Green bean, Lentil & Haloumi salad

This is one of my favourite salad recipes of all time. It’s not too bad calorie wise if you don’t go overboard with the haloumi but lets face it, who doesn’t add too much haloumi??
Quite often I will eat it by itself for a light lunch or dinner, but it is also the perfect salad to accompany some beautifully grilled fish or meat.
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200g haloumi, broken into bite-sized pieces
200g green beans, trimmed
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1½ tsp Dijon mustard
½ eschalot, finely chopped
400g tin lentils, drained and rinsed
50g baby spinach leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Preheat the oven to 240°C (220°C fan-forced). Place the broken haloumi and beans onto a lightly greased baking tray and cook for 10–12 minutes or until haloumi is golden.
2 Meanwhile, place the oil, lemon juice, mustard and eschalot into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the lentils, spinach, cooked haloumi and beans. Toss to coat in the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and serve

The Rise of The Mint Jacket

Various shades of the mint coloured jacket seems to be on the rise amongst the luxury clothes brands of the world.

This is a favourite colour of mine, and will be perfect for a jolt of colour any time of the year.

Here are some of my picks – a mix of classic and funky styles:

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Gucci | Fall 2014 Ready-to-Wear Collection (image sourced from Pinterest.com)

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Image sourced via Pinterest.com

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Lafayette 148 ny: Couture Cloth Skylar Topper

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Lafayette 148 ny: Oasis Cloth Glenna Topper

The Sydney Skinny Swim 2014: Complete

I have swum naked, in front of hundreds of people.

The first question I seem to get asked is “What was it like?”

Frankly, I had a great morning on site and I loved the swim. Because I am a lucky girl, I picked a girlfriend (aka support crew member number 1) of mine up at 7:45am. Due to nerves, I only managed 3 hours sleep, so I was fairly tired, but despite the overcast weather, and the remaining nerves, I was looking forward to doing what so many people were cheering me on to do – swim 900m in the buff.

It was fairly quiet when we first arrived so I registered and picked up my Nudie goodie bag and headed over to a grassy knoll where my mate and I chillaxed and people watched. It was a fairly big space but there were lots of sponsor stalls, BBQ, free massages, food trucks – it had a really lovely community, relaxed vibe to it. After taking a good look around, it was obvious there were all sorts there. Old, young, middle aged, tall, short, male, female, big, petite. I was a little surprised there weren’t many ethnicities, but that could also be a cultural thing. I spotted one Indian, and my friend spotted one Asian.

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After 45 mins or so of taking it all in and chatting to some other participants I headed over to the bushes and changed from shorts and a top, into a dress. Having done practice runs before, I wanted the process of undressing to be seamless, so I only kept a bright pink, loose fitting dress and my knickers on. I knew my bra would be too fiddly for me to want to deal with on the beach so that came off too.

As the time approached for me to head over to the marshalling area my nerves were certainly coming back – it didn’t help that I had spotted a guy I went to university with – and as fate would have it, he was in my wave! The green wrist band was glaringly obvious.

I walked through the marshalling area very quickly, and headed down the unpaved path to the beach – a path I had become  familiar with over the past few weeks.

Before you head down to the actual beach there is a slight landing which overlooks the beach. There were hundred of people there waiting to head down to the beach for the swim. The same people that I would be swimming naked next to in a few minutes! EEK!!!

As I watched the people near me chatting away and laughing, it was impossible to not just be happy. Sounds simple, but often its not. Nervous sure, but the atmosphere was so relaxed and inviting that it felt exciting to be there. We watched wave 1-2 come out, and wave 3 go in, everyone with smiles on their faces enjoying the moment and the freedom that comes with being completely naked.

We were then told we could go down to the beach and that was when my nerves flared up again. I don’t think they were nerves because I didn’t want to do it, and I don’t think it was even because I was about to get naked. I think it was just my brain f*cking with me. Building it up into something that wasn’t justified.

So, I put my few possessions on the sand and spent the next 5-10 mins looking around at all the people.

Then I heard the announcer say it was time for wave 4 to start the swim. Funnily enough, I didn’t panic.I has practiced, I knew what to do. I took off my thongs, my glasses, put my goggles on my head, took off my knickers and finally, I took my dress off. I calmly walked into the water, dodging people on either side, trying not to stub my toe on the rocks, and just focused on what I had to do. Get. In. The Water. When I finally made it, it was certainly crisp, but I walked my way in and started swimming.

Unlike other ocean swims I’d done, there weren’t too many people around me, kicking, pushing, etc. It was a lot more respectful and calm. A big part of that I suspect is because it wasn’t timed. It was a leisurely swim for some, particularly those who took flippers, kick boards and noodles to help them finish the swim.

A minute or so in I did start to panic. During my first ocean swim at Coogee, I did mildly panic as I went out into deeper water, so I knew this may happen again. And it did, but it was easily managed by just focusing on my breathe and the swim. I closed my eyes for much of it so I didn’t need to look down below me. The unknown is always the most scary part for me. I went past the first buoy, then the second, then at the third which was the peak of the diamond shaped course. I remembered a comment a friend of mine made ‘Enjoy the experience’. So I stopped and looked around at the other swimmers, back to the beach which was colourful with cream flesh, and the Nudie purple from the beach umbrellas and towels across the entire beach. It was an amazing spectacle.

I then kept moving and reached the final buoy where I picked up my pace (it’s the racer in me). With only a short distance left, I decided to slow it down because I felt the experience was passing too quickly. So I flipped over onto my back and looked at the blue sky. After a few strokes, I rolled back over, but another woman was fairly close and swimming breaststroke….yeah…..I had goggles on (which were not fogged up at this stage), and I saw more than I needed to see as she was in the middle of frog kick. I worked my legs a bit harder and overtook her, another man, and was now so close to the beach that I stood up and walked out. I was greeted by some lovely volunteers who were handing out sarongs which I graciously accepted, unfolded and started to dry the front of my body as I walked up to my belongings.

It was done. Just like that. All those fears were no longer. I had just had a really pleasant leisurely trip to the beach – with hundreds of naked strangers.

I think what surprised me the most was how I didn’t feel naked in the water. There were times when you swam through colder parts of the water, and it felt like a piece of satin being draped over your arm, belly, or breast for a split second. I have said it before, but the experience felt very civilised and very community focused. Odd, I know, but it makes me think how powerful the mind is in discouraging someone from doing something they are not comfortable with. And that in itself is what this blog is about. And my involved in the swim was about. Pushing your boundaries and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone – you may find it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

So, after I dressed myself, I slowly made my way up the fairly steep hill back to the festival area. On the way I asked one of the workers what the time was – it was just after 10am, which meant I did the swim in about 15 mins. A size 22 woman, swam 900 metres in the ocean, naked, in less than 15 mins. Take that, critics! The best part, I wasn’t even puffed, I could have easily done another 900ms, no problem. Next time, I will do it twice.

As I walked up the hill I started chatting with a lovely man about the overall experience. He loved it as well! He used flippers, but he did complete the swim.

When I reached the top, I was met by my friend and was keen to find somewhere to put my bra back on before I started chatting to other people! We wandered around for awhile, looking at the stores, and patting a baby crocodile !

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My other friend Lucy then brought her baby D down, and the four of us hung out at the local cafe like it was any other Sunday.

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I am really pleased I did the swim. Despite my initial reaction, I’m glad to have pushed my boundaries the way I did – and it far exceeds just doing the swim. I’ve physically worked hard to increase my fitness, I’ve had some tough conversations with friends about the mental process. But, I have also taken the essence of who I am, and what I believe to very public forums. I have certainly been criticised for being me. But, I have also been accepted and defended by people who do, and don’t know me.

Going through the process has also made me realise how supportive and loving my friends are to me. Whether it be going for an extra walk, donating some money to charity or calling me to check in to find out how I am after vile comments were spewed my way. Or even just reading the blog, liking my status updates, and allowing me to be passionate about this topic. For being proud of me just the way I am. There are no words than can ever explain how grateful I am, but please know that it is true, honest, authentic, love.

I am also so grateful to Vision Personal Training Mosman for taking me under its wing and making me sweat and puff. The results speak for itself. My body is physically stronger, fitted and tighter. I have enjoyed heading into the gym and seeing everyones smily faces.

Blackmores – what an amazing company it is. For putting $1000 on the table for The Foundation of National Parks and Wildlife, no problem. Its generosity, and the generosity of my friends, means I can donate $1,770 to help preserve the local animals and plants. But, Blackmores did more than just put money on the table. They also provided me with advice, support and vitamins to help my body be strong and healthy for the swim.

I am sad to see the end of this journey as the process has been very good to, and for, me.

But, with anything in life, I always ask ‘what’s next?’. Well, I am pleased to say that I have decided to do the 9km jog as part of the Blackmores Running Festival in September. I am not a runner (definitely a water baby), so this will have its own unique challenges.

Another goal, is to feature (leading lady, of course!) in a professional music video. I am getting old (turning 30 this year), so if it’s going to happen, it needs to happen soon. I love to dance, and can shake my hips n booty like a polaroid picture. So, if anyone knows anyone in the music biz, please hook me up!

Thanks again for all your support!

xo

An interesting, and unexpected, day!

Today has been quite a monumental day for me.

My story of why I am participating in the Sydney Skinny was posted on Yahoo!7’s front page. The page averages a million hits PER DAY.

When I made the decision to pursue the story about positive body image, I knew there would a lot of debate and conversation – some positive and some negative. That’s exactly what I want – conversation is a good thing. The more society is exposed to different types of bodies, the better, but I’m not so naive to think my voice, style, shape or size would be to everyone’s taste.

Without a doubt the comments have been a mixed bag. There have been many very positive and encouraging comments, however there were also a lot of vile comments, many of which were removed by Yah00!7 ( I think those guys had a VERY busy day).

Is it wrong to say I enjoyed reading the comments? I had other things planned today, so I didn’t read them all, but I was amazed by how many men came out and said they were attracted to bigger women. I was also flawed by how many people, who wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap, fought for me. They fought for what I represent, and that is incredibly humbling. It proves that this issue is one of importance to many people, and they do want change.

Something I did find rather interesting though, were the comments regularly came back to sex. How attractive women are for men – whether they are large or small. But, I am surprised there wasn’t enough chatter about just being happy with yourself. Is being sexually attractive more important than a person having some peace of mind about who they are?

The issue of health did of course come up, but not as much as I was expecting. I was pleased to see some people say that being big doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy; or being skinny means you treat your body like a temple and you are in perfect health. I could be more healthy, sure, but I exercise regularly, I have good muscle mass and I eat very good quality food. Several years ago, I did a 1km ocean swim at Coogee with 12 hours notice and no training. I swan that race in about 18 mins – how many people would be comfortable doing that?

Today has taught me many things. I originally didn’t want to read the comments, but I am glad I did. Clearly I am much stronger than I originally thought, because I was alarmingly calm and unfazed by some of the most vile comments – particularly those which mentioned I should be ‘harpooned like a whale’. With many others, I even had a giggle because they were so ridiculous. But the biggest lesson, was how much of a fighter I am. I’ve always known it, but when you are sprayed with venom like I was today, and the only thing I want to do is have a louder voice, and fight harder it’s very telling of who I am. I hope you join me on my journey.

Nudist beach practice – round 2

Well, I did it!

I walked naked from the back of the beach to the water.

During my previous trip to Cobblers beach as practice for the Sydney Skinny Swim, I got naked, lay on the beach, and went for a splash. However, I just wasn’t ready to walk in the buff between my belongings on the beach into the water.

This time I went with a girlfriend. When I told people this, the first question they asked was “But wouldn’t that be more awkward?” My response was simple – “No, in fact having her there was like a security blanket”. We were in it together.

As we were walking down the beach to find ourselves a spot, the first thing I noticed was how many more women there were than last time. And, there were a lot of people – who knew going to a nudist beach was such a favourite pastime at 9am on a Sunday morning!

As soon as we put out stuff down, Laura whipped off her knickers and dress and stood there – she was ready for a swim! I was kind of expecting to get settled first but decided to follow suit. I had my knickers off and my dress around my waist when I started to panic again. It was the exact same feeling I had when I was trying to take my dress off last time. So while Laura wondered into the water, I stood there like an idiot with my dress on trying to build up the courage to do the same. I knew I could take it off and lay down – I did that last time.

So, after at least 5 minutes I made the choice to just do it. And I did. I put my dress down and I walked at least 15-20 metres into the nippy water NAKED.

As I walked, I just kept my attention on the water. I blocked everything else and focused on the task at hand. Surprisingly, I did try to d that, my brain just did it. Must have been the adrenalin!

This time around the water was very cold, so didn’t go in further than my waist. And I kept forgetting I was naked! It wasn’t until I started chatting to a French woman, that I remembered I was naked – and that’s because I kept seeing the reflection of my breasts in her sunglasses!!

Similarly to last time, it felt very civilised. People would say hello and come up for a chat.

The French woman and I had a particularly interesting conversation about nudism vs naturalists. What the difference was and different environments people live out their naked tendencies. She had frequented a camping ground in Europe where visitors were naked for the entire trip. Generations of people would be there together living in naked harmony. And it got me thinking….

If everyone did live more carefree and open to being naked (in a non sexual environment) would there be fewer rates of anorexia, bulimia and obesity? I am starting to think yes. I also wonder if it would reduce the rate of sexual crimes because the naked form wouldn’t be so taboo (I am certainly not saying the body isn’t sacred!). I don’t have any stats to back this up, but I look at my life and think if there wasn’t so much pressure to be a certain type of woman, with a certain type of body would the outcome for some of my friends and I be different? Would people, in particular women, have such guilt and self hatred towards themselves, and so judgemental towards others if they were exposed to different body shapes and sizes during their lives. I’m starting to think not….what about you?

I certainly don’t believe I am going to become a nudist or a naturalist, but I am really starting to see the value in being naked.

Let the jogging begin!

I jogged 5kms this morning.

Well, I didn’t jog the entire 5kms  – but most. I was also last, but whatevs! I wanted to give it ago despite never jogging outside the gym before, and even at the gym it has been for 2 mins or so.

WHY would I do this? Good question. Maybe I am just a bit crazy, but mostly because I saw the opportunity and took it. And I had nothing to lose, apart from my dignity but as I am swimming naked I feel that ship has already passed!

The run was hosted by Vision Personal Training Mosman and 2XU Mosman. 2XU is a sports clothing brand which I had never heard of until a few days ago. A woman mentioned she wore the compression socks while she worked out – she had lost 45kgs!! And they were hot pink, LOVE.

So I arrived at the shop right on 7:30am and was freaking out a bit. I’m not a runner! I was looking around and as the numbers increased I got more nervous. I was told it was for all fitness levels. All lies!! Everyone was fit and buff!! And in designer exercise gear. Apart from me who was walking around the shop shi*ting myself about the run, while everyone looked so fantastic! People were very friendly and the trainers at Vision promised to stay with me the entire way which they did. I always feel like I’m letting the team down when people stay with me. I don’t mind being left to my own devices. I may come last but as long as I finish, I’m good.

So, we headed down to the local oval for some warm ups – also not what I was expecting. I just wanted to start and not prolong this process anymore than necessary.

After about 15-20 mins of stretching, intros and jumping around (definitely using the technical terms here) we started. Oh, lordy had we started! So for the first few mins I was doing ok. I had a Vision trainer on either side of me, and we were jogging as a group down Military Road (me right at the very back). In these first few minutes I appreciated the collectiveness of the running group. It was social and everyone was looking at us, and I would go as far as I was enjoying the environment. After about 200 metres I started puffing but I kept jogging, or rather joddling. A term I made up for what it is I am actually doing – jogging and waddling. The group was so far ahead of us already that they were mere specks on the horizon, and then they were gone.

But again, whatevs. I need to start somewhere.

After goodness knows how long we arrived at another local park for some talks on how to run better. I inwardly laughed at this, because I was just attempting to stay alive rather than learning how to do the process more efficiently. And then they wanted us to run around the oval in bare feet. They wanted me to jog more than the 5kms?? I did.

Then we cracked on with the main jog. Again, I had my girls on either side encouraging me and keeping me company. Seriously, these people are amazing. These people are so good to me, it’s ridiculous! In all honesty, I don’t know where I would be without them. They have become my health guardian angels. Anyway, we kept stopping and starting but ended walking a chunk of the stretch home which is when I started talking. I cannot jog and talk, and I have a much stronger fondness towards talking. But, we did jog the final few hundred metres back. Hurray!!

There was a bike challenge when we got back to the shop which I didn’t participate in. I was too busy looking at the clothes which I must admit do look fashionable and practical. But, unfortunately they only go up to XXL (16-18) on some of the clothes. It baffles me that exercise brands don’t make bigger sizing?? Surely there is a logical (and high profitable) market for bigger people who want cool exercise clothing?!?!? They had hats – maybe I could get one of those.

In the end, I am really glad I did it. And I hope to continue attempting, and learning how to jog. It’s certainly not where I was expecting this blog journey to take me, but that’s ok. I’m open to all sorts of experiences which is what makes life interesting.

Here are some pics for you to enjoy:

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