross and waits to be told before they do. Even the dogs here know the sound of the beep and know they can cross the road. If you feel like risking life and limb by crossing without the green man then everyone watches you...I'm sure they are admiring the courage and rooting for the individual to make it across but you feel like an outsider doing it. I now wait for the green man every time...I feel like the kiwis know something I don't.
  2. The language is quite old fashioned. I have never before used the words 'stockings' to indicate 'tights', 'slips' and 'singlets' to indicate undergarments, 'pants' for trousers, 'lollies' for sweets, I have never owned a 'pantry' (I've always just had kitchen cupboards) - and yet these are now in my everyday vocabulary. In fact I didn't even own a slip until very recently and yet it's a staple piece of clothing here to wear under your dresses.
  3. We use truly seasonal fruit and veg. In the UK we were used to getting any fruit and veg required at any time of the year for the same price month in, month out. Yet here we have seasonal veg, seasonal prices. You can still buy a telegraph cucumber in winter but you'll pay almost $5 for it. It has made me so much more interested in using different veggies that I hadn't even considered before.
  4. People talk about it being 'freezing' in winter. When we lived in Invercargill we had a flurry of snow and hail and it was pretty cold (we emigrated from a severe UK winter to a pretty cold Invers winter). Since living in Auckland I have gone have most of the people around me. So far I think the lowest temperature we have had this winter has been 9 degrees (we may have had one day last month where it was 5 degrees in the morning) but it's usually about 16 / 17 degrees by the afternoon - yet I am guilty of saying how 'freezing cold' it is! The other evening I had to pop out in the car at about 7pm on a Saturday night and I was really feeling the cold; checked the outside temperature gauge on the car and it was actually 16 degrees. That was the same night I got my flannelette (there's another old fashioned word for you) winter pjs out of the closet ready for winter.
  5. They say 'no' to Starbucks. This is a bit of a generalisation but I don't know anyone here who would choose to go to Starbucks over one of the local coffee shops (of which there are plenty!) The coffee here is damn good and it's no thanks to Starbucks.
  6. We officially use UK English here in NZ to spell words (like colour, flavour, etc) and yet the pronunciation of many words is in US English (eg garaaage as opposed to garage, darta as opposed to data, etc)
  7. The bars get away with charging insane prices for alcoholic drinks and no one complains. In fact, there is a British bar in Auckland CBD called The Spitting Feathers and they have extremely cheap drinks and great meal deals (Wednesday night = steak night, a sirloin steak and real chips with 2 pints or 2 glasses of wine or 3 bottles of beer for $20) and they were banned by Auckland Council for advertising their drink prices on FaceBook because 'they're not competitive' - basically other local bars had complained because they couldn't compete on price. They just ended up being very creative with their advertising and putting up a picture of Heineken bottles with an image of 3 male deer next to it...3 bucks for Heineken. They are back advertising freely again now so I assume it was overturned.
  8. Auckland is a truly multicultural city...yet the amount of tabloid style racism or multicultural angst I have come across is nil. I'm not saying it doesn't exist, I'm saying I've never heard it. The UK could learn a lot about living happily alongside other nations from New Zealanders.
  9. No one is in a hurry. This is completely awesome...unless you are in a hurry. This is probably best illustrated when you're waiting behind someone at a red traffic light...the light turns green and for a few seconds nothing happens - they don't have their foot on the accelerator waiting for it to turn green so that they can speed off...people just take their time.
  10. The men are very gentleman-like. In the office I work in we need to get into lifts to get to the relevant floor that we work on and I noticed recently that the men usually hold back and wait for the women to get into and out of the lifts before they do. I was heading to work the other morning and I walked through the mall underneath our I was about to get onto the escalator there were 2 school boys heading towards it as well from another direction - I didn't even notice them until one made a point of waiting until I had got onto the escalator before he did. His friend had already hopped on - so it's not the same with everyone but it struck me that it was quite beyond his years to have done that. They were only about 15. I'm not one of those people who think that women should necessarily go first and I find it quite awkward to go in front of someone who was waiting before me (male or female)...that's the queuing Brit inside me...but it's quite endearing. This isn't to say that people aren't gentleman-like in the's just something I've noticed here.
  11. New Zealanders pronounce 'e' as 'i'. This is purely an accent thing (and I am not one to talk on this subject!) but it has resulted in some comical misunderstandings...when simple terms like 'check in' become 'chicken', 'bed' becomes 'bid' and 'pen' becomes 'pin'. I won't even mention the confusing about going out on the deck in the summer...
  12. We have loyalty cards for everything. In the UK we had loyalty cards for supermarkets, like Sainsbury's and Tesco where you earn points which eventually convert into a 'reward' voucher to spend in store. Well...this is on a whole new level - I have a loyalty card for Countdown (supermarket) and I use my FlyBuys card at New World (supermarket) and Z (petrol stations) but I have also been coerced into having loyalty cards for my favourite coffee shops (every 6th coffee is free), the Asian vegetarian shop (spend over $20 and you get a stamp...when you have 10 stamps you get $10 off a shop), fast food outlets like California Burrito (buy 5 burritos get your 6th free) and Pita Pit (like Subway but with filled pita breads...divine). People have huge wallets here and I think it's due to the amount of 'loyalty' cards they have...
  13. There are 2 songs that you need to know to fit in at a sing song here, and the lyrics are questionable. You can learn them here (Dragon - Rain) and here (The Exponents - Why Does Love Do This To Me). We first heard these songs in a social club in Riverton and the whole crowd went insane singing at the tops of their lungs. So we made a point to find out what they were and learn them. Now I can be like a real Kiwi at a sing song.
  14. What I previously understood to be a newsagents, is called a dairy here. Cute!
  15. We have chips...and we have hot chips, and neither of these are what we know as real chips. So chips here are what I know as crisps and hot chips are kind of like chips you get in a chippy in the UK - except more often than not they are frozen. This is not a sneaky hidden thing...many of the chippies are proud that they use 'McCain' frozen chips and advertise it. Hence why we were so excited when we found real chips at The Spitting Feathers (still haven't found any curry sauce though)
  16. Loads of the restaurants have BYOW (Bring Your Own Wine) and they charge a minimal corkage fee for you to drink it on the premises.
  17. Everyone is willing to help. Maybe I have just been very lucky in the friends I made both in Southland and in Auckland, but it has struck me that everyone has time for everyone else. Nothing is too much trouble.
  18. The 2nd of January is a public's called 'Day after New Year's Day'. Need I say more?
  19. They don't beat around the bush and have quite relaxed radio / TV regulations which allow for this. The first time I heard swearing on the radio here was in the morning - on the way to work, I was very surprised - but glad that they didn't feel the need to put crazy rules on everything. Let the people decide what they want to listen to. I was watching the news the other week - and they were showing the queen at one of the BBC Live Lounge shows...and it all looked pretty awkward...the NZ commentator said "the queen enjoyed this not at all awkward concert at the BBC' - say it like it is.
  20. We celebrate mid-winter Christmas. In fact we had a mid winter Christmas with friends last night - it's winter so it feels festive and we got together for a nice roast and a few glasses of bubbles. We pulled crackers, listened to Christmas songs and watched Elf. It's July. I questioned the whole mid-winter Christmas thing when we lived down south and was told that 'it feels Christmassy in winter so we have another celebration then' which baffled me even's Christmas at summertime here so how has it come to 'feel Christmassy' when it's cold? I guess it's because the population is largely NZ Europeans so their roots are in the northern hemisphere. Anyway, I'm not complaining, I heart Christmas so I am more than happy to have 2.
I am not saying that New Zealand is without it's issues but this should provide you with a snippet of the things that I absolutely adore about my new home. I hope one day you'll come and visit and experience all of these things for yourself.