Healthy eating plan, beans and cous cous…

I’ve started a fitness plan because of the expanding middle haha. The gym, I attend, is running a course and so I’m tracking what is eaten. The app to track food is called Fitness Pal and is very good for recording what you are eating, drinking and any exercise. I’ve decided to cut out bread, rice, pasta and potato so my diet is on the low carbohydrate side. This is to curb appetite, hopefully. All the obvious stuff, such as sweets, chocolate, biscuits, processed food, etc. are banned. When eating out, may have some of the above although will try to avoid where possible. I’m also trying to cut down on alcohol, which is really hard.

Low carb diets are controversial, but recent studies indicate weight loss and improved health. The best way, in my view, is to be sensible. Still eat sweet potatoes, swede, carrots and copious amounts of other healthy green veg. Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms are suitable for this sort of plan. When hungry, fruit and nuts are the best snacks, although it is hard if you want chocolate.

My dodgy time is around 4pm. By this, I mean it is the time I’m hankering after food. To help with this, lunch is consumed after 1.30pm and even later, if possible. Dinner is around 6.30pm and this does help stop the ol’ hunger pangs a little. Sometimes, fruit and or nuts are consumed in the evening, but not too often. I’m keeping to around 1400 calories a day. This is quite high for me, but feel is sensible and will stop some of the hunger. Will update on my progress and do join in if you want? My plan is at the end of this post.

I’ve been sorting out my kitchen cupboards and now see some foodstuff that I’d forgotten about. I know, exciting times! Anyway, I’ve recently discovered and devised a couple of lunch time meals. Admittedly, the first one isn’t low carb, but delicious for a quick lunch.

Cous Cous Bean Salad.

Make cous cous by adding the boiling water and mix. Then add basil green pesto, beans (your choice, I used mixed salad beans). Add a few pine nuts and or pumpkin seeds. Chop up some sundried tomatoes. Add lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and mixed herbs. This makes a great lunch which is filling and healthy. Afterwards, you can add what you like such as boiled egg, ham, advocado, etc.

Cous Cous

Basil green pesto

Beans

Pine nuts and or pumpkin seeds

Sundried tomatoes

Lemon juice, olive oil and mixed herbs

Bean Cous Cous…

The next revelation happened during the recent Cotswolds trip. We stopped in a B & B and the proprietor offered us homemade baked beans for breakfast and as they were so delicious, I decided upon my return, to copy and make my own. This is how I made them…

Chop carrot, onion and add tomatoes, onion, puree, stock, herbs, garlic, pepper and splash of treacle. Boil and blend, then add the beans. Cook in oven for about an hour in a casserole dish.

As you can see, I had sliced avocado, roasted mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and low fat cream cheese with the beans and even though I say so myself, the meal was surprisingly delicious and filling.

Haricot beans

Onion

Garlic (clove)

Large carrot

Veg stock

Passata and some tomato puree with some boiling water (about 1/2 pint)

2 tins tomatoes

Paprika, salt, ground black pepper

Chili powder

Optional treacle

Bay leaf (optional)

Home made baked beans with sliced avocado and blob of soft cheese…

 

Sum up

  • Low carb – Cutting out bread, rice, pasta
  • Track what you are eating
  • Lunch is consumed after 1.30pm and even later, if possible. Dinner is around 6.30pm
  • 1400 calories per day
  • Prepare and cook healthy meals

 

 

Ref.

https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb

Will this be the year of walking and photography?

Unfortunately, I’ve been poorly for much of January and only just getting back to normal. To be honest, it has made me feel low and lethargic. Hence, the lack of posts lately! However, one thing I have enjoyed is copious amounts of walking, as I’m recuperating.

This year seems to be the year for walking, as a form of exercise. The weather can be cold and grey, but it has also been sunny, cold with some beautiful sunsets. Walking is a great way to explore places and become fitter.

If you mix it up a bit, it becomes fun too. For example, you can go to local parks, countryside walks, town or city walks or go around a National Trust place.

Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge

 

London walks are enormous fun. You can discover squares, alleys, lanes, parks, heaths, gardens, palaces, rivers and so on. The variety of terrain is fantastic for the urban investigator and as well as historic areas you can view the visually spectacular as well. Certainly a different way of exercising and seeing the capital!

Another way of making walking even more interesting is to do them in conjunction with another hobby. I’ve recently participated in a photography course which although basic, provided a wonderful insight into the world of photography. So sometimes the camera 🎥 comes with me and I stop and take photos.

Yesterday, I went to Haysden Park and snapped away. The blue sky and sunshine was very uplifting and I was impressed with the improvements made to the paths and area. When we arrived, I was furious to see you had to pay to park which is ludicrous. Yes, I know it may go towards the upkeep, but can’t help feeling it’s a bit ‘brave new world’ when one day, we will only have a few green places left to go to, and will have to pay to enter and enjoy them. Sorry, 😐 got a little creative there, but paying to enter green spaces is the beginning of the end, isn’t it?

The park was busy, probably because of the glorious weather. The lake is beautiful and we loved seeing all the birds, particularly the graceful swans. Two swans had a noisy fight, literally a few feet away, which was captured with the Nikon (just).

The benefits of walking are tantamount to other exercise, especially if you do 10,000 steps per day. Rather a tall order to achieve daily, but a worthwhile challenge. If you are not used to exercise, it is the safest form of exercise, a way to lose weight and radically improve your health. 150 minutes per week of exercise, is the recommended amount we should all be doing and walking is something fairly easy to slot into life.

For me, I’ve been enjoying local parks, group countryside walks and solitary dog walks through local woodland and orchards. What I do fancy is some more city walks because it is great to explore new areas. Sometimes I just snap away on my phone rather than take a camera, but I’ve enjoyed wandering around the countryside and recommend to all. Take a good map so you don’t get lost and walk at a brisk pace. The speed you should be walking is 3 mph and be able to talk but not sing.

A great source of ideas is the internet because you can find some simple circular routes near where you live. To pass the time, I sometimes listen to a podcast or music, but this is rare, as I like to enjoy the surroundings in peace. All very tranquil and relaxing, particularly if you are having a stressful time.

My latest passion is putting a few of my photos on Instagram and a great way to learn from other professionals and decide what makes a good photo. Plus, it is somewhere to file your photos and receive opinions/comments from others.

 

Source: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx

Ramblings about Fitness and 2018

According to research, walking makes you happy, healthy and can save your life. Apparently, this is probably the answer to the inactivity which is common now and the associated problems such as obesity. Face it, walking is a simple, cheap occupation and not very time consuming. I still like to run and workout, but increasingly, venture outside and go for a brisk walk.

The inactive lifestyle that seems so popular now, is serious because four out of ten men and five out of ten women are not moving enough. 60% of adults, and 30% of children are overweight or obese and this is costing the UK, £10 billion per year.

My issue with this is that not enough is done to help prevent the various illnesses caused by inactivity and overeating. It is something I seriously struggle with. People tell me this is because doctors want to prescribe drugs for business reasons. This is probably a little unfair, but surely more can be done to promote a healthy life? The stuff on TV tends to promote diet, fitness, and is obviously promoting certain products, businesses and supermarkets. More could be about stuff like new activities, hobbies, books, etc. which feed the soul!

So we need to do more and eat healthier in order to avoid cancer, heart disease and diabetes, etc. Apart from these reasons walking is a way of meeting others; it is cheap, usually safe from injuries and a good way to get to where you need to be both mentally and physically.

One reason I like to exercise is to…, wait for it, raise my mood. If I’m feeling lazy and eating too much wrong food or drink, the mood does become lower. Clearly, exercise combats this and if you run/walk outside it is a great antidote to the winter blues.

Research also shows an increase in creative flow. This doesn’t surprise me because often when out running or walking, I find myself forming ideas about this blog or a new project.

According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, going for a walk can spark creativity. “Researchers administered creative-thinking tests to subjects while seated and while walking and found that the walkers thought more creatively than the sitters,”

My plan is to attempt a healthy month in February. The reason I haven’t done the diet bit much in January is because I can’t cope with the Dry January thing (yes, a letter has been sent to the charity concerned) and everybody flocking to the gym. My aim is to lose some weight as I’ve put over a stone on since this time last year. I’ve started with the exercise and cut out some naughty foods, and a serious attempt is booked for February. Recently, I listened to a podcast and they suggested listing things you wanted to do this year. I’ve incorporated mine into The Plan. This way, I can look back and see what I’ve accomplished. The notes/ideas are in brackets and may be changed.

The Plan

Exercise (maybe do an organized 10k run, maybe? ;-))

Explore (local walking and this has already been started)

Read (books not internet and new focus on non-fiction)

Travel (particularly UK/Holland/Scandinavia??)

Healthier foods (new recipes, already made some veggie prawn patties)

Avoid drinking alcohol during the day (it wipes me out and makes me poorly)

Photography (maybe do another course?)

So I’ll continue to run/walk and hopefully some of the December weight will dissipate eventually. Oh, it is an ongoing battle, but someone’s got to do it.

 

Sources: https://www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/Walking%20works_summary_AW_Web.pdf

https://www.prevention.com/fitness/benefits-walking-every-day

Beating the January Blues – 8 Tips…

The January blues appear to be even more prevalent this year. I’ve read several articles and heard many people complain about feeling ill and or despondent this year. Does this resonate with you?

Psychological research helps discover the reasons for this annual lack of vitality and is intensified by a perception of how someone wants things to be and how they actually are. The disparity between the two are highlighted during January after the excitement of December. This is not helped by the cultural activities which include spending so much condensed time with friends and family and in my opinion, now it is splashed across the internet, is exacerbated even more. Apparently, it is a time when people think about what they have achieved and this can lower their mood. The research at the University of Exeter explores what the mechanisms underpinning depression are and find the underlying factors which cause depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders. The research concentrates on three main areas which include underlying psychological mechanisms, psychological treatments plus trials and third, increase the accessibility of evidence-based treatments for as many people as possible.

The research determines how you can attempt to improve your mood and unsurprisingly include physical and mental exercise with an emphasis on socialising, hobbies but there is an interesting thought process that also helps according to Professor Ed Watkins, Director of the University of Exeter’s Mood Disorders Centre (MDC), :

“There is good evidence that being more active – physically and mentally – connecting with other people, getting absorbed in interesting activities, becoming more concrete and specific in your thinking (eg, by asking how?) rather than thinking about meanings and implications (eg, asking why?) all help people to feel better.”

(Source: https://www.exeter.ac.uk/research/feature/janblues/)

Ask yourself how rather than just why? This is making the thinking process more discernible, helpful and can change our perceptions.

The unit is working with Dutch colleagues processing controlled trials by providing internet treatment. Preliminary data shows this treatment reduces the risk of depression by a third. The unit is working with the charity Help for Heroes to support the mental health of veterans and their families. Also, a trial will be implemented by NHS Cornwall with a 1000 patients. Interesting times.

One thing we do know, is feeling low in January is common and so at least if you are feeling fed up, you know you are not alone.  Studies have shown that you can boost your mood by having Vitamin D. During the darker months we are not getting enough Vitamin D due to the lack of sunshine. This is another reason to go out for a walk!

Many foods help with this too and include:

Fortified breakfast cereals and dairy, eggs and fish such as sardines, herrings and salmon are all good sources. Plus, along with improving your mood, topping up on vitamin D can help strengthen the immune system and keep bones and teeth healthy.

(Souce: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/keep-momentum-how-beat-january-blues-0)

Another tip is to lay on the floor with your legs raised which helps boost energy and makes you feel calm. This is from the Chinese principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and relaxes the back and opens the stomach energy channel. Health expert Fiona Slatter suggests you do it when you wake up when your body needs the energy.

To sum up, there are many things you can do to help with the January blues but obviously if you feel really ill you should visit the good old GP. Personally, my favourite exercise at present is a countryside walk. I’ve done quite a bit of walking lately, some in a solitary way and some with others. Going with a local group is good because you hear some of the local news and about how others are coping with their lives. Exploring the local area by yourself is a fruitful way of doing something for your soul and is invigorating.

Something like checking out your outside space could be prudent. Wash your car, sweep the drive or tidy the garden. You may start chatting to the neighbours! Also, book a day trip, holiday or some sort of adventure. If you haven’t much dosh (it is January after all) go on an exploration adventure and take a picnic!

Hope you find some of the research and tips useful because it does seem to be a widely discussed issue. Think we all need some motivation to spark some life back into ourselves. As usual, I need to follow this advice too. Sometimes, you do have to just embrace the winter months and at least we can try to convince ourselves that spring is around the corner!

Top Tips…

Physical and mental exercise

Socialising

Hobbies

Becoming more concrete and specific in your thinking (eg, by asking how?) rather than thinking about meanings and implications (eg, asking why?)

Vitamin D

Diet (foods above)

Exploring new areas

Use your outside space

Book a holiday/adventure/day out

It’s all about the insta! https://www.instagram.com/mishmashmediablog/?hl=en 

Sources:

https://www.exeter.ac.uk/research/feature/janblues/

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/keep-momentum-how-beat-january-blues-0

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-154138/How-beat-January-blues.html

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/the-january-blues-what-is-it-and-how-can-you-beat-it

Photos – Andy’s

Rochester Dickensian Festival, celebrations, musings and updates…

Remembering what Christmas is about…

Christmas, which annoyingly starts earlier and earlier in the UK, is not always about being happy, joyful and full of glitz for many people. It can be a time of childhood memories, sadness and grief. Everyone, has someone they have lost and miss and unfortunately, for me, it seems a time when I remember missing family. Probably, most people feel like this, don’t they? If someone is not embracing Christmas the reasons could be some of the above and not because they are horrible. Unfortunately, the irritating commercialism, which starts after summer, doesn’t help. It is a reflective time and I think we must all remember this and be aware that not everyone is happy and joyful at Christmas all of the time. Personally, I enjoy it when it finally arrives but hate all the stuff before December. Does any of the above resonate with you?

Dickensian Christmas Festival…

Once I spotted the ad for the ‘Dickensian Christmas Festival’ it went in the diary. I’ve been feeling fed up and eager to have a day out. It is a wonderful occasion when folks dress up as Dickensian characters and partake in various activities which starts off with the morning parade.

After the parade the characters wander about amongst the crowds and mingle. Some perform mini plays, magic, readings, dances, singing and photo opportunities. Also, there are various activities aimed at children, such a Punch and Judy. It is a wonderful and great way to immerse oneself in all of these English traditions.

The parade was an exciting affair, led by the Mayor of Medway  and starting in the High Street onwards into the Esplanade and continuing up Castle Hill before finishing on the Boley Hill Stage. A fantastic site which is a brilliant festive occasion for everyone from the surrounding communities.

We enjoyed some delicious mulled wine and a mince pie, then later on, for lunch, we succumbed to a juicy burger. It was great fun to spot all the Dickensian characters and the day flew by.

CAMRA Christmas Meal…

Last Sunday, we had our CAMRA Christmas meal which was a great success. This was partly because the wives turned up and I was able to have a good natter. My only complaint, was that I didn’t like any of the beers because they were all dark, so I had wine. The establishment didn’t have any craft beers either and this surprised me, because even my local has and I think they are missing a trick. Anyway, the food was excellent and delicious and this was followed by a jolly singsong of Christmas carols and a visit by Father Christmas. The Father Christmas was very authentic I must say! After this excitement, the village tree was lit with much fanfare. Another excellent day!

Updates

The presents have now been wrapped, cards delivered so now it is time to concentrate on food. I shall try and locate the Christmas pud which is in a cupboard somewhere and at least two years old! This is the last one of the batch of puddings, so I will have to do some more next year. For the actual day, I will make some mince pies, a chocolate squidgy roll and a cake or two. Busy times!

Yes, you’ve probably guessed it, the fitness thing is not going to plan at the moment. Having said that, it could be worse. I’ve stopped eating rubbish and not drinking too much. Also, I’ve really enjoyed some invigorating walks around the surrounding countryside with the borrowed dog, Oscar.

The gym has been used four or five times a week so I don’t feel too fat but can see the weight is not dropping off either. From January the 2nd it will be all systems go though. I promise.

Promoting the blog – Instagram

My latest social media effort has been with Instagram which is fun particularly as I’m interested in photography. Photos are being posted most days and I am beginning to receive some interest now. It seems better than Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest but I will keep you informed. So do follow me if you are on Instagram.

Enjoy the festivities everyone and thank you for reading my blog, liking and commenting which is much appreciated.

Andyxxx

#Running again and some healthy tips… Update

Pleased to say, that I’m beginning to run on the treadmill again. It is rather exacting and the “random” level has been lowered so the hill climbing isn’t too ridiculous. Also, during the so called run (shuffle), I’m tending to walk a little too. It isn’t a good idea to overdo things.

The funny thing is, moving at a faster pace should be harder, but I find the process is advantageous and oddly relaxing. The same with fast walking. You feel you’ve achieved something and are re-energized afterwards.

Apparently, the best foods to eat after a run are eggs, bacon, toast, yoghurt and fruit. For lunch a chicken sandwich with a side salad or a burger with sweet potato fries. So a selection of healthy fats, lean protein, dairy and fruits are ideal. When over 50 years old, it is recommended to try ‘protein pacing’ and spread out your meals so you eat about every four hours and drink plenty of water. This is good for muscle repair so make sure you get plenty of healthy protein. To be honest, this is good advice because once you start getting really hungry, you start manically stuffing rubbish food and the diet falls apart. If that happens call it a PLUS DAY rather than a bad day, and start again the following day.

I’m pleased to say that it is ok to run before breakfast if you don’t run for more than an hour. This is great because it is the best time to exercise, in my opinion. Going to the gym in the morning is far more successful than in the evening. It’s easy not to bother after work and the energy levels are so much better in the morning.

Anyway, it has been a slow process for me, but the aches and pains have gone, at least for now. As running was on the after Christmas agenda, it is a good result. Well goodish. Still feel that fitness should take a higher priority, but you have to have fun as well, don’t you?

Apparently, a beer or two is OK because it offers fluids, sodium, potassium and carbs although you shouldn’t choose a beer over four per cent alcohol. Well, that’s me in the dog house then. I  drink the craft beers (American IPA) and they are usually high in alcohol. Oh well, I am improving and it is a tricky time of year…

Tonight, I’ve had a lovely salmon stew with spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes, fresh basil and it was rather good, even if I say so myself.

So I’m trying to retain some sort of sensible diet but it is challenging isn’t it? Taking small steps is a good way to get going so I’ve managed to cut out rubbish food, particular processed sugar. It is all about having the right frame of mind and when you are poorly, it is hard. It is great to feel better and hopefully I will stay healthy. Anyway, hope you are all well and looking forward to having some time off at the end of this month for the festivities.

To sum up:

  • Take exercise and build up slowly
  • Morning exercise is best for motivation (in my opinion)
  • Eggs, bacon, toast, yoghurt and fruit are best after exercise. For lunch chicken, beef with salad
  • Have a treat!
  • Check out my previous foody blogs for inspiration
  • If you have a bad day just call it a PLUS DAY and start again, the following day.

Thank you for reading my blog,it is appreciated and don’t forget to follow. 🙂

,  Salmon Stew

 

 

Source: https://www.runnersworld.co.uk/nutrition/10-running-nutrition-questions-get-answered

Are you feeling SAD?

With the onset of winter, it is easy to feel tired and fed up. The clocks change and make the mornings glaringly light for a few days but the evenings darken immediately.

When I went to Iceland, a young chap told me they only have about three hours of daylight in November and everything tends to get done during that time. During the summer, they party into the early hours as it barely gets dark at all.

In the UK, around 6% suffer from seasonal affective disorder or Sad and in countries such as Canada, Denmark and Sweden, these symptoms are so severe that people cannot function properly.

The condition can cause disruption of sleep, weight gain and depression. Apparently, women are much more likely to suffer from SAD and this is thought to be because of evolution…

Robert Levitan, a professor at the University of Toronto says,

“Ten thousand years ago, during the ice age, this biological tendency to slow down during the wintertime was useful, especially for women of reproductive age because pregnancy is very energy-intensive. But now we have a 24-hour society, we’re expected to be active all the time and it’s a nuisance.”

Many people get the “winter blues” and this is characterised by feeling uninterested in your surroundings, unmotivated and fatigued. Around 15% suffer these symptons although my humble opinion would put it higher than this.

Light therapy is recognised as helpful for people suffering badly. Many people suffer from low spirits during the cold, dark months. However, sometimes you can embrace it, as I have done and explore other places in the world, such a Norway, Rome or warmer climes like the Canary Islands during the winter months. Or just have a jolly day out or a long walk preferably with a lunch break in the pub! Curling up with a cup of tea and a good book is another favourite of mine too. A break and change of routine, during the winter months is helpful and refreshing. Too much emphasis on summer holidays can become tedious and it is interesting to explore different areas and participate in a variety of activities.

So what is the solution? The main thing that will cheer you up is socialising. Sometimes I will invite someone for a meal and take time planning and preparing it. Having a good natter is fun and enlightening. But as for December, it does go on a bit, doesn’t it?

Of course, the most obvious thing that may help is going outside to exercise, even if only for a few minutes a day. Nothing more boring that being stuck in an office. Put on your brightest clothes, (we all wear too much black and grey) and wander out for some fresh air. You will catch some light somewhere among the grey clouds and feel better moving your body.

So what do you do to get through the winter? Do share!

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/30/sad-winter-depression-seasonal-affective-disorder