Far too long…

It has been far too long since I last posted here to my Blog. No excuses really!

Life goes on…. my weight loss journey continues.  My exercise regime is unchanged.

Interestingly, I managed to lose about a stone during 2020, but then managed to gain about 10lb during 2021!  A few sneaky extra treats sneaked in here and there can completely sabotage ones weekly weight loss progress.

Whilst many people struggled with the tedium of lockdowns, I seized the opportunity to exercise every day (for up to two hours) which gave me plenty of wiggle room and a few additional calories to enjoy.

Thankfully, my health has remained excellent and (hoping not to tempt fate here) I have avoided contracting Covid – although many of those around me have not been as fortunate.

Not having holidays and social events also helped – however careful and mindful I am, a few days away from home can wreak havoc with my weight.

Slowly life is returning to “normal” and my diary is beginning to look a little more exciting.

I’m determined to post a little more frequently and share some of the meals that I cook which help to keep me on track.

Sirloin steak stir fry. No need for noodles or rice!
Pan fried sea bass fillet with sun dried tomato and basil quinoa & rice, roasted fennel, tender stem brocolli and a little buffalo Mozzarella cheese.
My quick and easy aubergine Parmigiana with stir fried cabbage and leek, Mexican rice and soured cream  https://flidfit.com/2019/08/09/speedy-aubergine-parmigiana-412-calories/
Eating in the garden, turkey meatballs with a pomodoro, & chianti pasta sauce, griddled courgette, wholewheat spaghetti and grated cheese.
Mushroom Stroganoff with brown rice, roasted butternut squash, green beans and fresh coriander.

 

Living in the moment….

Living in the moment – a critical part of emotional well being.  Especially important at the present time as we slowly inch out of the Covid-19 pandemic to spend time each day and each week to find those little things that bring happiness and comfort.

Yesterday was a day for enjoying the sunshine.  It started with my second AstraZeneca vaccine injection.  Thankfully, apart from a small amount of localised pain in the injection site, it was absolutely fine.  I had the vaccine at my doctors surgery which is about 8 doors away from my home.  Grateful that I could travel there in my wheelchair, as parking always looks a bit of a nightmare!

A day laying in the sunshine with my Kindle and reading “Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A Story” by Richard Bach. The book tells the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a seagull who is bored with daily squabbles over food. Seized by a passion for flight, he pushes himself and learns everything he can about flying. His increasing unwillingness to conform finally results in his expulsion from the flock. Now an outcast, he continues to learn, becoming increasingly pleased with his abilities while leading a peaceful and happy life.

Just the sort of story to remind you to do the things that are important to you and bring happiness.

Stopping and remaining still to read a book is something I rarely do – in fact, it’s usually only an activity I enjoy when I am on holiday.  But if reading a book means I sit still for more than 30 minutes (and NOT in front of a computer screen…) then that can only be a good thing.

My day continued with a quick and easy meal – chicken cooked in a leek, mushroom and creamy mustard sauce (with an added dash of sherry).  A ready-cooked pouch of rice, quickly warmed and a side of steamed tender stem broccoli.  Rosé wine a fine accompaniment!

As the sun began to set, my day ended enjoying the warmth, smell and sight of the fire pit…

Chicken in a creamy mustard sauce – 312 calories

These quantities provide two very generous portion sizes. 

Preparation/cooking time, about 20 – 30 minutes.

100ml Creme Fraiche, Half Fat

1 Tsp/5g Mustard, Dijon

1 Tsp/5g Mustard, Wholegrain

6ml Oil, Olive

2 Cloves/6g Garlic, Raw

1 Shot/50ml Sherry, Dry

1 Tsp /2g Tarragon, Dried (or half a tablespoon of fresh tarragon, roughly chopped)

100g Mushrooms, Chestnut

230g Chicken, Cooked, Sliced

150g Leeks

Preparation:  Peel and finely dice the garlic. Finely slice the leek into strips and wash thoroughly removing all dirt and grit. Wipe the mushrooms and cut into quarters.

Method:  Heat the oil in an ovenproof pan. Fry the leeks over a medium heat until softened and cooked – do not allow to brown. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook for 2 minutes.

Add the chicken, continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add the sherry and stir until alcohol has evaporated.

Add the creme fraiche, tarragon and mustards to the pan, stirring to combine everything. Bring to a simmer until the chicken is heated through and sauce bubbling.

Great with green beans, broccoli, any other vegetables and rice.

 

Nutrition Data Per Serving

Calories (kcal)    312.0

Protein (g)  32.1

Carbohydrate (g)  9.5

Fat (g)  13.5

Fibre (g)  4.2

Fruit & Veg  1.7

Alcohol  3.5

Gardening, activity levels and mental health

I enjoy gardening – love my garden and it’s a place I like to be.  Away from the ‘phone and the computer screen.  Growing vegetables is great fun – watching seeds turn into tiny seedlings, larger plants and then eventually fruiting.  Of course, nothing beats the taste of home grown produce – picked just before cooking or eating.  The flavour of sun ripened home-grown tomatoes just can’t be beaten!

As well as providing a dose of fresh air (and it’s been pretty “fresh” recently!), even potting up seedlings can provide some great exercise and burns those calories.

As we move towards Summer, we get an essential dos of Vitamin D from the daylight.  Being outside, listening to the birds cheerfully chirping and the squirrels chattering lifts my mood.

Because of my limited mobility and restricted reach, I do need some practical assistance with certain aspects of gardening.

Early this morning, I was supported to set up a “work station” with everything I required to pot up several hundred tiny seedlings – cucumbers, sweetcorn, cosmos, sun flowers.  These seedlings have come for a short fostering visit from my Mum’s garden – to develop to their next stage of life, to be re-potted and then returned home where they will continue to be nurtured and then…. enjoyed.

A wallpaper pasting table in the sunshine, a couple of bags of compost strategically placed, a stack of pots, some hand tools and my shower stool, plus a small watering can that I could refill from the nearby water butt.  A large shallow tray at a convenient height where I could organise the newly planted seedling pots.

And I was ready to go.

I didn’t plan on the fact I’d work through a snow shower or two, but once out there, I soldiered on until over half the seedlings were repotted.  Then back inside to defrost and enjoy a nice cup of tea….

Back to it tomorrow!

Happy gardening everyone!

Staying positive during lockdown

This is a worrying time.  A frightening and anxiety inducing time for even those who have a positive attitude to life and all that it throws at them.

From various interactions on social media and with the voluntary work I am involved with I am aware that for many, the situation is really frightening, and they’ve been struggling with sleep, eating sensibly and managing their days whilst isolated from family, friends and regular social interactions.

I’m certain that you may have observed an increase in people running, walking, jogging and cycling.  Weekly routines for many individuals include regular gym visits or exercise classes and this group appear to be really struggling with the physical isolation aspect of life “in lockdown”.

We are unable to influence anything in the larger scheme of things.  All we can do is work within the constraints of what is in our direct control.

Some of these things such as not leaving the house unless absolutely necessary and, when we do, practising physical distancing are being imposed on us.  It’s imperative that we listen to the advice that we are being given and adhere to it.

But how can we ensure that we maintain or even improve our own physical and mental wellbeing at this time?  We have to take responsibility for keeping ourselves as mentally and physically fit as we are able to.

For me, there aren’t too many changes.  I am still exercising first thing in the morning, on a daily basis for around an hour and on my own – the same place and generally around the same time of day (7am/8am).

I have a daily exercise regime which involves back, neck and shoulder stretches to maintain my flexibility and ability to remain independent.  That’s particularly important to me as a disabled person.  I need to be able to maintain (and perhaps even improve) my ability to carry out everyday activities of personal care – showering, dressing managing to use the toilet, mobility.

Exercises to increase my heart rate, maintain muscle mass and strengthen my core are an essential part of my daily routine, just as much as dental care is.

60543426051__9086B866-2FC5-429E-960C-ED7AF521DCF2
The view from my window as I exercise
Screenshot 2020-03-30 at 15.09.17
Concentration as I stretch

My exercise routine is seated on a gym ball, in an upstairs room looking out to the street – we have views across a large open lawned area – a University hall of residence.  I put music on, music that I love listening to.  I fully immerse myself in what I am doing for an hour.  Counting my reps, making sure that my stretches are done fully.  30-40 minutes of vigorous bouncing and “marching’ swinging my arms to get my heart rate up to peak.

That exercise is now particularly important and the urge to just “get it over and done with” in order to get on with my day has gone.  I have more time in my day to get on with those other things.

IMG_3683
The gym ball went to Tenerife with me!

I also have the time to concentrate on ensuring that my meals are as healthy and as nutritious as possible – including beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, fresh salads and vegetables.  This is also something I am very used to doing.  We don’t eat takeaways and we eat out only rarely – so we aren’t seeing the changes to our everyday life as being too restrictive.

We are also able to spend more time in our garden.  I appreciate that not everyone is lucky enough to have outdoor space and there isn’t a day that goes past at the moment when I am not grateful for the space that we have and the fact that we both love gardening so much.  Watching the progress on the growth of various seeds we have planted (courgette, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, flowers, salad leaves, beetroot).

 

Stay safe everyone, stay well and take care of yourself.  It’s really crucial that you do that at the moment.

IMG_1466
Our garden sanctuary (taken in the Summer last year)

Covid-19 – motivation and maintaining emotional wellbeing

derrick-evans-108cfe8a-6df7-4994-9716-eabac511f1a-resize-750
Derrick Evans –  aka “Mr Motivator”

Unsurprisingly, the news recently has been dominated by the news of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Understandable alarm – and even panic (when it comes to toilet paper buying) has been well documented via social media platforms.

It was refreshing this morning to listen to a programme on BBC Radio 4 which was rather more reassuring about what we can do to keep ourselves as well as we can in the period leading up to preparing for the effects of the virus to hit its peak.  I thought I would share here.

These aren’t the “usual” things that we might have been hearing or seeing.  Spreading  panic isn’t helpful or constructive and often has a profound negative effect on our emotional health.

The programme looked at how we should all ensure that we look after our own health – even before we consider offering support to others.  This isn’t just be about our physical health either.  Emotional wellbeing is vital at this time and that will become even more important if we are forced into self-isolation or when those around us are affected.

I have read and heard concern from those thinking ahead to self-isolation.  How good are we at being kept apart from others?  Our friends, family members, social activities and events, holidays and trips, days out…..  these are all critical in maintaining our wellbeing.

One of those who appeared on the programme was Derrick Evans, aka Mr Motivator.  Derrick is a Jamaican born British fitness instructor who rose to fame in 1993 through appearances on the UK breakfast show GMTV where he performed live fitness sessions and offered tips and advice to viewers.

I remember vividly Derrick’s lurid tight-fitting spandex outfits.  I also recall his infectious enthusiasm and big smile and listening to him on the programme this morning, at the age of 67, he appears not to have changed.

He advised listeners of the importance of maintaining physical wellbeing as we age and outlined some simple things that we should be doing on a daily basis in order to keep as mobile and fit as possible as we grow older.  His advice today was that we can use time when we are forced into our homes to concentrate on our physical activity.  He exercises daily for an hour and does a press up for every year of his age.  He described the value of music whilst we do exercise.

You can listen to Derrick on the programme here :  www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000gcvg at 2:52:56 into the Today programme.

If you want to do one thing today to make it a better day, listen to Derrick’s advice!

The programme was really interesting from 1:51:42 when it came to other information about the Virus and its effects.

Modifying behaviour around food and its consumption

Screenshot 2020-01-09 at 16.54.08I realised quite a few years into my journey to think about lifestyle changes rather than “being on a diet”.

That lifestyle change will need to happen a bit at a time and will involve many things : changing your behaviour around food, portion control, identifying emotional eating triggers, increasing your activity levels, trying new foods, making healthy food swaps, etc.

Commitment to diet/lifestyle change and resistance to temptation doesn’t just happen! It has to be worked at.

The only way I have succeeded this time is to change how I approach food and eating it. I have learned to resist temptation! BUT please believe that this has taken a LOT of hard work and practice.

It’s about “normalising” or “modifying” behaviour around food… and I think that with enough “practice” it becomes more and more easy until you get to the point where a behaviour is modified to the point of it becoming the only way.

I am sure that even some people who are not over weight do sometimes over indulge – but the fact is they don’t do it very often…

Those of us who are over weight have been used to “treating” ourselves, eating portions that are too large, eating the things that we know are calorific because we can.

It’s been a combination of changing all of those aspects of how I behave around food that has meant I have been successful this time.Screenshot 2020-01-09 at 16.54.37

I have developed a respect for the food I eat. Not everyone has the ability to eat as well as we in the western world eat. We should not abuse the privilege.

I rarely eat “on the hoof” any more, I rarely eat between meals. I take time to sit at a table and present my meals nicely. I take a moment or two to really look at my plate of food before I pick up my knife and fork.

Almost daily I say to myself “Aren’t we lucky to be able to enjoy such lovely food”. I really mean that too, I am not saying it for anyones benefit, but acknowledging how priviledgedwe are in a country where food and food choices are a plenty. We should never take for granted having easy access to delicious food stuffs and our ability and love of cooking.

Logging food – keeping track of how many calories some favourite “treats” contain means that after a while they stay in your head (medium egg = 70 cals, slice of white bread 100 cals, meringue nest 57 cals, 30g/matchbox size of Cheddar, 122 cals)

I do have sweet treats/chocolate, but I buy my own choice, so things like 2 finger Kitkat, single finger Twix, Club biscuit… these are all around 100 calories. I keep them in a tin and I can have one whenever I want to, but they are occasional treats – and they are always logged into my diary.

Without keeping a log of what you are eating and the calories foods contain, then it’s a bit like trying to travel from one place to another without a map. You may get there eventually BUT it’s likely to take you much longer than if you planned the route and used a map PLUS you might take a few wrong turnings and end up going back on yourself or even getting completely lost.

I have also learned not to plan each trip out of the house to include food. Once upon a time, I’d have included lunch with a trip into town, coffee and cake with a visit to the garden centre.

I now plan or even prepare a meal BEFORE I go out (usually a salad) so that I know exactly what I can eat as soon as I walk into the door… and don’t turn to “what I fancy” (usually high calorie carbs that don’t keep you full for very long…)

Make a list of the reasons WHY you want to lose weight. Keep it somewhere safe (stuck to the inside of a kitchen cupboard door?) and look at it from time to time, especially when you are raiding the kitchen for treats!

I always ask myself before eating something really calorific “Do I really want to eat this thing more than I want to lose weight this week?”. It’s called “mindful eating” – being aware of why you are considering eating – real hunger? Boredom? Temptation? Feeling fed up?

Have a glass of water, wait 5 minutes and consider whether you still want the food. Once it’s been snaffled down, it’s too late and you may end up feeling cross and angry with yourself….

….and that feeling (guilt, failure) lasts for a long time, much longer than the temporary enjoyment of whatever treat you ate….

Oh, and I always remind myself how good the feeling is of seeing a loss on the scales at my weekly weigh in! That wonderful feeling lasts for days! Don’t forget how that feels – you need to remind yourself of that feeling next time temptation strikes!

I’m healthier and fitter now at the age of 57 than I was 20 years ago…..

I am writing this as someone who had struggled all of my life (since the age of 9) to lose weight.  I have a significant disability that affects my mobility – use a wheelchair outside of the house.  I am also very short (4ft 8”).  It wasn’t until the age of 49 when I started to log everything and kept track of the calories I was consuming that the truth hit me between the eyes.  I was eating FAR TOO MUCH for a short sedentary person.  I changed my whole approach to food and eating it that everything else clicked into place 🙂

Just wished I’d found what worked for me years ago.

Smashing it!

P1030780I’ve been on my weight loss journey for seven and a half years now.

So many little things which have now become “normal” for me – not just in terms of eating behaviour, but also in my abilities to move – were once things I couldn’t even dream of when I first started on my journey.

I’ve always been disabled.  And for most of my life (from the age of 9) I’ve been overweight.

From my own personal perspective, it was easy to use my disability as an excuse as to why I was overweight and why I was unable to move MORE.

With hindsight, it was my WEIGHT that significantly prevented me from moving more.  I could barely stand for a few minutes, let alone walk any distance.  I would need someone to help fill the car with fuel as the whole process of standing whilst operating the pump was just too exhausting.

Whatever our abilities, we can all move just a little more, even if it’s just going for a trundle in the open air in a motorised wheelchair. In fact, the benefits of doing just that can be immense.

I have just returned from an amazing trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar. This is my third “adventure” holiday to far flung destinations and remote locations in as many years.  The trips have involved long haul flights, climbing into single engine 12-seater planes and being hoisted into and out of jeeps whilst on safari.  More are planned.

One of the day trips planned on this holiday was a boat trip in a traditional dhow (wooden boat). The thing I’ve always enjoyed about boat trips is that you jump on, travel about, see things and jump off.  Not too much walking involved.

Not this time!

On arrival at the beach, the tide was right out and I could see, much to my dismay, that the boats were waiting about half a mile out in the shallow water. I immediately started to worry that I’d not be able to get out there – walking across sand and then rocks and rock pools ankle deep in water.

BUT my choices were limited.

I either attempted that walk, or neither of us would be able to do the trip (already arranged and paid for). The drive to the beach had already taken 40 minutes. We really wanted a day away from the hustle and bustle of Stone Town.

As we waited and were all kitted out with our flippers and masks/snorkels, I was experiencing an inner fear that was rising deep within me.

Eventually, we were allocated a crew member, who’s task it was to walk small groups out to the waiting boats.

Our group was allocated “Big Show”, a huge gentleman built like a water buffalo!

Screenshot 2019-09-29 at 21.13.01
Mwinchum aka “Big Show”

“Big Show” took hold of my wrist firmly in one HUGE hand, his fingers holding me tightly. “I will help you Mama” he said and started to walk me towards the boat at a steady pace, taking account of my short legs and reduced stride length.

I couldn’t look forward as my eyes needed to concentrate on the uneven ground beneath my feet, avoiding rock pools and particularly slimy patches. All the time he kept reassuring me with the words “polepole, polepole” (Swahili for “slowly, slowly”). Before long, we had reached the group of boats and I was heaved aboard – not in the most ladylike fashion, but by now I was exhausted and keen to get aboard and have a seat!

Likewise, when we stopped for our lunch, the boat had little option but to anchor in the shallows with a half mile walk to the beach and restaurant we were lunching in.

But this time, I was less fearful. By now it was the middle of the day, the sun was blazing down on us (30 degree heat).  I slid into the water and up to my waist and Big Shot took my wrist.

This time, he walked me about 50 steps and then said “Stop. Rest.” I think he was aware of my laboured breathing (or should I say puffing!) The final part of this marathon was a climb up a steep sandy beach (see picture – this shows the tide right in). Once again, I arrived at my final destination, hot, exhausted, hungry and thirsty.

I took my seat int he shade and exclaimed “I think that deserves a Kili!” (local popular beer, Kilimanjaro). No sooner were the words uttered, then one arrived on the table in front of me, uncapped – delivered by a fellow passenger.

None of my fellow passengers knew anything about my walking abilities. We were all strangers meeting for the first time – French, American, Japanese, etc. But I have no doubt from comments during the trip that they admired what I achieved that day.

I have to say though, nobody was more impressed with my performance than I was myself!

Once again, I managed to truly achieve over and above what I thought I was physically able to.

And it was well worth it.

P1030785

Lifetime changes for a long life

I started my journey to lose weight and be as fit as I could for my 50th (2012)!

I’ve used many ways throughout my 7 year membership on the weight loss website I subscribe to, to keep my journey interesting and to learn what works best for me – I am very short (4ft 8″), 56 years old and don’t move very much on account of my disability. I use a wheelchair outside of the house.

One thing that has remained constant throughout is logging everything I eat and weighing out portions. If I have ever stopped doing that for any length of time, the weight starts to creep up again.

I have used 5:2 successfully and done a few rounds of the 8 week Blood Sugar Diet.
I now mostly try to avoid refined carbs (well, limit them!) so rice, pasta, cake, biscuits, pastries and bread (most things containing flour). I eat them occasionally (about once/twice a week, always small portions – 50g dry weight (rice/pasta), always wholewheat and ALWAYS measured). I try to eat alternatives – which on the whole, I now prefer!

I bulk out my meals with lots of vegetables – eat about 4-7 portions a day (home made soup or a salad for lunch, lots of veggies with dinner).

Through choice, I eat just two meals a day, that’s been for the past 2+ years. I eat lunch and dinner. I try to keep my eating to between 12 noon and 6pm. Outside of those times, I do drink tea and coffee and plenty of water. That’s a way that works for me, and I’m happy with this arrangement – not eating breakfast won’t work for everyone though. I used to LOVE breakfast and could never have imagined a few years ago that I’d skip it!

I don’t view exercise as a way to earn additional calories to eat – I use it as a way to remain flexible and independent. I do an hour long stretch and bounce seated routine around 4-7 times a week which lasts around an hour.

I try to do cardio exercise as often as possible, but because of my disability, it’s quite a challenge. For that I walk and run (HIIT) on a special treadmill called an Alter G which is able to support a percentage of my body weight as I walk and run – currently I exercise at 80% of my body weight. I do this for 30 minutes every other week. I’d love to do it weekly, but I need assistance to get into the machine and can only get this support fortnightly.

I keep on going…. as it’s what works for me.

I don’t deny myself anything in terms of food – however, I have changed over the course of my weight loss to eat much more mindfully – considering “Do I really want to eat this?” ahead of eating food that is particularly calorific or not very healthy.

Today I am eating a slice of home made carrot cake that I’ve made – I’ve worked out the calories and I’m going to have a slice as it is DEFINITELY worth it! I’ve sliced and frozen half of the cake (un-iced) in packs of two so that I can enjoy it on other days rather than knowing it’s there and needing to be consumed to stop it going off.

I have reduced the number of times I eat out as it’s impossible for me to stay within my low (1100 calorie) limit by eating out regularly – even if I choose wisely. But to be honest, I am very happy cooking my own meals and eating those, as I know precisely what’s in them – and I love, love LOVE my vegetables.

I rarely get a takeaway (perhaps 1 – 2 times a year – usually at others instigation when I am visiting friends). I used to resent these things, but I now accept and embrace them. I no longer view this as a tortuous journey but more a new way of life

I view my way of eating as keeping myself as healthy as I can in order to minimise the risk of developing middle aged illnesses (diabetes, stroke, heart attack…) and to maintain my mobility and independence.

I don’t judge my success by what others achieve nor do I judge others by the lifestyle they choose – I just try to do the best that I can for myself and in a way that works well for me.

It does help that I have an extremely supportive husband who’s happy to eat the same as I do – even though he doesn’t need to lose weight. He makes sure he does have plenty of little “extras” such as the odd biscuit, doughnut, cheese and crackers, crisps….

I hope this helps other understand that this really is a commitment for life, but it has the ability to change and prolong ones life.

P1070384 (1)

Singing & Moroccan Chicken

IMG_0070.JPG
Moroccan Chicken with Swede and French beans – 332 calories

Hello all, how are you this fine day?

I’ve been back at choir today (I sing in a Rock Choir) and was surprised how much I’d missed it – such a lovely bunch of people and our choir leader makes us laugh – a lot! He’s a natural comic and extrovert.

We are singing “Don’t Stop Believin'” (Group called journey and then Glee had a hit with it…)

Later this term we are singing “Hallelujah” – sure that one is going to be a bit of an ear worm….

Food today:

Brunch: 2 slices of High Protein loaf (Only 89 cals a slice and lovely and “chewy”) and 100g of avocado mashed onto it. It has Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seed, Brown Linseed, Poppy Seed, Millet, Golden Linseed in it.

Dinner: From Tesco ready-prepared Moroccan Chicken breast with mashed swede and green beans. Skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets in a tomato and apricot tagine sauce, with butternut squash, apricots, chickpeas, Ras El Hanout spicy sprinkle and pumpkin seeds garnish. 228 calories.

Vegetables really are such “good value” in terms of calories and making me feel full and satisfied…. 230g of swede mashed is just 55 calories and the beans (60g) are only 12!  I added 5g of butter to the swede (37 cals).

Exercise – singing and warm ups! Plus walking to and from the hall across the car park!