Health Diary Week 79: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Sunny Spring

Beautiful blossom and blue sky on one of my walks

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Hi, welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate: health updates, meal creations and smile-provoking experiences.

Covid Adminstrator shifts – yay!

I was concerned that I hadn’t heard back about starting my role as “Covid Administrator” despite chasing it up. So, I was talking to my parents about how I was going to consider other NHS temp bank positions, when I received a phone call to obtain my availability for shifts at the vaccine centre – how exciting! I’m going to work three days per week for now, starting next week (at time of writing, this week!). I’ll let you know how it goes in my next post.

Histamine update

It was a rough week with the histamine issues. I suspect the high tree pollen count contributed to the problem. The symptoms (cold-like) gradually worsened throughout the week and by Thursday (after my morning walk) I was completely floored for the rest of the day. I’m worried about how I will cope at work if I can’t control these symptoms. How can I possibly not appear scarily germy and manage to wear a mask all day?

So, I completed another e-Consult Doctor’s form requesting referral to an Immunology Clinic and asking if I could try mast cell stabilisers (to calm down the cells that release histamine) – I’ve started wondering whether my issue is more to do with over-active mast cells, rather than a histamine intolerance (a problem with the enzymes that break down histamine). I need professional medical help to figure this out. In the meantime, I’m being extra careful again about minimising histamine food risks:

Some of my low histamine meals this week. Clockwise: Pasta salad. Veg and seed rice. Veg and seed noodles. Fennel steaks with homemade chips and notomato sauce

Exercise: Walking rewards

I was really pleased with myself for going out walking every day this week, despite feeling unwell. “Active 10” recognised my efforts and gave me three rewards this week: “1,000 Club” for reaching over 1,000 minutes brisk walking since I first downloaded the app, “High Five” for five out of seven days brisk walking (I achieved seven days) and “Perfect Week” for hitting my brisk walking target everyday – go me! But, I still gained a pound (0.45 kg) in weight – it doesn’t seem fair:

My Active 10 rewards and week’s walking record. Clockwise: Perfect Week. High Five. My week’s walks. 1,000 Club

Food creation: Baked oats

I had to give the baked porridge oats another try (details here), of course with a few improvements. This time I added blueberries, as well as the fresh apple and black cherry jam (I’d also meant to add quinoa flakes, but completely forgot!). And, after baking I added a drizzle of macadamia nut butter – absolutely delicious!:

Food creation: Baked oats with blueberry, apple, black cherry jam and a macadamia nut butter drizzle

Food creation: Egg-free ‘omelette’

It’s been a while since I’ve made one of my ‘omelettes’ for lunch, so I decided it was about time I made one again. (Okay, so this wasn’t actually an omelette, but I don’t know what else to call it, so ‘omelette’ will have to suffice for now). The base was a mix of cornmeal and quinoa flakes, whilst the filling was yellow pepper, courgette/zucchini and seeds. I got a bit carried away with the seed topping! I had three portions leftover to freeze – bonus. The omelette accompanied my usual salad (I need to write a post sometime about my new typical salad since being on a low histamine diet):

My egg-free ‘omelette’ creation, accompanied by my new typical salad

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

It’s been a good week, if we ignore the histamine issues. We had glorious sunshine culminating in lots of outside time, including socialising with friends…

Socials and a kitten:

My social week included a lovely online catch up with Marjory, whilst I was sat outside bird watching and enjoying the sunshine. Also, I visited Tina and Ben and enjoyed a chat in their sunny garden spot – so nice to see friends in real life. And, I walked up to Bevy and Harry’s to meet Loki, their new, adorable Maine Coon kitten (and socialise with Bevy, and Harry of course):

Kitten cuteness. Top right: Loki, the Maine Coon, when he first arrived home. Other pics: Loki now. Awww – cute, cute, cute!

Dragonfly visitor:

A dragonfly landed on me while I was quietly sat reading in the garden. I love dragonflies:

Dragonfly. Image: Tanuj Handa, Pixabay

Cactus corner:

I was admiring the new cactus corner in the conservatory, when I noticed that my real-life cactus plant was flowering – I’ve had that cactus for years – it’s the only one that survived from a set of four. I was also impressed by Mum’s latest ‘repair shop’ work on my fake cacti – I wish there was a before-and-after photo, because Mum did such a good job of livening them back up with a bit of skilful painting and adding decorative flowers:

Cactus corner. My real-life flowering cactus and Mum’s cacti repair work

The case of mistaken identity:

I finally realised that my neighbour’s cat, “Not Molly” is in fact “Molly”. I was concerned that Molly was no longer coming to visit, and her elusive brother was visiting instead. But when I was discussing this with my parents, my Dad, said “Are you sure this isn’t Molly?”. I was convinced it wasn’t Molly, because this one had a moustache. But then I looked back through my photos and realised Molly did indeed have a moustache and was clearly the same cat – how could I not have noticed the moustache before? I felt so silly, but also relieved Molly is okay:

Cat confusion:“Not Molly” is “Molly”

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 week for another catch up.

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Article: Probably ‘That’ Coronavirus: My Symptoms

By Katey Watson, July 2020

Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay

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Disclaimer: I wasn’t tested for COVID-19, so I don’t know for sure if it was ‘That’ virus; however, I strongly suspect it was – I’ll update this article accordingly if I find out for sure.

Introduction

I thought I’d share my symptoms of ‘probably’ COVID-19 for anyone who’s curious, as I’m interested in peoples’ varied experiences, so I thought you might be too.

Pre-Virus

During the 14 days leading up to my first symptoms (13 March 2020), I had several social contacts: On the 14th day before my symptoms occurred (only 19 total UK COVID-19 cases had been reported in the UK, none in my area) I hosted my open house Birthday party with a total of 20 guests, some travelling from further afield, including London. Over the following days, I went to circuit training, a Jobs Fair in the city centre (I used public transport), local busy pub night, dentist appointments and met two friends from outside my city of residence (two of us used public transport). In hindsight, I’m annoyed with myself for not being more cautious, but then, very few people were at the end of February/early March.

Image: Chris und Alisia Alpinger, Pixabay

Symptoms Summary

Officially recognised symptoms were initially fever and persistent cough. However, more recently, 19 symptoms were identified[1, 2].

I had a wide variety of symptoms, some fading and later re-emerging – some days I felt awful, followed by others when I thought I was recovering, only to relapse a day or so later. I wasn’t ever aware of having a fever and I didn’t realise until day 72 of symptoms that I’d partially lost my sense of smell – my Mum apologised for the overly ripe fruit stink, something that would usually bother me, but I hadn’t noticed it at all. I haven’t included the smell loss below, as I have no idea when it started.

My main symptoms spanned over 67 days. I went through a symptom-free phase between Day 29 and Day 35. At time of writing, it’s Day 112, and I’m still experiencing insomnia and fatigue, although lessening. It’s been an odd and interesting illness, COVID or not!

My Symptoms in Order of Appearance

Headache: Days 1 – 4, 6 – 8 & 10
(Image: mohamed Hassan, Pixabay)
Sore throat: Days 1 – 4, 6 – 8, 12 & 38 – 47
(Image: Ary setyobudi, Pixabay)
Cough (mostly dry): Days 2 – 21, 23 & 36 – 67
(Image: mohamed Hassan, Pixabay)
Breathlessness: Days 4 & 21
(Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay)
Insomnia: Started after waking in the middle of the night unable to breathe. Resultant fatigue & brain fog: Day 4 onwards
(Image by Stephanie Ghesquier from Pixabay)
Gut discomfort: Days 4 – 5, 7 & 9 – 11
(Image: Christian Dorn, Pixabay)
Light-headedness/dizziness: Days 5 & 7
(Image by Stephanie Ghesquier, Pixabay)
Chest tightness/heart pains: Day 7 & Day 21
(Image: mohamed Hassan, Pixabay)
Body aches (mainly back, ribs & kidneys): Days 10 – 27 & 36
(Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)
Impaired hearing: Day 21
(Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay)
Skin burning sensations (right hip, waist & right thigh): Days 27 – 28
(Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Pixabay)

I was mostly symptom-free (except insomnia, fatigue and brain fog) on Days 29- 35 and from Day 68 onwards.

Table of My Symptoms in Order of Appearance

Table: Summary of my symptoms & their duration, in order of appearance.

I hope you found this article informative and helpful. For graphical representation and more detailed extracts from my health diary, please click on: Supplementary Information.

Please consider joining the ZOE COVID Symptom Study (endorsed by the NHS) to help track the virus, including emerging hotspots. All you need to do is download the app and report daily on whether or not you feel well – it only takes a minute to complete:

– Apple Store: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/covid-symptom-study/id1503529611
– Google Play store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.joinzoe.covid_zoe&hl=en_US

I hope you found this article interesting and informative. Stay safe.

Image: Elsemargriet, Pixabay

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References

1. World Health Organization, 2020. Coronavirus: Symptoms [online]. Available from: www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_3.

2. COVID Symptom Study, 2020. 7 things you need to know about staying safe as lockdown measures begin to lift [online]. Available from: https://covid.joinzoe.com/post/tips-covid-safety.

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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