Health Diary Week 14: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Honesty can be Hard!

Image: Terta Filius Saggio, Pixabay

<<<Week 13
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Hi and welcome to another weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates…

What’s New

…This is the first week where I’ve had to fight the urge to be misleading about my results – I hate admitting that, but I felt that I should own up. Just to clarify, I didn’t end up lying!

“The best measure of a person’s honesty isn’t their income tax return. It’s the zero adjust on their bathroom scale”. Arthur C. Clarke (adapted by me to be gender neutral).

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

My scales did that thing where they look like they’re going to settle on a lower number (169.8 lb – this was what I was tempted to report) and at the last second it switched to 170.2 lb – gutted, no change – my scales are such a tease! But, at least my fat % reduced slightly:

Week 14 results (not much change)

Alcohol

Now, the expectation was I’d lose weight and/or fat, because I’m doing ‘Dry January[1]: No alcohol = fewer calories = weight-loss. Right? – No! So, what’s going on? Detective time – to help my analysis, I tabulated my consumption and physical activity…

Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

Food and Nutrition

So, what went wrong? 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…

Total and Saturated Fat:

…I’d suspected my issue was chocolate (again) – the stash really is nearly finished! But, my analysis also revealed how much coconut-based cheese I’d eaten. I’d found a chunk left over from Christmas and finished it off in a couple of lunchtime sandwiches. Plus, I had cauliflower and broccoli cheese twice and returned for seconds! Also, more saturated fat – Friday night involved a huge portion of chip shop chips. And, there was a bag of crisps open in the kitchen – I mindlessly grabbed a handful of them several times throughout the week:

Monday & Tuesday dinner: Cauliflower & broccoli cheese with Linda McCartney sausage, oven-cooked potatoes, stuffing, carrots & gravy – it was very tasty!

Unplanned Indulgency:

Tuesday there was unplanned indulgency. After circuits we decided to stop off at Offbeet for coffee – but we succumbed to its breakfast menu. Truth is my hunger would have been satisfied with one of the Shakshuka waffles, but there were two on my plate and they were delicious, so I happily ate them both:

Offbeet Shakshuka waffles – doesn’t that just look amazing?

Mindless Snacking:

Also, on Friday evening I was with friends at our ‘Girls’ night in’ watching 80’s movies – although we mostly picked healthier snacks, I mindlessly worked my way through them. I knew I was eating too much, but I’m embarrassed to admit, I didn’t care at the time:

‘Girls’ night in’ – 80’s movie night snacks: Popcorn, hummus, mixed melon, carrot, cucumber & red pepper sticks, Itsu crispy seaweed thins, vegetable crisps, olives, Leon pea-lentiful dip (yum!) & mango

Meals:

I made hotdogs twice – I hadn’t had a hotdog for about seven years! These hotdogs were high fibre[3], with almost half the recommendation for adults (30g/day[4]) – 6.3g per Heck vegfurter and 8.1g per BFree seeded baguette – definitely having that again! The only concern was the sausage’s high salt content (red traffic-lighted[2]). I enjoyed the Gro porcini ravioli – but ate the whole pack – it was supposed to serve two people – oops! Another tasty ‘go-to’ meal was Mexican rice topped with avocado, tomato and red onion. Both the ravioli and Mexican rice were green or amber traffic lighted:

My easy meals: Top: Hotdog. Bottom left & middle: Spicy Mexican rice with avocado, tomato & red onion. Bottom right: Porcini ravioli.

I had my My Typical Salad a couple of times for lunch – once with the tasty Strong Roots courgette and spinach hash browns. The best dinner (which I had twice) was my Mum’s curry (adapted from my Nana’s recipe): aubergine, pea and potato curry, lentil dhal, rice, poppadum and chutney/pickles – a comforting and nutritional meal, including quality plant-protein and fibre. I know I’m obsessed with fibre! – but it’s so important to our long-term health[4, 5]:

Left: Mum’s curry, rice & lentil dhal. Right: my typical salad with hash browns & sauerkraut

Exercise

I completed around 6½ hours physical activity, which probably helped prevent a weight gain. The breakdown: 2 hours circuit training, 2 hours 40 minutes exercise biking, nearly 2 hours brisk walking – I’d intended to do more walking, but the rain put me off:

Left: My fully co-ordinated circuits outfit (not happy about that belly though!). Right: My Active 10 walks

Advice to Self:

So, advice to ‘self’ for the week ahead:

More appropriate portion sizes – that includes not going back for seconds!

Reduce saturated fat – stay clear of coconut-based cheese this week.

Eat more mindfully – fully focus on what I’m eating – no researching whilst eating!

Less chocolate (eek!).

Tuesday’s morning frost – I thought it was kind of pretty & I’m trying to appreciate Winter beauty, despite it being my least liked season

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 15>>>
<<<Week 13
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References

1. Alcohol Change UK, Ca. 2019. Dry January [online]. Available from: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january.
2. British Nutrition Foundation, 2018. Helping you eat well: Looking at labels. Available from: www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/helpingyoueatwell/324-labels.html?start=3.
3. European Commission, Ca. 2019. Nutrition claims [online]. Available from: https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/claims/nutrition_claims_en.
4. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, 2015. SACN Press release: Expert nutritionists recommend halving sugar in diet [online]. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/446188/SACN_Carbohydrates_Press_Release_July_2015.PDF.

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Health Diary Week 5: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

All Moving in the Right Direction (Finally!)

Image: Annca from Pixabay

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<<<Week 4

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

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

… I’m going to jump straight in here – I’m feeling totally thrilled that all my results moved in the right direction this week. My weight reduced by 2 lb and fat by 0.7%. What I need to do now is figure out what I did right, so that I can keep doing it!:

My week 5 results compared to the start & last week (all good – finally!)

…So, I drew up a summary table to clearly see what I’d consumed and physical activity for the week (yep, getting a bit nerdy again!).

Week 5: Food intake & physical activity

Alcohol

The difference between this week and the previous ones that immediately came to mind, was a much lower alcohol intake – I only had one rum (a double) with Saturday’s dinner, compared to many vodkas or wines in previous weeks. Since alcohol is so calorie-dense, seven calories per gram (fat has nine per gram)[1, 2], I clearly need to track my alcohol intake more closely in future!:

Image: Daniel Reche from Pixabay

Exercise

The other factor that probably attributed to my weight/fat loss was the amount of physical activity I undertook. I walked (not fast, just casually) for about five hours and spent four hours on planned exercise (circuits and exercise bike) – that’s nine hours total! Unfortunately, I injured my wrist (I can’t pinpoint exactly when – it’s a hypermobility[3] thing), so I’m currently limited on some exercises – no boxing-pad work (my favourite) or anything else placing pressure on my wrist. Despite that, I was able to incorporate alternatives that still gave me a decent work-out, so I’m hoping this won’t affect me massively or for too long:

Image: Video stills from Fitness 4 U Fareham
Me on the boxing pads station at circuits in 2016

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…

I ate a good amount of freshly prepared food, which I find can help to keep calories down, because you know how much fat or sugar you’re adding.

Breakfast:

For breakfast, I had fruit salad three times – a good start to building towards my 5-a-day fruit and veg[4]:

Fruit salad ingredients: strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, mango & kiwi fruit

Lunch:

Lunch generally involved some form of salad (including My Typical Salad) – the tastiest lunch was a recently discovered Shawarma (Soya-based) Kebab. The great thing about this meal was that it was a decent source of fibre, incorporating wholegrains and salad. Why is this important? – Because fibre is crucial to health – in the UK, only 4% of women and 13% of men in my age range (19-64) reached the recommended 30 grams fibre[5, 6], so we literally need to add it in at any opportunity!

Shawarma kebab: You can’t really see the Shawarma soya protein, as there’s so much salad crammed in, but it all tasted amazing and was filling.

I love Vegetable Risotto, so I was happy enough to eat it three times for dinner, having made a batch load. However, my dinner highlight was fajitas, another fibrous meal if you use wholegrain tortillas and vegetables (I had mixed bell peppers, mushrooms and onion, as that’s what was in the fridge):

Pre-wrapped fajita: Mixed veg, tomato salsa, guacamole & iceberg lettuce in wholegrain tortilla – I had 2 of these!

Snacks:

The great news for me was that I had chocolate snacks without any dire consequences. I used ‘swaps’ to lower sugar/saturated fat content – raw chocolate-coated goji berries, instead of chocolate bars and raw cacao hot almond milk drink instead of hot chocolate – hot chocolate can contain ten teaspoons of sugar[7], sometimes a lot more! My favourite savoury snacks are hummus and wholegrain pitta or rice crackers, decent sources of plant protein and fibre:

Image: Samir Biscevic from Pixabay

A Positive Week

It’s been a great week results-wise and I’m hoping I’ll keep moving in the right direction – but I’m going to keep experimenting to figure out what I can get away with, so keep watching this space…

Week 6>>>
<<<Week 4
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References

1. Alcohol Change UK, Ca. 2019. Alcohol and calories [online]. Available from: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/alcohol-facts/fact-sheets/alcohol-and-calories.
2. NHS, 2016. Calories in alcohol [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/calories-in-alcohol/.
3. Hypermobility Syndromes Association, 2017. What are hypermobility syndromes? [online]. Available from: www.hypermobility.org/what-are-hypermobility-syndromes.
4. National Health Service (NHS), 2018. Eat Well: Why 5 A Day? [online]. Available from: www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/why-5-a-day/.
5. Public Health England and Food Standards Agency, 2018. National Diet and Nutrition Survey Results from Years 7 and 8 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2014/2015 to 2015/2016) [online]. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/699241/NDNS_results_years_7_and_8.pdf.
6. British Nutrition Foundation, 2018. Summary of Key Findings from the NDNS Report of Years 7 and 8 (combined) [online]. Available from: www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritioninthenews/new-reports/ndnsyears7and8.html.
7. Diabetes UK, C. 2019. How to cut down on sugar [online]. Available from: www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/carbohydrates-and-diabetes/how-to-cut-down-on-sugar.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate:

Health Diary Week 1: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

It’s an Encouraging Start (Phew!)

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Week 0

Image by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

The Plan

…Before I divulge the results…

…I decided to weigh-in on Monday mornings, straight after potential weekend shenanigans. For me, weekends are for relaxing and socialising, which can include a few alcoholic drinks, well, if I’m being honest (and I’m trying to be) sometimes a lot! Ultimately, this scenario leads to late night food cravings, coupled with a massively reduced willpower to ignore them. I don’t want to completely give up these weekends, so I’m going to experiment and see how much I can get away with:

Image: Pexels, Pixabay

Food and Nutrition

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

Alcohol and Snacks:

I had a fun, though excessive weekend. I met friends for drinks both Friday and Saturday night. I stuck to soda water and a slice of lime to flavour my vodkas to keep the calories down where possible. Friday night, I took vegetable sticks and salsa with me to a friend’s house to reduce my crisp/chip intake (it was a successful plan). However, Saturday night I drank too many vodkas (I don’t know how many) and in the early hours of the morning I ate a bowl of pasta left-over from dinner. My Sunday ended up being a ‘duvet’ and ‘comfort-food’ day. I was tired and felt like I was fighting off the cold that the rest of our household already had:

Image: StockSnap from Pixabay

Fibre:

Earlier in the week, I hadn’t drunk any alcohol and I ate more healthily. I tried to keep my fibre content high, as it’s so important for maintaining health[1,2] (My Carbs Article), including reducing risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancers. [Important! – don’t suddenly up your fibre intake if your body isn’t used to it, as it can cause painful bloating and wind! – build-up fibre gradually]:

Friday night’s lazy, but fibrous dinner: Chana Masala (chickpeas in tomato-based spicy sauce) and pre-cooked brown rice.

Meals:

Over the four days I’m reporting this week, I had fruit for breakfast, salad lunches (one day was an oven-baked, not fried, cooked brunch). My dinners were legume-based (chickpeas or lentils) with a grain-base (rice or tortilla wrap), which have the added benefit of providing quality protein[3, 4], as well as being high-fibre and nutritious:

My Typical Salad lunch: mixed salad leaves, red onion, cucumber, tomato, avocado, beetroot & mixed seeds with balsamic vinegar, steamed potatoes & falafel. Here, I added artichoke hearts & sauerkraut with a dollop of mayo (Vegenaise).

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Okay, so, here’s what you’ve been waiting for – my results. The first week was only four days since the start, because of how I timed things. I lost 1.6 lb (0.7 kg) and 0.8% body fat – yay and phew!:

My week 1 results compared to my starting point

A Positive First Week

So, the first week was a success – I’m so relieved! The results seem quite small but, I remind myself that it took five years to get to this obese state. Ultimately, it’s going to take time to return back to where I was, especially in a way that I can sustain any behavioural changes without feeling like I’m missing out.

Okay, I’m feeling motivated – bring on next week!…

Image: Gerd Altmann 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 2>>>
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References

1. Edwards, C. A., Havlik, J., Cong, W., Mullen, Preston, T., Morrison, D. J. and Combet, E., 2017. Polyphenols and health: Interactions between fibre, plant polyphenols and the gut microbiota. British Nutrition Foundation: Nutrition Bulletin [online], 41 (3), 214-231. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1111/nbu.12296.
2. Lockyer, S, Spiro, A. and Stanner, S., 2016. Dietary fibre and the prevention of chronic disease – should health professionals be doing more to raise awareness? British Nutrition Foundation: Nutrition Bulletin [online], 42 (4), 356-360. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nbu.12212.
3. Kahleova, H., Fleeman, R., Hlozkova, A., Holubkov, R. and Barnard, N. D., 2018. A plant-based diet in overweight individuals in a 16-week randomized clinical trial: metabolic benefits of plant protein. Nutrition and Diabetes [online], 8 (58). Available from:  www.nature.com/articles/s41387-018-0067-4.pdf
4. Song, M., Fung, T. T., Hu, F. B., Willett, W. C., Longo, V. D., Chan, A. T. and Giovannucci, E. L., 2016. Association of animal and plant protein intake with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine [online], 176 (10), 1453-1463. Available from: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2540540.

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