Health Diary Week 12: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Not Obese – Take 2!

Image: Mediamodifier, Pixabay

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Hi and welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates…

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

… Finally, and phew! – I was starting to get worried and embarrassed that I wasn’t succeeding at this weight loss journey! However, this week I lost the 0.8 lb gained during the Winter festivities plus an additional 1.2 lbs. So, once again, I’m downgraded into the overweight/pre-obese category with a BMI of 29.8[1]. Also, my fat percentage reduced by 0.7%. Hoorah! Of course, there’s still much work to be done to get down to a BMI of 24.9 or less. So, let’s analyse what went right to try to replicate these results next week and keep that momentum going…

Week 12 results – really pleased with this!

Food and Nutrition

Let’s start with what food was on my plate, the healthy and not so healthy choices and identify any tweaks I could make to improve my nutrition…

Breakfast:

… Breakfasts have been mostly fruit. Admittedly, I skipped breakfast three times, though only because I’ve woken up later than usual (I don’t generally advocate missing breakfast):

Papaya with freshly squeezed lime – reminds me of my childhood!

Lunch:

I generally ate lunch early, midday(ish), due to light or missed breakfasts. Lunch was mostly salad-based – I love salad, so I’m happy to eat loads! – I had my My Typical Salad a few times, sandwiches and a Shawarma Kebab. Also, I had a Mediterranean-style scrambled tofu (leftover from dinner) in a pitta bread:

Top left: Quorn slices, Sainsbury’s vegan coleslaw & salad sandwich. Top right: my ‘Typical salad’ with Strong Roots courgette & spinach hash browns (the hash browns weren’t on their website – they were tasty though!). Bottom left: my Shawarma kebab. Bottom right: Quorn slices & salad sandwich.

Dinner:

My dinners were varied, although unusually several convenience meals, including:
M&S Plant Kitchen sweet potato and cashew Sri Lankan curry
– M&S sag aloo, M&S Plant Kitchen onion bhajis & Tilda wholegrain pilau rice
Amy’s Kitchen rice mac & cheeze
Ugo Thrive Pumpkin and sage raviolini
– M&S ‘chick’n’ nuggets, oven chips and baked beans:

This week’s convenience dinners
Nutrition Traffic Light System:

Being me, I was intrigued about how these foods rated on the traffic light system – so, whether their fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt content rated as red (high), amber (medium) or green (low). It’s recommended we restrict red-lighted foods and mainly have a mix of green and amber[2]. Some of my foods were conveniently traffic lighted, whilst for others I had to compare the nutritional information on the back of the packs against the traffic light values[2]. Thankfully, my choices were okay, being a mix of green and amber lights. Another strategy is to be aware of amber lighted foods close to becoming red and trying to restrict these too:

Nutritional traffic light labelling system per 100g[2]. Some foods are labelled on the front of the pack, others you need to check the ‘Nutritional information’ on the back of the pack.

Additionally, I had a couple of freshly prepared dinners. My highlight was a mushroom stroganoff with tagliatelle made with Elmlea plant single cream leftover from Christmas. I was concerned about the cream’s fat content – whilst total fat was acceptable at 15.4% (amber), saturated fat was high (red) at 6.5% per 100 grams. But I’d like it again sometime, so I’ll try a silken tofu (green lighted at 0.5% saturated fat) sauce version instead. Talking of tofu, I had a pack that needed using, so I made a Mediterranean-style scrambled tofu with sundried tomatoes, olives and peppers from the food cupboard, since fresh food supplies were low (it’s always worth having a good store cupboard stock for such situations):

Top: Mushroom stroganoff & tagliatelle (delicious!). Bottom: Med-style scrambled tofu – sundried tomato, bell peppers, olives & Linda McCartney red onion & rosemary sausages (very filling!)

Alcohol and Snacking:

Importantly, I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve not touched a drop of alcohol since my New Year’s Eve binge. I think the alcohol exclusion has attributed to no late-night snacking. Although interestingly on the snack-front, I’ve eaten some chocolate every day – just a few squares here-and-there. Thankfully, this didn’t impact on my results this week, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on, as its high sugar and fat content can soon add up. Other snacks were savoury – hummus with either toasted pitta or Peckish sea salt & vinegar rice crackers:

Image: 13smok, Pixabay

Exercise

My physical activity totalled just over six hours. I did two hours of circuits – I’ve missed the boxing pad station too much, so I’m just using my left-hand, while my right wrist injury recovers. I did over three hours on the exercise bike, whilst reading – it takes my mind off cycling, whilst maintaining a decent pace. The rest of the time involved walking. I can track this more easily now since downloading ‘Active 10’ – a ‘Public Health England’ walking app that includes measuring a brisk pace[3].

Left: Pre-circuits serious readiness. Right: Post-circuits happy-completion face (& somewhat dishevelled look)!

Positive Progress

All-in-all it’s been a good week and I’m making progress again – small steps that slowly accumulate results. So, a reminder to myself – speedy results don’t necessarily mean long-term success – keep doing what you’re doing – you’ll succeed!…

Baby Galapagos giant tortoise, 2008

“Thus plain plodding people, we often shall find, will leave hasty confident people behind”(The hare & the tortoise: Aesop’s Fables, Jefferys Taylor version).

Week 13>>>
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References

1. World Health Organization: Regional Office for Europe, 2019. Body mass index – BMI [online]. Available from: www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/nutrition/a-healthy-lifestyle/body-mass-index-bmi.
2. British Nutrition Foundation, 2018. Helping you eat well: Looking at labels [online]. Available from: www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/helpingyoueatwell/324-labels.html?start=3.
3. Public Health England, Ca. 2019. Active 10: Exercise made easy [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/oneyou/active10/home.

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Health Diary Week 7: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Who’s No Longer Obese?… Me! Yes, Me!

Image: Susanne Jutzeler suju-foto from Pixabay

Hi and welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates…

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I think the title might have given away my results this week! I lost a whopping 2.8 lb. While this is fantastic news, it has to be said, I’ve still got a lot of work to do, as I’m still pre-obese with a BMI of 29.9[1]. Also, my fat percentage didn’t change, which was a little disappointing. However, I’m celebrating the positives here today…

My week 7 results

Food and Nutrition

So, let’s have a look at what food was on my plate, the healthy and not so healthy choices and identify any tweaks I could make to improve my nutrition…

Breakfast:

Four of my breakfasts were fruit-based, I had cereal one day and skipped breakfast once as I wasn’t hungry. Here’s a wrong move (don’t do this!) – embarrassingly, on Saturday I had a very unhealthy breakfast of crisps leftover from the previous evening after a night out – thankfully this didn’t appear to damage my weight results, but probably attributed to no fat percentage drop:  

Freshly chopped fruit salad – I want some of this now!

Lunch:

Back to my better actions… lunches were three of My Typical Salads, a Quorn slices and salad sandwich, leftover curry, a restaurant meal and one skipped lunch. I was worried about lunching out on Saturday, as it’s easy to choose unhealthy options. I think I did well though – despite being tempted by high fat foods, I chose a tasty mushroom enchilada with green rice and side salad. I’ll admit I also had a sneaky cola – my ‘go to’ hangover drink (say no more!).

My mushroom enchilada from Wahaca

Dinner:

The meal I was most worried about calorie and saturated fat-wise was Friday’s dinner at the Mauritian restaurant Lakaz Maman, because I already knew what I was going to order.  I shared a starter of cauliflower poppers, an alternative to deep-fried chicken. For main, I chose the creole coconut milk-based curry with gato piment (deep-fried chilli cakes). It was all delicious – unfortunately I totally forgot to take pictures. Dinners at home included veg fajitas, shop-bought curry sides with brown rice, Shawarma Salad Kebab and chia-protein nuggets, baked beans and oven chips.

Left: Tuesday’s tarka dhal & Bombay potatoes with brown rice, poppadum & pickles. Right: Wednesday’s fajita veg (Monday’s leftovers) with avocado, salsa & brown rice.

Snacks:

I didn’t snack much this week and when I did, I chose healthier options – it wasn’t something I consciously tried to do but worked out well regardless. Snacks included hummus with pitta bread/rice crackers and mixed unsalted nuts. The great thing about nuts is that in appropriate portions they’re cholesterol-lowering[2] – so I portion them into a ramekin to avoid over-eating because they’re so moreish!:

How I portion out nuts into a ramekin.

Exercise

My physical activity was over nine hours-worth, so I’m surprised my fat percentage didn’t decrease at all. I did two hours of circuit training, one and a half hours on the exercise bike and the rest through general walking about. However, without this much activity, I may not have lost as much (if any) weight.

A Positive Week

It’s been great having a positive week, especially with the Winter festivities and Christmas fast-approaching – I just need to try to stay on track despite temptations!…

Image: Mari Ana from Pixabay

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next Wednesday for another catch up.

Week 8>>>
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References

1. World Health Organisation: Regional Office for Europe, 2019. Body mass index – BMI [online]. Available from: www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/nutrition/a-healthy-lifestyle/body-mass-index-bmi.
2. Heart UK, Ca. 2019. Ultimate cholesterol lowering plan. Step 3: The four UCLP© foods [online]. Available from: www.heartuk.org.uk/ultimate-cholesterol-lowering-plan/uclp-step-3.

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Health Diary Week 0: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

The Starting Point (I’ve got to do this!)

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Photo by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay.

Background

…So, today it starts seriously. I need to sort out my weight and fitness levels. I’m fed up with disliking the way I look (I’m avoiding looking in full-length mirrors and my clothes don’t fit), but more importantly I want to be healthy and my body hurts from the excess weight on my joints.

My harsher side feels ashamed that I let myself go again. My kinder side reminds me not to beat myself up – the past five years have involved intense studying, with long hours sat in front of a computer and high stress levels.

Photo by Ambadi Sasi from Pixabay.

Now I’m at my heaviest again – last time was due to a long-term jogging injury to my feet when I was 33. For several years I couldn’t stand more than 30 minutes before experiencing excruciating pain (a pain always in the background now). A referral to a podiatrist revealed hypermobility[1] and I was advised my days of high impact sport were over. No more jogging or tennis for me. I was gutted!

The changing shape of me!

Current Situation

But back to now… a few weeks ago I decided I really needed to take some action, as my stomach was noticeably bigger, I couldn’t fit into most of my clothes and my boots wouldn’t zip-up around my calves! My self-esteem has gradually decreased as I’ve become bigger and I want to feel healthy again.

My calf-boot-zip issue!

Planning Stage

… I set up a spreadsheet (I’m a bit of a nerd!) to record my progress. This included a diary to monitor my sleep (poor sleep being a potential contributory factor in weight gain – more on this later), diet (I’ll explain food choices in following blogs), activity (exercise, social events) and health (both physical and mental).

Additionally, I decided to keep a food diary for at least a month, possibly 3, so that I can analyse results better.

My slightly nerdy spreadsheet.

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Okay, this is the incredibly uncomfortable part!

I weighed myself, which I found highly depressing – 175 lb (79 kg) at 160cm tall (5 ft 3 inches), placing me in the ‘obese class 1‘ category with a BMI of 31[2]. My scales calculated 43.4% of me was fat! According to the Salter scales handbook, women in their 40s need to aim for 24-34% fat. However, I’ve read that these bioimpedance scales aren’t necessarily accurate for measuring fat, although they do provide a good indication of which direction fat percentage is moving, so I’ll keep recording this regardless.

The dreaded scales!

Scarily, my waist circumference was 100 cm, 20 cm more than the recommendation for European Caucasian women, indicating abdominal obesity and a ‘very high risk’ of developing a metabolic disease (e.g. heart disease, type 2 diabetes)[3]. It’s crucial I sort this out!

Feeling Motivated

Motivated to take further action by these scary results, I followed up with a session on my exercise bike – an intended everyday activity.

My fold-up exercise bike (handy in limited living space).

So, here I am, at the beginning of another health journey – one that will likely have some ‘downs‘ along with the ‘ups’. However, now I don’t feel like I’m doing this alone, as I’ll be reporting my progress to those willing to read these blogs (you) and perhaps you’ll even join me with your own personal journey back to health…

Week 1>>>
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References

1. Hypermobility Syndromes Association, 2017. What are hypermobility syndromes? [online]. Available from: www.hypermobility.org/what-are-hypermobility-syndromes.
2. World Health Organisation: Regional Office for Europe, 2019. Body mass index – BMI. Available from: www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/nutrition/a-healthy-lifestyle/body-mass-index-bmi.
3. Alberti, K. G. M. M., Eckel, R. H., Grundy, S. M., Zimmet, P.Z., Cleeman, J. I., Donato, K. A., Fruchart, J., James, P. T., Loria, C. M. and Smith, S. C., 2009. Harmonizing the metabolic syndrome: a joint interim statement of the international diabetes federation task force on epidemiology and prevention; National heart, lung, and blood institute; American heart association; World heart federation; International atherosclerosis society; and International association for the study of obesity. Circulation [online], 120, 1640-1645. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192644.

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