Health Diary Week 64: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

We Are Family

My Grandmother (Nana)

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

What’s New

Here’s what’s new in my life this past week…

Lockdown:

I should probably start with the big news here in the UK – we are back into a national lockdown (3.0) due to a concerning (though unsurprising) rapid rise in Covid-19 cases, related hospital admissions and deaths. This hasn’t majorly changed my behaviour, as we were already being really cautious and following the science, rather than governmental updates.

Long Lost Family:

My biggest news personally is discovering about 90 new family members – how amazing is that?! My Mum had chatted to family in Australia, who told her about our extended family group on Facebook, so I joined too.

Job Interview Update

Last week, I forgot to update that unfortunately I missed out on the NHS Occupational Health and Wellbeing Practitioner position. I was told I was a close second choice and there was nothing I could do to improve my interview. The successful candidate already had experience working in the NHS and a specific mental health qualification. Upon reflection, I should have talked more about my mental health training from when I was a University Disability Adviser and the relevant mental health modules in my Health Sciences degree. I’m still really pleased with myself though, as I usually find job interviews incredibly challenging, whereas I enjoyed this one.

Food and Nutrition

It was another diary-free (and lax on the low histamine diet) week, although I did take some photos of what food was on my plate…

Salad Meals:

As you know, I often enjoy a salad for lunch. On my current low histamine diet, I skip the tomato, avocado and vinegar containing dressings. My salad is still tasty though and includes mixed salad leaves (not spinach or rocket), beetroot, radishes, cucumber, celery, spring onion, chia and/or pumpkin seeds in a sweet paprika and rapeseed oil dressing, with steamed potatoes and a cornmeal-based (no eggs) vegetable frittata (ingredients here):

My Typical Salad Lunch: Low histamine style with cornmeal-base frittata

Pasta Meals:

I never get bored of pasta – currently I’m having brown rice or corn-based fusilli or spaghetti accompanied by vegetables. My ‘go-to’ veg are courgette (zucchini), sweetcorn, green cabbage, grated carrot and sweet white or spring onion. I’ll often have a simple pasta lunch when I’ve run out of fresh salad items and load it with sweetcorn, onion, chia, flax and/or hemp seeds, mixed herbs, turmeric and rapeseed oil. Dinner pasta calls for more veg and sometimes quinoa or polenta balls (ingredients here):

Pasta and Veg Meals: Left: Fusilli. Right: Spaghetti with quinoa balls

Rice Meals:

Rice and vegetables have become a staple since adopting a low histamine diet – it’s an easy ‘go-to’ dinner:

Rice and Veg Meals

My Food Highlights:

One of my meal highlights this week has to be the comforting cauliflower ‘cheese’ with roasted sweet potatoes, pan-fried courgette and steamed purple carrot. The sauce didn’t actually contain any cheese and was instead sweet potato based – delicious:

A very saucy cauliflower ‘cheese’ (sauce made with sweet potato), roasted sweet potatoes, pan-fried courgette and steamed purple carrot

My other favourite were vegetable puff pastries (I made these) and Mum’s homemade chips (fries), although admittedly an incredibly high fat combination. And I scoffed my way through two batches of veg puff pastries this week, so that’s a lot of saturated fat! – but they were ever so tasty!:

Left: Veg puff pastries and Mum’s homemade chips. Right: Some of the vegetable puff pastry ingredients – see, it’s not all beige, at least not on the inside

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Okay, so I gained 3.2 lb/1.5 kg. This sounds like a complete disaster right? – Fear not, it wasn’t. Initially, the gain was a bit of a shock, but then I remembered I was expecting to weigh around 162 lb anyway at this stage after holiday indulgences – it’s just last week I lost weight for some reason when I expected to gain, so the 3 lb jump this week seems a lot. The truth is, I haven’t been particularly careful about what I ate and only went out for a walk once, but I needed a break from behaving. I’m aiming to be back on track from next week:

Week 64 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

So, let’s move on to some of the experiences that made me smile over the past week…

Family:

Earlier I told you about discovering loads of extended family I never knew I had. I’ve particularly loved looking through the old photos, noticing some family resemblances and connecting with new people. It’s made me reminisce about my amazing Nana who was dedicated to caring for her local community as a District Nurse:

Old Family Photos: Top: My beautiful Nana (grandmother). Bottom: My Nana as a girl (front row, sitting) with her family, Near Bhusawal, India

Online Socials:

Happily, it’s been a rather social week, albeit all online. I chatted to Bevy and Harry a couple of times, Tina and Becky and family (Emma, Carl, my Aunt and Uncle). And a monthly catch up with Karen, Julie and Chrissy – Chrissy led a bitesize mindful movement and breathing session, which was fabulous and much needed. There are still several friends I need to catch up with, so hopefully I’ll be doing that soon too:

Calming gardens in Luang Prabang, Laos (Eco Adventure Tour, 2006)

Portrait Artist Mum:

I might have told you previously that last year Mum completed portraits of my sister and the boy she used to look after. So, this week, it was finally my turn – yay! Mum decided to try out her new watercolour pencils to replicate my latest profile picture . My friend’s daughter might have influenced the inclusion of the sea-life additions (Week 63). I absolutely love it:

Portrait Artist Mum: Portrait of me at various stages

Cute Kittens:

I was searching through some photos for my extended family group and stumbled across some of the adorable kittens I looked after when house sitting for friends a couple of years ago. There were four kittens and two cats – what was I thinking?! It was a challenging, but heart-warming few days. The kittens learnt to climb over the child barrier from the room they were supposed to be residing in, during the short time between my friends leaving their home and me arriving. So, they weren’t where I expected to find them and I frantically searched for the little guys. On another occasion, I found one kitten hiding in a bag hanging on the back of the door – how on earth did the little tyke get in there? And how could I not share this?:

Cute Kittens: Kitten and cat sitting for friends (Lancing, 2018)

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.

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Health Diary Week 40: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Some Personal Bests

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

Food and Nutrition

Breakfast:

So, I skipped breakfast once as I knew I was going out for a calorie-dense lunch – more on that shortly. I had mango twice and pineapple once – an improvement on last week’s no morning fruit. I ate Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise cereal once and had my easy go-to Nairn’s oat biscuits 4 times:

Week 40 Breakfasts

Lunch:

Predictably, I had My typical salad for lunch – 5 times this week. I cooked up some THIS Isn’t Bacon rashers that were at their end date, using some in a ‘bacon’ roll and keeping the remainder for a dinner ingredient:

My lunch (and social) highlight has to be the meal out at Offbeet New Forest, sat in the Sunnyfields Farm Pyramid Field, chatting with my friend Harry and briefly Bevy when she joined us online. Along with the creamy curried gnocchi, I shared some of my parents’ Indian loaded fries. It was all so very tasty:

I took the photo; the description image is from Offbeet’s website
Week 40 Lunches

Dinner:

This week’s dinners included a seriously loaded (and messy) Plant Pioneer burger with oven fries – we’re talking melted Applewood cheese, lettuce, tomato, gherkins, coleslaw, fried onion and tomato salsa. After my big lunch out, I had a toasted sandwich for dinner – Applewood cheese, Quorn ‘ham’ slices, homemade coleslaw and tomato:

Twice I had leftover Veg Risotto (Week 39) with a cheeky dollop of mayo mixed in – I just love risotto, especially with broad beans:

Then there was ratatouille, another favourite – it’s basically tomato, peppers, courgettes and aubergine. We had it with 2 Plant Pioneer jackfruit burgers and a Waitrose breaded jackfruit burger divided between the 3 of us. The next day was the magical meal transformation: we used leftover ratatouille as a sauce with spaghetti (Dove’s brown rice) and added white cabbage, THIS Isn’t Bacon rashers and olives – I was completely happy to have it the next day for dinner too:

Week 40 Dinners

Snacks:

I was more mindful of my snacking compared to last week, resulting in eating less and reduced saturated fat options:

Week 40 Snacks

Admittedly there were still some unhealthier choices – a couple of times over the weekend I had some Kettle Chips crisps. Decent savoury snacks included my go-to Peckish rice crackers and hummus a couple of times, once also with some baby peppers. Also, I had some mixed unsalted nuts and Karma Bites popped lotus seeds:

Sweet snacks included my usual 2-4 chocolate bar squares on 4 days – surprisingly not every day. But I did have the last Gu vanilla and chocolate cheesecake (at its end date) – massively indulgent, being high in total and saturated fat. I had fruit a few times though, including strawberries, raspberries and the mango surrounding the stones – being offered the stone is a treat in my household and brings back childhood memories with my Nana:

Alcohol

My alcohol intake (spiced rum with Diet cola) was acceptable, within the recommended 14 units maximum weekly allowance, although I would’ve liked to reduce it from 9 units down to 6 units over the 3 evenings I drank. No inconvenient hangovers at least:

Week 40 Alcohol
Image: Drinkaware

Exercise

I completed a 40 minutes Wii Fit session on aerobic and balance exercises. No exercising biking, but I’ll do it again when I’m stuck inside for our 14 days self-imposed quarantine. I set myself a challenge to go out walking every day this week – I’m proud to report I succeeded, totalling 432 minutes (just over 7 hours), of which 286 minutes (over 4.5 hours) was brisk. That’s nearly 8 hours total physical activity, compared to just under 3 hours last week – I’m very happy with that:

Week 40 Exercise
Active 10 walks

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Okay, so how did all my actions reflect in my weekly results? Well, I’m pleased to report I lost the weight gained last week, plus a little more: I lost 2.2 lb (1 kg) and 0.6% fat – phew:

My progress may seem slow and somewhat up-and-down, but its’ to be expected when working towards healthy sustainable weight loss through a nutritional, but also non-restrictive method. The dip in weight, between Week 21 and Week 23, was when I’d been feeling my worst with suspected COVID-19 (thankfully I’m okay now), so a weight gain after that is to be expected really. Hopefully I’m back on more of a downward trend again now:

Key: SI: self-isolation (due to symptoms). LD: Lockdown. PLD: Partial lockdown

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Right, I think it’s time to move on to those smile-provoking experiences…

I’m an Amateur:
I had a run of Wii Fit personal bests in super hula hoop, advanced rhythm boxing, step plus, balance bubble and most excitingly heading – I’d got progressively worse at heading, but this week I achieved my highest score and reached amateur status – yey!:

From 18 points (Week 38) to 67 points (Week 40)

The WordPress Community:
A lovely compliment from fellow WordPress blogger, Troy Headrick from Pointless Overthinking, about my fruit face avatar designed by my Mum, based on how she sees me in fruit form:

Clockwise: The inspiration by congerdesign (Pixabay). Mum’s first attempt. Me. My final profile picture

Coffee and Birds:
The simplistic daily morning ritual of bird watching and coffee on the driveway with my parents. I can’t share the bird feeding videos on here, but I’m posting some on my Instagram if you’re interested:

Mummy Bird feeding Baby Bird


The Dusk Sky:
Thank you Tina for pointing out the dusk sky during our online Houseparty meet-up. I hadn’t actually properly appreciated it until looking back at my photo:

Lunch Out:
Feeling safe enough to collect food from my favourite food place (Offbeet New Forest) and eat comfortably alfresco in the Sunnyfields Farm Pyramid Field. And of course the social side of meeting Harry and Bevy for a lunchtime catch up and having a quick chat with Offbeet Chef and friend (Bald Vegan Chef):

Images: Top: Offbeet; bottom: Pyramid Field at Sunnyfields Farm

Nature Walks:
Spotting beautiful, surprising or amusing nature whilst out walking:

My Neighbour:
Walks with my kind neighbour Elise who is helping me explore the local area to figure out where I want to live:

Elise during our stroll in a park

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. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy reading everyone else’s inspirational and informative posts.

>>>Week 41
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Health Diary Week 33: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Jenga!

Image: Amy Moore, Pixabay

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Hi again. How quickly the next week comes around!

What’s New

Overall, I’m pleased with this week’s progress, because I’ve struggled emotionally – I’m uncomfortable talking about my feelings, but here’s how I see it using the game ‘Jenga’ as an analogy: I was precariously balanced (I hadn’t realised), then a ‘block’ was removed (nothing major), resulting in me toppling (feeling anxious and alone). However, I’m completely aware I’m in a more fortunate position than many, so I’m ready to pick myself back-up and continue on…

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:

I had fruit (mango and pineapple) only once. I ate a pack of 4 Nairn’s Oaties biscuits 4 times with my morning coffee. I succumbed to a slice of toast with peanut butter and jam one day and skipped breakfast another.

The big share bowl of mango & pineapple – I didn’t eat it all!

Lunch:

Lunches consisted of my My Typical Salad 5 times, either with hash browns or rice-filled vine leaves. Other than that, I had a Heck vegfurter hotdog (high fibre; made from mushroom, carrot and beetroot) and my highlight, Mum’s cauliflower and almond soup.

Lunch highlights: Left: Homemade cauliflower & almond soup. Right: Heck vegfurter hotdog.

Dinner:

Dinner is generally my favourite meal of the day, as it tends to be more varied. Mine included leftover dhal and rice – I love how a low-cost meal can be so tasty and nutritious. Also, Meatless Farm Co. mince, mashed potato, baby carrots and green beans with gravy. I had an odd combo of leftover mince and baked beans with pasta – simply a lazy dinner. Another hotdog to finish the open pack. I enjoyed a baked potato – half with baked beans, the other with coconut-based cheese and coleslaw, because I couldn’t choose between the two fillings. My highlights were vegetable fajitas (peppers and mushrooms) and a Plant Pioneer burger with low-fat oven chips.

Dinner highlights: Top: Burger (with all the works) & low-fat chips. Bottom: Veg fajitas with guacamole & salsa.

Snacks:

So far, not too bad, other than lack of breakfast fruit. So, let’s assess my snacking… 4 days of morning snacks: grapes, satsumas and mixed nuts. On the day I missed breakfast, cheeky fries leftover from my parents’ dinner. My pre-dinner and evening snacks (5 days each) were small amounts of chocolate (e.g. ¼ of a bar). Saturday night (online pub) I indulged in crisps, including cheesy nachos.

Snack highlights: Left: Cheesy nachos – pre-melted to demonstrate I didn’t overdo the cheese! Right: Hazelnut chocolate desert pot (our weekly veg box ‘surprise’) – I ate it over 2 days.

Alcohol

Alcohol included a double rum and cola on Friday during an online family meet and Saturday’s pre-measured 6 vodkas with a bottle of soda water and fresh lime.

Exercise

My physical activity was a respectable 190 minutes, split between 3 gentle exercise biking sessions and a 70-minute stint on Wii Fit, including yoga, aerobics, muscle and balance exercises. I had a shock when the Wii Fit body analysis reported I’d gained 2 stone and 5 pounds since I’d last used it!

Wii Fit aerobic & balance exercises: It seems I have an inability to move in the right direction, resulting in missing targets, whilst managing to get hit in the head by every flying object – impressive!

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I ‘m pleased to report my 1 lb weight loss this week – yey! I’d expected a gain, because I thought I’d eaten poorly and not moved enough.

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I’m so pleased I introduced this section, especially given the challenges this week brought. I’ve enjoyed looking back on and appreciating the positive experiences

Bird Watching:
At the beginning of the week, when it was still sunny, I enjoyed watching the birds at the feeder:

University Friends:
Chatting with my friends Magda and Emelie online on Zoom – last time was early March in person. We met on our MSc Nutrition and Behaviour degree. They both have incredible work ethics – I wish I’d been a bit more like them back when I was in my 20’s!:

Photo from MSc graduation back in 2019 – seems so long ago now!

Studying:
Completing Week 2 of the Future Learn COVID-19 course by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Also, it’s been interesting reading other’s thoughts and I’ve enjoyed sharing my own too. Such a well-run course, I’d highly recommend it:

COVID-19 Week 2 course agenda: The practical implications.

Long Baths with Weleda:
My emotional comfort-blanket: Long (very long!) soaks in the bath with my favourite bath milk, Weleda arnica muscle soak:

New Turtle T-Shirt:
Trying on my new Rapanui WWF t-shirt that helps safeguard turtles – love it! – thanks Mum. Why Rapanui?: “Certified Organic Cotton…Not tested on animals. Does not contain animal-derived products. Printed in the UK with low waste printing tech. Made in a renewable energy powered factory audited for a wide range of social and sustainability criteria”.

Catching Up with Family:
Chatting to Emma (my sister) and Carl (her boyfriend) online – it’s been a while since we’d last spoken:

Emma showing us her worse-for-wear ‘lemon pig’.

Improved Confidence:
Realising how much my confidence and critical-thinking skills have grown over the past 5 years, thanks to the Open University Health Sciences degree. I was pleasantly surprised to receive 57 ‘Likes’ on one of my Future Learn comments. I realise this may not sound like much to some, but it’s the most ‘Likes’ I’ve ever had:

My response to the Educator’s question asking about challenges where resources are limited.

More Online Socialising:
Houseparty with the guys even though they made me do a quiz – I’m asking the questions next week!:

I returned from getting a drink to find myself alone in the House! It was okay – they came back.

Looking back, there were plenty of occasions for me to smile – it’s helpful to document these things.

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.

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