01 March 2015 Last updated

Life Challenge Week 3: Inga Stevens

Life Challenger Inga runs for a cause and sticks to her diet at a wedding

Aquarius magazine
22 Mar 2012 | 10:30 am
  • Run/Cycle Against Hunger

    Inga will be taking part in the Run/Cycle Against Hunger in aid of the UN World Food Programme.

    Source:Supplied picture

Week three, day one

Lady of leisure

Today is a ‘me’ day. I’ve taken the day off work to get ready for a good friend’s beautiful garden-wedding taking place tomorrow. I can’t begin to describe how excited I am for the happy couple; love really does have a way of crossing over cultures and bringing wonderful people together. This Life Challenge has really got me thinking about the importance of being loved and being in love. I’m living on my own for the first time in life and, while the freedom to get-up-and-go as I please has a certain je ne sais quoi, I do hope that my own installment of love, companionship and weddings is just around the corner somewhere.

I’m up early for my morning jog. There are fewer birds around this morning; but plenty of dog walkers and security guards lazily cycling around their beat. I count the lamp posts as I jog past and I’m pleased to notice that my ‘walk breaks’ are getting fewer and farther between. Jogging for 10 minutes in one go is a personal victory. The last time I did that was in 2009.

Hair appointment. Check. Manicure. Check. Grocery shop. Check. Glass of wine. Check. Early night in with a dog-eared copy of Jo Nesbo’s Snowman. Check. 

Week three, day two

Wedding on a diet

My top tips for sticking to your diet while at a wedding: 

  • When the waiter comes by with the canapé tray, pretend you don’t speak English, it confuses them and they walk away
  • Wear ridiculously high heels (at least 10 inch) as it deters you from making an extra trip to the buffet table
  • Ask a friend to secretly replace your glass of bubbly with sparkling low-fat grape juice
  • Dance like a lunatic (your thighs will be screaming blue murder by the end of the night). 

Week three, day three

Goodbye to kitchen clutter

It’s not often that I spend my Saturday cleaning out my kitchen cupboards but what the heck. It’s now or never if I want to finally get rid of that packet of salt and vinegar crisps cunningly hidden on the top shelf, or the half-eaten tub of Pralines & Cream crying out my name every time I open the freezer. 

I’ve made a trip to our friendly neighbourhood Swedish home-convenience store and I’ve stocked up on Tupperware containers and storage baskets. I even splashed out on a new set of dish cloths and a disturbingly-kitsch apron. Those show-kitchens are tantalisingly organised and I am determined to transform my kitchenette into a stylish health-food haven fit for even the most demanding chef. 

The first to go is the processed food. A tin of Mexican refried beans. A jar of tomato salsa with a ridiculously high sugar content. Then it’s the unnecessary white carbs. A bag of white basmati rice (which seems to be housing a family of weevils anyway) and a loaf of frozen white toast bread. The final items to get the chop are the sugars – a bag of Finnish chocolates (sorry mum!), sugary homemade strawberry jam and a jar of chocolate spread. 

It’s all looking pretty bare and not nearly as stylish as I envisioned, but at least there is no chance of falling off the wagon now. My plan seems fail proof and I can rest easy, that no matter how much I want to deviate from my meal plan, it is now virtually impossible. 

Week three, day four

Past, present and future

My thoughts were all over the place today. I left both my gym kit and my wallet at home this morning; I forgot to lock my front door; I left my fork at home so had to eat my salad with a spoon; I forgot to top up my parking meter so I had to plead for mercy with the grumpy parking attendant and, to top it all off, I drove past my turn-off on the way home. 

I can only describe this as the culmination of what happens when a control freak suddenly decides to stop worrying about every little detail. Chaos. But a curiously pleasant state of chaos. I actually secretly enjoyed the fact that I was almost late for work. I felt powerful, in control of my own destiny. I even enjoyed the banter with the parking attendant and eating salad with a spoon was rather liberating (despite the funny looks). 

Last night’s life coaching session with Patricia clearly had more of an effect on me than I had dared to hope for. It is baby steps for now but who knows, this time next year I might be a career bum; hanging out on a tropical beach somewhere in South East Asia, writing a book, sipping cocktails, listening to reggae and generally being relaxed. Here’s to hoping! 

Week three, day five

A hungry runner running for hunger

My incredibly supporting friends have sneakily coerced me into signing up for a 10K fun run next week. To tell you the truth, the thought alone is enough to turn my legs to jelly, but I am hoping it will give me an extra boost for this week’s work out. I have exactly eight days to convince everyone that I can pound the pavement like a pro. After all, the run is in support of the UN World Food Programme so if I don’t do it, I won’t be the only one I’ll be letting down.

Just in case anyone is inspired to take part, here is the poster

Lily Mueller, nutritionist, says: “Inga is doing really well, she is very motivated and really doing her utmost to stick to the meal plan. She is familiar with most foods and, after a few hungry evenings, she has now increased her lunch and pre-gym snack and is not as hungry anymore after her work out. Now she’s just eating a light snack after her workout so that she goes to bed fully-digested and ready to get up in the morning to enjoy a healthy and nutritious breakfast. She feels very strongly about quitting smoking so we are putting her through some anti-smoking acupuncture sessions. Come on Inga, you can do it!” 

Week three, day six


Imagine flying up high in the sky along a timeline of your life. Could you pinpoint the first time you felt sadness? Or, how about anger, or hurt? Now close your eyes and let yourself float back into one of those memories. Really let yourself feel the emotion, as raw and as overwhelming as it was the first time you experienced it. This is the process that Patricia took me through in my last life coaching session.

The idea is not to dwell on the painful emotion, but to recognise where it stemmed from, to learn from it and then to have the ability to imagine moving forward in your life without relying on this emotional trigger. I did it with my eyes closed as it helped me really set the scene for my own timeline – it looked like a train-track along the surface of the Earth with a beautiful sunset setting over the edge of the horizon representing my future.

Seeing that beckoning glow of the sun made it really easy to picture how simply releasing any negative emotions you carry around with you (mostly without even knowing it) can get you one step closer to the future of your dreams. It may sound silly but it feels like just imagining reaching that dream is enough to propel you on your way. 

Oh, and this song was playing in my head the whole time. Could it get any better than this? 

Week three, day seven


Busy Bee

How AMAZING would it be to be your own boss?? I have this crystal clear vision of what my life would be like if I wasn’t tied to an office for 10 hours a day. I’d wake up around 8am and tootle over to the gym for a relaxing session of yoga, followed by a healthy homecooked brekkie of eggs Florentine. I’d settle in for a few hours work on my book (I even have the subject and title all planned out in my mind!) before heading out to run some personal errands (oh, to have the time to actually pop in to the bank once in a while to sort out these finances of mine) and then perhaps meet a girlfriend for a coffee. Back to the flat for an afternoon session on the book then an evening cardio-fest at the gym before enjoying an early night in with a book. If I was to go all out on this daydream of mine, I’d throw a few kiddies in there somewhere as well as a doting husband and, halas, that is the perfect life for me.

Needless to say, that is not really what happened today. Instead, I woke up at 7am prepared a packed breakfast and lunch and got to my PR training workshop by 8:30am. I rushed back to the office for a 12:30pm meeting (which I was late to as the car park outside my office is like a scene from Gladiator around lunch time), managed to trawl through 200 emails by 5:30pm after which I headed down the highway to the gym for a workout (which was torture by the way, I think Ahmed thinks that there will be some kind of fitness exam at the end of the Life Challenge so he’s on a mission to make me into a push-up queen, bless him) before meeting my visiting friends for dinner (the seabass steamed in banana leaves was heavenly) at 8:30pm. I was home by 11pm and in bed by midnight. 

OK, I know I am a bit of a moaning Minnie today, but it strikes me as slightly ironic that my my dream day and my real day are so different when I am actually the one in charge of my life. You wouldn’t think so, would you?



Aquarius magazine

Aquarius magazine

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