The True "Before and After".....

The True "Before and After".....

I am an avid reader, unsurprisingly, of weight loss blogs, weight loss success stories and weight loss magazines and books. Nothing sucks me in quicker than the "before and after" stories, especially the before and after photos. They show me the promise of what is indeed possible. Call me superficial (and I am, at times) but I love to see the snaps from the last decade of the fat bride looking gross and uncomfortable alongside the recent snap of the very same woman looking slimmer and so much happier. For me, it is totally inspiring. A pictorial statement that someone has made a choice to get from fat to fit, to take control back. I have very few photos of me of when I was at my largest weight. I avoided cameras. The truly awful ones just got deleted. And these days I generally forget to take as many progress snaps as I should.

So it is with a fairly scared deep breath that I jot down my before and after habits. These tell a far more illustrative tale than the photos ever could-


  • Two or three cigarettes
  • At least three coffees with full cream milk
  • 4 slices of toast with butter
  • A morning full or regret over what I didn't manage to not eat the previous day.
  • Lumber after the kids all morning, dressed in ugly size 24 clothes. Sneak off for cigarettes.
  • Get cranky with the kids because they want me to operate at an energy level I just do not have.
  • Feel guilty.
  • Sneak off for cigarettes.
  • Grocery shop and buy a lot of healthy food, as well as a lot of junk food snacks. Suck my stomach in the whole time just in case someone thinks I am pregnant again. Feel so dreadfully self conscious.
  • Go to the library with the kids and feel very fat and uncomfortable in comparison to other Mums with their kids.
  • Make the kids a healthy lunch, and then sneak off to eat my lunch in peace. A couple of big fat sandwiches as well as a couple of bags of chippies, washed down with a lot of orange juice. And a couple more cigarettes.
  • Get cranky with the kids because I feel lethargic and tired. My joints ache and I feel bloated all the time.
  • Make the kids a healthy dinner and pick at what they are having. Make dinner for me and lovely husband. Big portions of carb and fat laden meals. Lots of healthy salads, also full of cheese and nuts.
  • Get the kids to bed. Fall asleep on Olivia's bed.
  • Wake up and have a couple of cigarettes, then cruise the kitchen for snacks.
  • Chill out with lovely husband, eat half a big block of chocolate. A couple more cigarettes
  • Surf the internet, feeling guilty at the amount of crap I have eaten. Wish I could find a solution.
  • Watch some TV and eat more chocolate, even though I feel a bit sick. Feel like crap. Have one last cigarette.
  • Crawl into bed. Joints aching. Snoring.
  • Wake up feeling shit.
  • Note: no exercise at all.
  • Alarm goes off at 5am and hop out of bed, have one coffee which I enjoy whilst I blog.
  • 6am, off for a run/walk/resistence training/intervals
  • 7am: Make brekky for me and the kids and grab a quick shower and slap some makeup on. My brekky is a protein shake and some fruit
  • 8am : Start the school run
  • 9am - Grocery shop for fresh produce based on a menu plan: a menu plan that is supportive.
  • 10am Take Lexie for a swim or a play in the park. Fruit for morning tea.
  • 11am Quick chores around the house. Cup of herbal tea.
  • Make a healthy lunch for me and Lexie: usually tuna or lean meat in a Burgen roll. No butter. Some raw chopped veggies and a diet yogurt.
  • Whilst Lexie naps I blog and listen to some hypnotherapy and have another cup of herbal tea
  • 3pm School run time again. Take water with me.
  • 3.30 Afternoon tea is fruit
  • 5.30 Dinner. I eat with the kids. We all eat the same thing. Lean meat or fish. Salad or steamed veg. Low GI carb such as Doongara rice or a baked potato.
  • 6pm Homework time whilst I run round doing chores. I am happy.
  • 6.30 Bathtime
  • 7.00 Stories and bed. Cuddle them all, and realise how lucky I am
  • 7.30 Chill with lovely husband.
  • 9.00 Feel "peckish" so have a diet yogurt or some cut fruit or a chuppa chup.
  • Blog.
  • Bed, with a candle and some more hypnotherapy.
  • Happy.
  • Note: no cigarettes at all.

And so when people ask me how I stay motivated, I think of this. I think of how happy and guilt free I am now, in comparison to then.

I can never, will never, go back to how I was before. If I never lose another kilo, if I only maintain for the rest of my life, that is OK, I will just never go back to that sad addicted life I had before.


September 26, 2013 — Tracy Verboom
{Test Results} Organising family paperwork and bills

{Test Results} Organising family paperwork and bills

I have finally done it! I have conquered my family paperwork and come up with a fantastic system to keep my bills and ‘to do’ lists organised. You will remember that my inspiration for organising the family admin was Gemma’s (from My Big Nutshell) fabulous faux Kikki.k folders and some great guidelines from Debra from Home Life Simplified.

These test results follow on (finally) from:

{Crash Test} Organising family paperwork
{Crash Challenge} How to organise family paperwork and bills
{Crash Test Update} Family paperwork: creating a “Tickler File”

I had already picked up a $5 expansion file folder from Officeworks and thought it would do the trick. Also, they are cloth bound, so look pretty too. I headed back and picked up another 6 of them. I have five in black and a pink one which holds all our important docs and certificates. It will be easy to spot it and grab it as I race out of a burning house, or something like that (touch wood I never have to)

Expansion file folders

Using Gemma’s folder themes as guidlines I made up the following folders:
  • Utilities & Insurance
  • Health & Lifestyle
  • Manuals & Warranties
  • Ideas
  • Important Documents
  • Renovations & Maintenance

I think I will also make up one for recipes and takeaway menus, as I’m always ripping recipes out of magazines.

Using my trusty label maker I labelled each of the pockets in the expansion file. Here’s the Utilities & Insurance folder: 

Inside the Utilities and Insurance file

I like how I can just drop in paper and bits and pieces regardless of their size without having to hole punch or put in plastic sleeves. The less steps involved the better! It also copes better than plastic sleeves do with heavier manuals and booklets. Pretty simple isn’t it? The labels on the front are made from bits of extra card found inside the expansion files. I just cut them up and labelled them. They are currently being held on with mini wooden pegs. Kind of cute, but not very practical. I may have to glue them or use a metal pin/brad thingy.

Tickler File

My biggest win in taking on this Crash Test has been my ‘Tickler File’. You can read about what it is and how it works in my {Crash Test Update} Family paperwork: Creating a “Tickler File”. I have found the best container for my tickler file. I took one of the expansion file folders I bought and gutted it ie tore out the dividers. I kept two pockets at the front for my index card stash. Then I just dropped my tickler file folders and dividers in. It’s great and matches the rest of my folders. 

I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now and it is brilliant. Bills go straight into the date folder when we get paid or it’s due date. Kinder forms and event invites go into the date folder the day before I have to do something with it. Library book reminder slips go into the corresponding return date folder. Easy, just throw it in and forget it until you need it. And when you need it, there it is! Brilliant! I don’t have to set reminders in my phone and find somewhere to put the paper until I need it. One step – easy. I also use index cards to write myself reminders and file them in the relevant date. If I don’t have time to sort mail straight into the tickler file then I pop them in a little metal mail rack which sits near the front door.

So there you have it. The Crash Test household is organised. It didn’t cost too much either: $35 worth of folders, some manila folders and dividers (for the tickler file), and something for label making.

Do you think this might work for you? Would you try a “Tickler File”?


September 24, 2013 — Tracy Verboom
A Free Miracle Food!

A Free Miracle Food!

I came across this article in the New York Times. As I have traveled to many places and visited 3rd world countries, this really warmed my heart to know that there are still people out there that care. A child was given a gift, the miracle to live and maybe make a difference in this world.

I had difficulty breastfeeding my first child myself and it was not only from perseverance and a lovely patient mid wife that walked me through the first couple of weeks that we finally made it and I breastfed happily until I fell pregnant with my second child. Please don't be afraid to ask for help. We can all learn from this fantastic article. Please read on.....

MOPTI, Mali — Nicholas D. Kristof

Can you name a miracle food that is universally available, free and can save children’s lives and maybe even make them smarter?

That’s not a trick question. There really is such a substance, now routinely squandered, that global health experts believe could save more than 800,000 lives annually. While you’re puzzling over the answer, let me tell you how I just saw it save a life here in West Africa.

I’m on my annual win-a-trip journey, in which I take a university student along with me so we can report on global poverty. The winner, Erin Luhmann of the University of Wisconsin, and I randomly stopped in a village near the Malian town of Mopti to ask about food shortages.

Then we spotted a baby boy who was starving to death. The infant, only 3 weeks old, was wizened from severe malnutrition and had the empty, unresponsive face of a child shutting down everything else to keep his organs functioning.

The teenage mother, Seyda Allaye, said that she didn’t have much milk and that the baby wasn’t nursing well. She saw that he was dying and that morning had invested in cow’s milk in hopes of saving him.

Erin and I had a vehicle, so we offered to take her and her son to a hospital to see if doctors could save his life. At the hospital, a doctor examined the baby, asked his mother to try to nurse him and immediately diagnosed the problem.

“The mother doesn’t know how to breast-feed properly,” said the doctor, Amidou Traoré. “We see lots of cases of child mortality like this.”

Dr. Traoré repositioned Seyda Allaye’s arm, helped the infant latch on to her breast, and the baby came alive. And there’s the answer to my opening question. The miracle food that could save so many lives is: breast milk.

The latest nutritional survey from The Lancet estimates that suboptimal breast-feeding claims the lives of 804,000 children annually. That’s more than the World Health Organization’s estimate of malaria deaths each year.


Look, I realize that there’s something patronizing about a man griping about poor breast-feeding practices, and, in the West, the issue is linked to maternity leaves and other work practices. But, if we want to save hundreds of thousands of lives, maybe a step forward is to offer more support to moms in poor counties trying to nurse their babies.

Nursing a baby might seem instinctive, but plenty goes wrong. In some parts of the world, a problem has been predatory marketing by formula manufacturers, but, in the poorest countries, the main concern is that moms delay breast-feeding for a day or two after birth and then give babies water or food in the first six months. The WorldHealth Organization strongly recommends a diet of exclusively breast milk for that first half year.

In a village in Mali, Erin and I watched a woman wash a baby — and then pour handfuls of bath water down his mouth. “It makes the baby strong,” a midwife explained.

On hot days, African moms routinely give babies water to drink. In fact, breast milk is all infants need, and the water is sometimes drawn from unsanitary puddles.

Several studies highlight other advantages of breast-feeding, including increases of several points in a child’s I.Q. and improved development of areas of the brain associated with language and planning.

While many moms think they don’t produce enough milk, nutritionists say that that’s rare. Even when moms are malnourished, the baby’s frantic suckling will stimulate more milk.

Erin and I traveled partway on this trip with Shawn Baker, a public health expert with Helen Keller International. One day we asked him where he would invest a billion dollars if he had it.

“To me, the next big win in saving kids’ lives is breast-feeding promotion,” he said. “It’s absolutely unacceptable that more than 800,000 kids are dying annually of suboptimal breast-feeding.”

Ghana is a model of a country that has successfully used public health campaigns to raise rates of exclusive breast-feeding very significantly.

There are many ways to save lives, some involving dazzling technologies. But maybe in our sophistication we’ve overlooked a way to ease childhood malnutrition that is sustainable, scalable, free — and so straightforward that all hungry newborns cry for it.