You are what you eat

Addiction is something that every single person I know suffers from. But I’m not talking about drugs or alcohol, I’m talking about food. When was the last time you met someone that was 100% happy with what they ate? A few Paleo/Vegan extremists exist, sure, but for the majority of us, bad eating is just a way of life. In 2012 I weighed 76kg, not a huge number but certainly overweight for someone of my stature. I now average around 60kg (depending on which leg I’m wearing), so I thought I’d share some thoughts on weight loss and healthy eating.

People often ask me how to lose weight, or what kind of foods I eat that keep me so trim. Put simply, I don’t eat a shit tonne of carbohydrates. I don’t drink sugar drinks, or consume alcohol. I’ve swapped potatoes for pumpkin, rice for broccoli and bread for vegetables. In actual fact, I probably eat more food than I once did, but it’s the right food. I wasn’t however able to make these changes overnight, it was a gradual process where I incrementally removed bad things from my diet. Sugar and alcohol were the first to go – easy, who actually needs those? I then switched to eating kumara, brown rice and whole grains; these are known as complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates stick around in your system and keep you full for longer. As a general rule of thumb, any brown carbohydrate will be considered complex.

Orange kumara is delicious, it’s also freakishly expensive. One night I found myself with no kumara to cook, and instead I replaced it with a head of broccoli and extra carrots. It wasn’t until this meal that I realised that my body functioned fine without these traditional staple foods I’d been brought up to expect with every meal. It was around this time that the Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) type diets were fadding, and a guy at my work was losing 2kg per week eating as much food as he wanted. The idea is that the traditional source of energy (carbs) are replaced with fat, the concept of this interested me greatly. I, like the rest of the world, had been led to believe that fat was bad, it made you fat and caused heart disease. Well, fat in-fact does not make you fat. I now regularly use butter for everything, have a high intake of nuts, and devour roasted chicken skin whenever I get the chance.

Occasionally I go cold turkey on caffeine for 21 days, to prove to myself that I’m mentally strong enough to stop consuming it if I choose to. The first week of this involves headaches, restlessness and a dry throat. This is the exact same response I get if I go for 2-3 days with no carbs, my body is totally addicted. This is the biggest problem I see when people try to give up bad foods. They don’t realise that they’re dealing with an actual addiction, and try to go cold turkey. This is generally combined with an attempt to attend the gym 5 days per week. In my experience most people give up after two days, they miss that can of coke, or that hearty subway sandwich just a little bit too much. In this situation, less really is more. In the same way that 4 minutes of exercise per day is worthwhile, making one of many small changes to your diet can have a huge impact on your health and well being. Here are some examples of individual changes that have a huge impact:

  • Lower your portion sizes. Most people eat far more food than they actually need.
  • Snack on nuts. Nuts contain protein and healthy fats, and a couple of handfuls can easily get you through an afternoon.
  • Whatever you are currently eating for breakfast, switch it for eggs or meat.
  • Drop dessert.
  • Drink more water.
  • Opt for brown carbs (complex) over white.
  • Get to a farmers market. Vegetables are actually super affordable.
  • Read labels! People mock me for this, but seriously, you’d be surprised at what you are actually eating.


Roasted Hazelnuts taste just as good as Nutella!

Roasted Hazelnuts taste just as good as Nutella!

I would say that two thirds of weight loss is attributed to a healthy diet, the final third being exercise. I’m not that into cardio, so my prefered form is lifting weights. I workout about 3 times per week, and that is enough. By manipulating the variables you can certainly lose weight with diet or exercise alone, but the two thirds approach feels like a nice balance to me. Besides the many health benefits, regular exercise feels good and provides a fantastic mental release from your work day.

So let’s recap. No potatoes, bread, rice, sugar or alcohol. Smaller meals, good snacks and read labels. Cool, lucky we’re all robots. In reality I don’t actually adhere to all of this advice. Fish and chips is still my favourite meal (consumed weekly), I also regularly eat chocolate, noodle soup and chicken rice. Do I consider myself a hypocrite? No, I’m a human being. I believe it’s about finding a good balance, and enjoying all the things that you want to in life. I tend to eat around one meal a day that has a decent sized carbohydrate component, this keeps my energy levels up without making me feel too lethargic. I also genuinely love to eat vegetables, enjoy drinking water, and get off on working out, which helps a lot.

Ultimately the best thing you can do is commit to some sort of lifestyle change with the purpose of making you feel good. All I do now is listen to my body and give it the fuel that it needs to perform the tasks I set it, the rest just takes care of itself.



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Ticking boxes

Finally, after months of waiting and hard work I’ve arrived here, house finally on the market and three days out from my first open home. My todo list started pretty broad, and as any fellow procrastinator could guess, this wasn’t leading to successful completion. Following some helpful advice, this list was fleshed out into smaller tasks and I dragged myself away from the Dark Playground. Painting turned into components to sand, which quickly turned into organising some paid help. Gardening turned into, “Call Joel.” Which turned into organising a working bee with the family. Is anyone else seeing a pattern here? I guess my job has taught me the importance of delegation when you need to get something done quickly.

The painting was eventually completed, and the gardening was smashed out by my skilled family members over the course of a drizzly day. “Build a nice pathway,” Joel says. An hour later my handy brothers have composed a masterpiece, adding an entrance way into my now beautiful home.


Rich hard at work.



The first week in the house I pulled up the carpet in the hallway, and ever since then I have been imagining how those Rimu floorboards would look sanded and polished. “But what about 60s cork board in the kitchen, and the lino in the bathroom?” I was constantly being asked. So up comes the lino and I get the floor man in for a quote. He advises to have it tested for asbestos, sure enough, he’s right. To my extreme fortune, my flatmate, Mike, is a professional asbestos remover, so he borrowed the gears and we set out to decontaminate the bathroom floor. For some reason we decided to do this after garden day at 8pm. At midnight we emerge, tired and sore, but victorious. The floor man had assured me there would be no asbestos under the cork in the kitchen, so the next weekend I got to prying up the board. Whoops, guess he was wrong.


Old kitchen floor




Asbestos removal is actually quite straight forward. You take a bunch of plastic sheets and tape up doorways and cupboards to make the room airtight. You then donne masks and full body overalls and remove the asbestos into sealed bags. After the deed is done, an expensive multi-filter vacuum is used to clean up the dust, and then a solution of PVA (yep, just like the glue at school) is sprayed around the room like a mist to bind the fibres together. The PVA dries clear. After the bathroom experience, I had estimated about 30 hours to complete the kitchen. This time though, on the advice from the nice old man at Bunnings we bought a few tubs of Acetone (nail polish remover). Saturday morning my friends Liam and Gary pitched in, and together with Mike and I, managed to complete the Kitchen and toilet by Sunday night.

Mike and his gear

Mike and his gear

Fast forward through floor sanding, three coats of polyurethane, furniture moving, and a whole lot of cleaning, and I was finally taking a real estate agent through. She added a couple more things to my list, such as curtains in the spare room, to make the house ready for photos and open homes. The house listed on Monday and there’s already been four people through, the first open home is this weekend. Offers are being held off until September 3rd, at which point I guess I’ll find out whether my house is something that people want.

I’ve decided from this experience that I wouldn’t want to do it again. Not that I regret it, it’s been an interesting three year experiment. It’s more that I don’t actually enjoy DIY, or gardening, I don’t care about the same sorts of things that other people seem to, like curtains and light fittings. While I have an appreciation for these things, and can recognise good from bad, at the end of the day I feel like a house is something that you live in, and I can take or leave the rest. Home ownership is another topic entirely, perhaps I’ll write a post about that someday.

I’ll close with some before and after pictures of the house. Sad that I have no photos of the pink bathroom.