Saturday, April 16, 2011

On The Couch: The Real Housewives Are Back!

Praise the reality TV gods because Real Housewives Ramona, Alex, LuAnn, Jill, Kelly and Sonja are back in full force and this season they've even roped in a new recruit – single mum Cindy. So as season four kicks off, let's see where the ladies are at...

  • Ramona makes her own pinot grigio now, which you just know she would have put through the most thorough taste-testing.
  • Jill reckons she's "grown and learnt" from all the drama of last year, but her behaviour seems to suggest otherwise. "I'm going to be nice," she tells Kelly. "I can't help who I am and I am nice." Girl needs a nice reality check, pronto.
  • Kelly is still insisting "I'm not crazy" – which really only proves how dillusional she really is.
  • Sonja is still wearing uber-short skirts and dresses that threaten to fall off, which might explain how she nabbed herself hot new boyfriend Brian.
  • LuAnn is in love and it's enough to make you want to gag. But, hey, at least the Countess seems to have stopped trying to pursue a music career.
  • Alex is working as a model. But lucky she's got friends like Kelly to keep her grounded and remind her, "It doesn't mean you're pretty."
  • We get introduced to new Housewife Cindy, who you know you're going to hate from the minute she tells you, "I never thought I could be this happy." And rest assured, you'll never be this happy again if you keep hanging out with these ladies.
  • And no episode could ever be complete without an epic fashion fail from Simon. This time, he's teaming a tartan blazer with leather pants. No points for trying. 

I've got a feeling this is going to be one helluva season. Bring on the bitch fest!

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    On The Couch: Barney's Version

    What's the story? I had no real intention of ever seeing this movie. My dad told me he and Mum were going to see it and asked if I wanted to come. "What's it about?" I asked. "No idea," said Dad. And all Mum knew was that it got four stars in the paper. So I googled the trailer (so at least one of us would have a vague idea of what we were all shlepping to Leichardt to see) and in a nutshell the film tells the story of the bold and impulsive Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) and his three marriages.

    Why it's worth paying $17.50 to see... The trailer might sell this as a funny flick, and it does have it's laugh-out-loud moments, but what results from this quirky little film is actually a very touching version events from a character who, despite all his flaws, is actually very likeable. There might not be many big names in the rolling credits but Dustin Hoffman is fantastic as Barney's eccentric father, making this underrated gem well worth a look if you can get to one of the few art house cinemas showing it.

    Hilary Duff Loves Piloxing.

    Not familiar? Neither was I, so let me break it down for you... Pilates + Boxing = Piloxing. The workout aims to give you all the body sculpting benefits of boxing – without any intimidating masculine energy. You get my drift?

    If you're intrigued, this video will give you an idea of what it's all about...

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    I'll Have My Creme Egg, er, Deep Fried?

    Yep, you heard right. British chip-shop owner Martyn Bilby has put deep-fried Cadbury Creme Eggs on the menu. But that "doughnut shell" almost doubles the 173-calorie count of the traditional Cadbury Easter treat.

    "I'm not saying they are healthy," he admits.

    You don't say, Martyn... I can already feel my arteries clogging up.

    All This Working Out Is Making Me Hungry.

    Daily Mail

    Just after she was spotted chowing down not one, but two plates of food at an LA deli last week, everone's favourite reality TV star Kim Kardashian asked the big question: "Why is it that the more I work out the hungrier I am!" she tweeted.

    I hear you, sister. When I hit up the gym in the morning, by the time I get to my desk at nine, I'm so hungry I could eat my arm. Even after my muesli, I need a cup of tea and lunch by 12.30pm. And I'm not the only one. I remember telling a girl I used to work with that she looked fabulous, like she'd lost a few kilos. "Thanks, I have lost a bit of weight," she said. "I stopped going to the gym." Say what?

    Apparently she found when she stopped working out, she ate less. It reminded me of this really interesting article I read in Time magazine a while back that argued that exact same point: why exercise won't make you thin. No one can deny the health benefits of regular exercise, but what's your take? Do you cancel it out by eating more?


    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Run Like A Girl.

    $34.99, Lorna Jane

    My Lorna Jane wishlist is already about a mile long. But I think this singlet just shot to the number one spot.

    "I'm Fat, But I Tell Myself I Look Fine."

    Fat 2 Fit

    We've all read about people who suffer from anorexia – who look at themselves in the mirror and see their thin bodies distorted into something fat and ugly. But this week I came across a post from psychiatrist and blogger Robin Altman who talks about "Reverse Body Dysmorphic Sydrome". She's pre-diabetic, doctors have told her she needs to lose 9kg and yet she convinces herself she's looking good just the way she is...

    "This is how my [Reverse Body Image Distortion Disorder] works.  I get dressed in the morning to go to work.  I put on makeup and do my hair.  I then check out the mirror.  I don’t see a middle aged, chubby, short woman.  I see a willowy beauty.  And I think, “Hey, I look pretty cute!”.  Then I whistle my way out the door... When viewing pictures of myself, the first image is of a short, chubby, smiling little midget standing next to my handsome husband and sons.  For a split second doubt flickers.  But then RBIDD kicks in.  I think to myself, “Something must be wrong with that camera,” or “Everyone knows that the camera puts a minimum of 20 pounds on you”.  And, kazaam!  I’m happy again.  I might even eat a cookie to wipe away the momentary unpleasantness."

    When I did a little research, I realised that there are more women out there experencing this Reverse Body Dysmorphic Syndrome, who need to lose weight but manage to convince themselves that they look fine. Is this an issue we need to start shining a light on?

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Finally, The News I've Been Waiting To Hear...

    According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, "Retail terapy doesn't just perk you up, it could help you live longer." Well, hallelujah!

    A recent study found that in older people, shopping every day was linked with a reduced mortality risk of up to 28% for men and 23% for women. But before you go forth and max out your Visa, it wasn't the thrill of a new pair of Jimmy Choos that emerged as the key to a longer life. Instead, researchers say it had more to do with the physical activity and the social aspect...

    "In shopping venues, socializing with or watching others can provide social and mental benefits," the authors wrote. "Loneliness may be ameliorated through relationships away from home in commercial venues that nevertheless provide opportunities for companionship and emotional support."

    So, who's up for a trip to Westfields?

    What Happened To Hot Cross Buns?

    Chocolate-chip Hot Cross Buns

    My dad makes a mean hot cross bun. But he only makes them on Good Friday and he only makes them with fruit. The first time I came home with a choc-chip version from Bakers Delight, I knew he was disappointed (mainly because he said, "Alice, I'm really disappointed).

    It's not that my dad is at all religious, it's just that he believes in the sanctity of food. And Dad can't see why you'd take a perfectly good fruit bun and replace the raisins with chocolate. Me? I think they taste divine either way.

    But the fact is, those chocolate ones aren't doing the diet any favours, so if you want to stick to the traditional version this Easter, try this classic recipe from Aussie cooking legend Margaret Fulton...

    You'll need...

    •  4 cups (600g) plain flour
    • 1 tsp mixed spice
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 60g butter, softened, plus extra to serve
    • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
    • 7g sachet dried yeast
    • 1/2 cup (80g) sultanas or currants
    • 1 cup (250ml) lukewarm milk, plus extra, for brushing
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten or extra milk, for glazing
    • 1/3 cup (50g) self-raising flour
    • 2 tbsps warm water
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1/4 tsp gelatine

    Here's what you need to do...

    1. Sift flour, spice and salt in a bowl. Rub in butter, until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in sugar, yeast and sultanas or currants.

    2. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients. Stir in ½ cup warm water, milk and egg, gradually incorporating surrounding flour to mix to a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and place in a clean, greased bowl. Turn over once so that top of dough is greased.

    3. Cover bowl completely with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1-1 1/2 hours until doubled in bulk.

    4. Lightly grease a baking tray, two 20cm cake pans or a larger round cake pan. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat out to 3cm thickness. Cut into 14 pieces and gently shape each into a ball, always keeping the tops uppermost as you shape to keep them nice and smooth. Place buns on prepared tray or cake pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 20-30 mins.

    5. Preheat oven to 200C or 180C fan. Brush buns with beaten egg or extra milk. Combine self-raising flour and ¼ cup water in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon into a snap lock bag, snip end and pipe crosses on buns.

    6. Bake buns for 15 mins, until golden brown. Meanwhile stir together water, sugar and gelatine until sugar has dissolved. Brush hot buns with glaze and stand buns near open and turned-off oven, until glaze is dry. Serve warm or toasted with butter if you like.

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    On The Couch: It's Time To Go... Lara.

    The Biggest Loser

    I'll confess, I got a bit teary watching The Biggest Loser last night with both Lara and Meg both up for elimination. Watching these two girls get glammed up on the makeover episodes earlier in the week was amazing. They've lost a whopping 36.7kg and 44.7kg respectively – and they've done it all in just ten short weeks.

    But while it's been quick, it certainly hasn't been easy. We've seen these girls slogging it out in the gym with their trainers – no shortcuts, no excuses. Even when her other family members were struggling, Lara was just getting in there and getting on with the job. It's been a very impressive show of girl power and I'm a little sad to see Lara go, but I can't wait to see what girlfriend looks like at finale.

    As for the remaining six, who are you rooting for to take out The Biggest Loser crown?

    How Tweet It Is.

    I first got Twitter about two years ago. I was working at Shop Til You Drop and our ed had just heard about this awesome new social networking tool that everyone was saying would be the new Facebook. We had to be ahead of the curve. We all had to start tweeting.

    I used it as a way to share all of my thoughts (even the most boring and irrelevant ones) and suffice to say, the novelty wore off pretty quickly – there wasn't really much time for tweeting between the crazy deadlines of a monthly magazine. But I've since signed up to Twitter again and this time I'm loving it.

    Because this time, I'm using Twitter to listen. There are a lot of interesting people and businesses tweeting out there and even if you have nothing to say, there's still a lot you can get out other people's tweets – especially where health, fitness and wellbeing is concerned. So I thought I'd quickly share some of my favourite health tweeters...

    @womenshealthaus: The clever clogs at Women's Health magazine consistently provide interesting links to articles, interviews and recipes – and they even tweet on weekends.

    @SusieBurrell: One of Australia's leading nutritionists, Susie always has good tips and an everygirl approach.

    @nytimeshealth: Your go-to for interesting articles on all things health-related. (Also see @nytimeswell where blogger Tara Parker-Pope gives you her take on the latest news and findings.)

    @_sarahwilson_: She's all about making life a little better and if you don't read her blog, you really should.

    @SELFmagazine: Don't scoff. Self actually posts a lot of really good ideas and links.

    @MishBridges: Because Michelle Bridges is fabulous. Even on Twitter.

    @chewoverthis: Nutritionist Kathleen Alleaume doesn't post so often she'll overrun your TweetDeck, but when she does, it's always thought provoking.

    And for the TV addicts... @vulture: It's New York Magazine's entertainment and culture blog and is worth a look for the hi-larious episode recaps alone.

    Of course, if you want to follow me, you can @fitcouchpotato. Who are the most interesting people you follow?