If like me, you’ve been counting down the sleeps to summer & fretting wildly about what that means in terms of clothing (or, to be more specific, the lack thereof), worry-not possum pies – help is at hand! You may have noticed my tweets about this elusive beast: The Bikini Readiness Program – I harp on about this every winter, like conquering it means finding a prized unicorn covered head to tail in gold leaf & shaved Périgord truffles. May have gone a bit far there, but good, you’re still with me! Anyway! I realized after the cracker of a weekend we just had in Cape Town that summer is indeed knocking on our doorstep. Some of the more brazen souls out there bared their bods on our glorious beaches, but for the rest of us, well, we still have a way to go before we don the ‘kini & apply the Reimann (only the best sunscreen you’ll ever grace your body with, kittens).
Here are a few snippets of winning combinations from my Bikini Readiness Program. This is not me playing the part of the bossy Dietician/Nutritionist/Doctor. They’re simply suggestions for preparing well-balanced & delicious meals. If you’re rocking some hectic vibes like Diabetes or similar such atrocities, ignore me & stick to whatever your healthcare profesh is telling you. But do keep reading, it gets interesting!
Breakfast – The winning formulae
I hate breakfast. There. I said it. I’m more a liquid breakfast kinda gal. Give me a double espresso and a glass of freshly squeezed OJ and I’m good to go. Unfortunately I get to lunchtime looking like a rabid dog, most often drooling from starvation with crazy eyes rolling around in their sockets. Not a good look at all, hey? Here’s how to remedy that:
- Bircher muesli – This is a favourite of our friends over in Europe & takes muesli to a whole other level. I substitute the banana (sies) for papaya & the apple for Asian pears when they’re in season, though.
- Whole-wheat/Low GI/Rye toast – This is great to keep you fuller for longer. I top it either with Bovril, poached eggs & rocket (& chilli!) or avocado & tomato. Never more than 1 slice of bread and no butter or marg, okay?
- Other bits & pieces – Go for fat free vanilla yoghurt; berries; papaya; green melon; grapefruit. Stay away from fruits with high GI loads like grapes, cherries, mangoes, bananas & very sweet dried fruits. They contain high natural sugar contents and you’ll crash mid-morning, starved.
Lunch – How to keep it interesting at work
I have a job where I’m running around a lot, so lunch is always a difficult thing for me to have any consistency with. I have found that getting my hands on a small, soft cooler bag, an ice brick or two and some disposable cutlery has been my saving grace. Always ensure you have a balanced meal of protein, veg and carb at lunch, regardless of what you’re eating. It keeps the machine fueled, and there are fewer chances of your bod hanging onto bad things to conserve energy. Here’s what you’ll find in my lunchbox:
- Tinned tuna – I have been quoted as calling this stuff “fishy-smelling cardboard” and I totally validate that statement. However, tuna is high in protein and low in fat, so for the purposes of skinny-dom, I eat it. If tuna isn’t your thing try smoked chicken, plain-grilled ostrich steak or steamed salmon.
- Salad ingredients – My favourite salad is a crunchy veg slaw (cabbage, cucumber, carrots, bean sprouts, peppers, pea shoots, coriander/mint/basil & spring onions) & an Asian dressing (sesame oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, honey & chopped chillies).
- Low GI carbohydrates – If I’m near a kitchen I nuke some baby potatoes or heat up some pre-roasted sweet potatoes and add this to balance my meal. Other carbs with low GI loads include brown rice, egg pasta & whole-wheat tortillas, so really your options are endless here.
Dinner – A healthy end to your day
My biggest problem is dinner. I eat out & entertain often, and have never limited my calories when doing so. Changing this habit was my biggest challenge. I decided to compromise my eating out, and cut down drastically. I rather invite people over, cook a healthy, yummy dinner & my guests are none the wiser. Carbs are non-essential at suppertime, so cut those out and you’ll be smiling:
- High protein, low fat – When it comes to meat, choose between lean beef cuts (fillet is best, but use sirloin & rump, & ensure fat is trimmed off), skinless chicken joints, turkey, ostrich (all venison is lean, so go for your badge). Fish is also a great source of protein, but make sure you only buy locally caught fish on Sassi’s green list – yummy options are: angelfish; dorado; hake, gurnard, kob & yellowfin tuna. My cooking processes are simple. Most often I use my griddle pan, as this is non-stick so no oil is necessary. I make delish low fat sauces & dressings, and serve the meat with these separately.
- Vegetables – the best thing I did was buy a few bamboo steamers from my local Chinatown. I rack and stack all kinds of different veggies in them and they act as serving dishes too! The trick is to put your seasoning in the water you’re steaming with – try slices of lime or lemon, a dash of white wine, miso paste if you’re feeling adventurous or throw in some herbs & black peppercorns. Always cook your vegetables for the least amount of time possible. Try & eat as many raw or blanched vegetables as possible, as cooking will kill the nutrient content. In the evenings avoid sweetcorn, carrots, butternut, turnips, beetroot & parsnips, as these are considered high GI vegetables.
- Sauces, dressings & more – I eat a lot of Neapoletana sauce. I make it with a little olive oil, loads of garlic, handfuls of fresh basil & parsley & fresh tomatoes. I also love fresh pesto, blended with a little oil, substituting some of the oil for the juice from an orange. Black olive, basil & orange pesto goes wonderfully with fish, and you don’t even need a blender for that. Herbs are full of happy antioxidants, so use those that you love often.
It’s really very simple: Eat lots of fresh fruit & vegetables. Choose low GI and low fat wherever possible. Limit your sugar intake. Do lots of fun exercise! Everything in moderation (I’m talking specifically about my love affair with good beer & Jardine Bakery’s bacon croissants!) I did all this & lost 10 kilograms. Bikini Readiness FTW!