Health Diary Week 42: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Two-Faced Joy

Angkor Wat, Cambodia (2006)

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Hi and welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates and some positive smile-provoking experiences…

What’s New

You may have noticed my blog format has changed slightly. Any feedback gratefully received – I want to make this blog as user-friendly as possible.

My 14 days quarantine is flying by, although I have to say, I’m looking forward to getting back out on my walks and hopefully seeing a few friends in person (still physically distanced).

I had my first job interview (online) in many years. Despite extensive preparation, my nerves led to initially stumbling over my words. The rest seemed to go well though and it was good practise whatever the outcome. I’d had a break after finishing 5 years studying to focus on my long-term health – leading to this blog creation – more in About and Week 0. Now much refreshed and motivated, I’m ready to re-enter employment, hopefully within the NHS. I’ll keep you posted.

Ummm, so this was the most relevant image that appeared when I searched for ‘NHS’ and ‘National Health Service’ on Pixabay. (Image: Andrew Martin, Pixabay)

Food and Nutrition

Okay, 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:

Hmmm, I only managed fruit (mango) once – this needs to increase. I made a wise decision to freeze the rest of my blueberry muffins – just one crept in for breakfast. I reduced the biscuit intake, although this can be improved on. I had cereal twice (I didn’t need the added sugar the first time) and a slice of wholegrain seeded toast with peanut butter and raspberry jam:

Week 42 Breakfasts

Lunch:

I had My Typical Salad every day this week, mostly with hash browns, once with rice filled vine leaves. Last week I noted I’d let oily dressings creep in, so I stuck to balsamic vinegar (zero fat, admittedly high in free sugars, but just a drizzle) and sometimes a smidgeon of salad cream (instead of mayo) with my potatoes. And no coleslaw this week, again reducing fat content. Mum made a ‘Sunshine Salad’ (recipe from an Abel and Cole veg box delivery some years back) – watercress, raw grated beetroot, orange (we supplemented with satsuma) and balsamic vinegar – absolutely delicious. We were fortunate to have Padron peppers a couple of times too:

Week 42 Lunches
Clockwise: Salad lunch. Sunshine salad. Cucumbers from my friend. Tomatoes from Abel & Cole veg box

Dinner:

Definitely less total and saturated fat compared to last week without feeling like I’d missed out too much. I love a plate of nibbles, so I thoroughly enjoyed my spring rolls, veg sticks (cucumber, celery, purple carrots), homemade smoked paprika hummus, olives, gherkins, pickled onions and a cheese slice. Then there was one of my favourites: veg-loaded risotto, which stretched into the next day by adding sausages, green beans and tomatoes. I made scrambled tofu (using a combo of smoked firm and silken tofu), once topped with mushrooms and tomatoes. I finished the week with bean chilli, tomato salsa and brown rice, once with guacamole and garlic bread (fat content reduced using a plain baguette and my own garlic butter):

Week 42 Dinners

Snacks:

I reduced my amount of snacking and made healthier choices (less saturated fat) compared to last week. I’m not too concerned about eating some naturally occurring unsaturated fats (e.g. avocado), but I’m trying to minimise added fat (e.g. oils) and saturates (e.g. chips).

On the sweet-side, I only ate chocolate twice – no chocolate bar squares. Instead, I had raw chocolate goji berries and dark chocolate rice crackers – I’m really pleased with myself. Other sweet choices were pineapple (twice), sweet and salty popcorn and when I really craved a jam doughnut (I haven’t had one in like seven years, so that was weird), I compensated with a slice of toast with peanut butter and jam – the fat and sugar combo did the trick.

Savoury snacks were unsalted mixed nuts, rice crackers with hummus, Quorn slices, pasta salad (with leftover beetroot) and a few handfuls of crisps/potato chips. Now, the pasta was mayo-based (rapeseed oil), so it contained the added unsaturated fat I was trying to minimise. And, the crisps were loaded in saturated fat, so I want to reduce these occurrences in the future. Overall decent choices though: 

Week 42 Snacks

Alcohol

I drank about five units of alcohol over three days: three spiced rums (one was a double) and a small glass of wine:

Week 42 Alcohol
This was how much wine I drank – just a tipple

Exercise

I was quite shocked to realise I’d only completed 179 minutes (just under three hours) physical activity – last week I thought the 246 minutes (four hours) was low. This has been a hot and muggy week and I couldn’t get out-and-about for a stroll due to quarantine; regardless, I know I could have done better than this:

Week 42 exercise

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Well, as you can imagine, I was mighty relieved to have lost 2.0 lb (0.9 kg) of the 3.0 lb (1.4 kg) weight gained last week. My fat percentage also dropped by 0.8% since last week, so I was pleased about that too:

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I love writing this section. Looking back on these little moments of happiness brings back the positive memories and makes me smile all over again.

Two-Faced Joy:
Last week I explained how the mango stone dolls came about. In the top photo you’ll see my Mum’s original creation. As suspected, she decided to take it further and upon remembering she had googly eyes packed away, dug these out and added them to Mango Man (bottom pic). He’s grown a moustache too. Mum then created a lady on the other side of the stone – doesn’t she look lovely:

Passive Aggressive Wii:
Usually passive aggressiveness does not make me smile, but I was amused by Wii Fit’s attempt. It started with only showing Mum as being active – the rest of us were asleep (I’m on the right). Then there was the greeting when I signed in – my absence has been duly noted – thank you Wii Fit:

Woodpecker Distraction:
The woodpeckers have been noisy, but elusive – they don’t visit the bird feeder when we’re close by. So, imagine my delight when I spotted and captured on video what appears to be a juvenile woodpecker. At the time I was doing Wii Fit, so I paused to observe – thank goodness Wii didn’t have anything to say about my break:

Screen shot from my two-minute video

Mummy Bird’s Berry Feast:
It seems Baby Bird has matured and ventured off on his own now. But we still have the joy of visits from Mummy Bird, albeit less frequently. It was lovely to watch her feasting on blackberries:

A Sunset Excursion to the Water:
My week’s highlight was our excursion to the water’s edge. It was so nice to go out even though we couldn’t leave the car due to our self-imposed quarantine. The breeze as we drove to our destination was a treat – we’re having a heatwave in the UK. I was delighted to catch the sunset over the water – I love a sunset (or sunrise):

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

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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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