Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lose that Winter Coat!

OK. I admit it. I’ve been letting myself go. The idea, in the middle of winter, of eating a salad when I could sit down to a roast suckling pig, with cheesey potatoes, washed down with a gallon of porter, wines and followed up with a cheese platter was a no-brainer. The latter was simply too good to refuse.

However, it’s unsustainable. As I was reaching the dawning of the age of aware-y-ness about my crumbling physical edifice, I was talking to a guy who’s a wine writer from Sydney (do NOT ask me how you get that job; he’s got an ex-wife, kids in new York, and a house on the North shore. Let’s call it a second income, like a millionaire secret patron). He had two great pieces of advice:

  1. “Cholesterol? Pfft. My doctor told me the best way to get over it is to have lean meat with capsicum and spinach for breakfast. You know, a caveman diet. Basically, if you can’t point to the original food source of your meal, don’t put it in your mouth.” (I later found out this is similar to a principal known as a Paleolithic diet – see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic_diet)
  2. “I was told I had a problem with my liver function. The doctor told me give up the booze. I said, is it a real problem, doesn’t it grow back? He said it did. I’m a wine writer, so I can hardly stop drinking. Plus I don’t want to. So he gave me different strategies, like drink more water, and giving up coffee. Now? No problem.”
This second piece of advice has helped me enormously with hangover recovery: make sure you don’t have a coffee the day after a bender. You’re asking too much of your internal organs, and they have enough to worry about already.

It’s funny when you run into someone so keyed into their physical being – he was years younger than me and went to the doctor regularly, as well as going to the gym and jogging as well.

I’m more at the spiritual end of the spectrum, and prefer to lie in bed with a good book, a willing woman (or a willing book and a good woman), and a glass of wine with a small snack from Europe… while mildly wondering whether a particular ache or pain is life threatening.

Well no longer. I don’t mean I’m going to a doctor; I run screaming from a visit to the vet’s with the dog. And I refuse to not enjoy lying in bed with or without books and ladies. No, I mean I’m no longer taking the inevitable decline and fall of the Western Empire as a given.

This is something that must happen to people my age, a bit like quitting your job and starting a new career at thirty. Once you hit forty, people seem to start running marathons and telling you “I’m in the best physical condition of my life”.

Yeah, right…

But does losing weight, eating healthy meals, and generally becoming the best “you” since the U-bend really have to be a process of denial and suffering? Well I’m here to tell you that it’s not, and that over the last week or so I’ve lost a couple of kilos and plan on looking fan-bloody-tastic for summer.

“But how?”, I hear you think… as well as: “Oh no! Not another friggin’ gut buster article. Hasn’t everyone else written a million bits titled lose weight now ask me how?”

Yeah yeah, but this one is for slackers like you and me, people who like to pretend they’re gourmets.

So here, without further ado, are my Top Tips™ for losing that winter coat.

1. Think about it

First stop, try journalising what you’re putting in your mouth: i.e. write down what you eat. I’m not doing this, but my partner in crime is, and that’s enough since it’s made me think about what I’m doing.

Two sugars in your latte, with a couple of biscotti? Try a black espresso, no sugar, and just one biscuit.

Suddenly, the pack of Cool Mints™, Mentos™ and/or XXX Mints™ in the car you habitually eat half a roll of accounts for the second chin.

2. Whole foods

My biggest sin is eating convenient snack foods. Ever notice when you turn up to someone’s house and they bring out a bowl of chips, cabana, and – why the hell not – Twisties™, Cheetos™, cashews and some pretzels, that you act like the Super-trawler™ towards? Notice it.

A great way to beat lazy habits is to plan your food, and put an emphasis on whole foods. Go a little caveman on yourself, and get the oysters instead of the Paul’s Vienetta™. You’ll find yourself saying things like, “Wow, I haven’t eaten a piece of fruit for morning tea since primary school.”

3. Boozoire

OK, so obviously this is going too far. I, much like the wine writer above, am only prepared to go so far in the pursuit of skinniness. But did you know that a stubby of beer is about the equivalent sugar/calorie-wise as eating a Mars Bar and a half? A Suburban and Coke™ is even worse!

Gosh! On a big weekend, I’d be emptying half a lolly shop.

My advice? Straight vodka with soda water chasers. And fewer beers.

4. Get out of jail free

So, you’re being good, eating fruit and vegetables, having grilled fish with salads, going for the occasional swim and walking to work, but someone just bought you ‘Floyd on France’ (yourself). Guess what? It’s all absolutely OK!

I got this great tip from that fitness instructor from the Biggest Loser™. You know the one who has got the great body but the mean looking face (a bit like Madonna™)? I’ve never met her, but channel surfing heard her say something which I’ve hung on to like a limpet*.

“I exercise and watch what I eat during the week, but I always allow myself one day when I get to eat whatever I want.”

I find this enormously appealing because:

a. it gives you a day when you can really lay on and have that rabbit terrine and a bottle of wine or five;

b. when you get there, you really do enjoy the treat, because it’s just that; and

c. then you feel kind of dirty, like sleeping with Ginger from Gilligan’s Island™ on the Saturday, then returning once more to the arms of Maryanne for some wholesome sex during the week (all the time thinking about that beauty spot and flesh toned dress with the sparkles).

5. Exercise

I'm reminded here of an interview I saw with my personal hero Jackie Chan™!  He had kids asking him for advice, including what diet they should be on to become a superior martial artist.  Jackie laughed and said "Eat what you want.  But exercise!"

I know, I know. But the whole weight reduction issue is a “what-goes-in-must-come-out” formula, so you’ll inevitably have to wriggle a bit. Ah go on. It’s fun! Remember: dancing, sex, and rockin’ the guitar while walking along a bar top counter all count.

6. The Confessional

Tell everyone you’re getting fit and losing weight. Much like giving up anything, or undertaking something that involves a modicum of self-restraint, there’s nothing better than confessing your intentions to friends and family. That way, when you start to slip, everyone seems to be looking at you, shaking their heads and thinking “Hopeless!” You’ll find yourself scuttling back into your new routines like a crab who’s just been poked by a snorkler.

Hmm, crab!

So, for example, if you’re a food obsessive, start a food blog, then write an entry about how to lose weight! Yay! See, it’s working already!

So there you have it. My patented Getting-Trim for Summer Plan. The next couple of missives will be some “yum-a-rific” recipes I come across in the next few weeks that will help us (me) on the way to hot-bod heaven.

Ciao (and not chow) for now!

*You’re allowed to eat limpets in your new regime!