Tag Archives: healthy eating

Eating healthily and trying MYHK

15 Jun MYHK pea risotto

I’ve been working hard to eat healthily this year. I’m fortunate enough to be supported by The Athlete’s Palate, but it’s still hard for me. I expected to have an increased appetite whilst marathon training (especially as a breastfeeding mum), but I’d forgotten that that hunger sometimes lingers after the race. I’ve also been struggling with my appetite because I’m so tired. My baby looks like my husband, but she definitely has some of my personality traits. I’m sure I’ll be glad that she is extremely determined at some stage, but right now, I’d love it if M would sleep. She just wants to run around all the time. She might only be 7 months old, but she can already walk a bit (and can run when she holds my fingers!)

To make my life as easy as possible, I always make sure that I plan my meals in advance. This ensures that I have the necessary ingredients at home and that I don’t have to make meal decisions when I’m hungry. I also prepare my breakfast the night before, so that when I get up it’s easy for me to finish making it. In the evening, Stuart usually looks after M whilst I make our dinner – this gives them a chance to play and gives me a break as I enjoy being in the kitchen. However, I find lunch the most challenging meal as M needs lots of attention. Sometimes I choose to have a salad that i can prepare the night before, but at other times, I just need something quick, easy and filling. I try not to resort to ready meals as most of them are bland and unhealthy. Lots of supermarkets have ‘healthy’ ranges, but they are often uninspiring or there aren’t many vegetarian options.

I was given the chance to try three new ready meals by MYHK (my healthy kitchen), which sounded like a perfect solution for my problem. The meals are all under 500 calories with no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. They include fresh ingredients and have other (specified) nutritional benefits.

The three meals that I was sent to try were:

  • Chicken Paella
  • Prawn Katsu
  • Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto

I’ve been a vegetarian virtually all of my life, so I recruited my husband to try two of the dishes. (The other flavours that are available are: Moroccan Prawn, Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Risotto and Oriental Chicken).

Chicken Paella

The special advantage of this meal is that it’s low in fat and high in protein and fibre.

MYHK chicken paella

I’m definitely not a food blogger and neither is my husband – we completely failed to take a photo of this, so here’s one that we’ve ‘borrowed’ from the MYHK website.

Stuart says: “Paella wouldn’t usually be something I’d choose but I enjoyed this one. The chicken was a step up from the majority of ready meals and was good solid pieces and nicely flavoured. The chorizo was less oily than some and was a nice addition. I would have preferred a slightly stronger flavour but the meal wasn’t bland.  It did feel like the meal was balanced and the ingredients went well together. The portion size is broadly equivalent to most common supermarket ready meals and I would have preferred a slightly larger size (particularly if I were undertaking a higher training load).”

 

Prawn Katsu

The special advantage of this meal is that it’s high in protein and low in saturated fat and sugar.

Stuart says: “This was my favourite out of the two. I enjoy a curry and this includes katsu which I’ve eaten in Japan. The split of sauce to the ingredients worked really well with this meal as the rice didn’t get soggy when being microwaved but was easy to eat and mix together. The prawns were reasonable quality and a bit more generous than seen in some other meals. The sauce was really nice albeit the pickled carrot packs a punch and it was spicier than I expected – I don’t mind relatively hot food but I know Tamsyn would have really struggled with a vegetarian version. The lighter jasmin rice helped balance the heat but I could see some people getting put off. As with the paella I would have preferred a slightly larger size although this would be filling compared to the usual ready meals seen.”

 

MYHK prawn

 

Pea, mint and rocket risotto (vegetarian)

The special advantage of this meal is that it’s 1 of your 5 a day, and it’s also low in sugar and saturated fat.

MYHK pea risotto MYHK pea risotto close up

Risotto is one of my favourite meals, but I’ve never made it at home. There are several reasons for this – firstly, my favourite risotto is mushroom risotto and Stu hates mushrooms, but secondly, I believe that risotto can be time consuming to make as you need to stir it continuously.

This risotto isn’t just made with Arborio rice, but also with quinoa. I liked this as it gave it a slightly different flavour as well as increasing its nutritional value.

As soon as I opened the packaging, I could smell the peas and mint – they were really aromatic and got my taste buds watering.

The risotto was topped with rocket (arugula). This is quite a bitter leaf, but paired with the creamy onion sauce, I thought it balanced nicely. Another interesting touch to cut through the creaminess was the addition of some pickled red cabbage. I adore red cabbage and would never have thought of pairing it with risotto before.

Overall, I really liked this meal. It was a reasonable size for a ready meal (although I’d have preferred a slightly larger portion with a few more calories) and looked appetising as well as tasting good. The price is more than a lot of ready meals, but comparable with the types of things I like, such as Bol ready meals.

 

These meals are currently available from Waitrose and Ocado with an RRP of £3.95.

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Friday Five – 5 foods to avoid for a healthier and happier life

8 Jan

It’s the start of the year and if you made any New Year’s Resolutions, it’s likely that one of them related to weight-loss. I couldn’t find any UK statistics, but data from University of Scranton, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology showed that ‘lose weight’ was the #1 new year’s resolution.

For many people, this will mean taking a hard line on what they eat, which can backfire and lead to binge eating and other unhealthy habits, so how can you make some sensible changes to your diet?

Should you cut out carbs?

Is it OK to eat after 7pm?

What about fasting every week?

What I’m going to suggest is a strategy that is more sustainable and which is specific to you.

These are the foods you should almost never eat:

  1. Any food that you find addictive

You know the kind of thing I mean – it’s that jar of Nutella that keeps luring you back to the cupboard, or the biscuit barrel… or, for me, the open bag of granola. It can even be snacks that are healthy, such as nuts – they key is in moderation.

If you know that there is something that you eat compulsively, then it’s best to avoid it, or purchase it in smaller packets.

nutella

2. Any food that doesn’t make you feel good

I’m fairly lucky in that I have a cast iron stomach, but many of my friends find that certain foods can have unpleasant or uncomfortable side effects. A friend of mine gets a little ‘gassy’ if he eats pork, so that’s something he avoids.

I know it’s not a food, but drinking cola makes me giddy and hyperactive, so I try not to drink it too often. However, I don’t drink alcohol and I do like cola, so I’ve not cut it out completely.

3. Any food you don’t enjoy

At the start of my weightloss journey I swapped my lunchtime sandwiches for a home made salad. Amongst the sald vegetables that I included was celery. This may be normal for you, but it was a change for me.

I hate celery. Celery soup is fine, but I just don’t like raw celery. I’ve tried to like it for years, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there are plenty of other vegetables that I enjoy, so why should I torture myself with a food that has little nutritional value?

Beetroot, goat’s cheese and marmite are beloved of many vegetarians. I won’t deny their merits, but as I dislike the taste of them, it makes eating them an ordeal.

I don’t advocate cutting out entire food groups, but if there are particular foodstuffs that don’t tickle your tastebuds, just don’t eat them! Enjoying your meals means that you are less likely to be tempted by unhealthy items.

celery

4. Any food that makes you feel guilty

So many times I’ve eaten something that doesn’t sound like it should be included in a diet plan – brownies, Danish pastries, ice-cream, cookies… I have a sweet tooth, but maybe for you, it’s crisps or savoury treats.

The problem is that it doesn’t always end at one item. It spirals. I have a bar of chocolate… and then I feel guilty that I’ve ‘failed’… so I’ll have some cake… and then I give up and have some biscuits… until I’ve spent the day/weekend/week bingeing.

I then promise myself that I’ll start again on Monday… but the cycle happens again. I eat something that makes me feel bad and it escalates into a situation where I no longer feel in control.

I now decide what is OK for me to eat and try not to be too strict. Eating a doughnut is not a failure, it is part of a balanced diet. As long as I eat well the majority of the time, the odd less healthy item is fine.

5. Any food that isn’t really food

As much as possible, I prepare my food at home from scratch. This is proving to be a challenge at the moment as I only have two hob rings and a microwave (what I would give for an oven!) However, it’s not impossible.

What I can avoid is anything that contains lots of additives. Instead of choosing a ‘low fat’ yoghurt (that is probably packed with artificial sweeteners), I opt for a full fat plain yoghurt. If I want a treat, I choose dark chocolate in preference to cheap milk chocolate.

Don’t try to change everything at once. Remember the 80:20 rule. As long as you’re doing well the majority of the time, then the odd ‘less healthy’ meal is OK.

What are your personal healthy eating guidelines?

 

Monday Morning Motivation – Are you motivated to lose weight in 2015?

12 Jan

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight? If so, then you’re not alone.

Sticking to Your New Year�s Resolution for Healthy Eating

Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Winning at Weight Loss

Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Round up of my first week of a crazy year

11 Jan

I’ve set so many goals for myself that 2015 is going to be a crazy hectic year.

I’ve already got back to some training, but I can’t train outside on my bike at the moment and I’m also not back to swimming yet, so I’ve been doing a lot of running. I’ve also been trying to inspire new runners and have been focusing on healthy eating, which is really hard when people keep bringing in to the office boxes of chocolates and biscuits that they didn’t eat at Christmas. I swear that I’m based in an office full of feeders, but I’m resisting them all! I tracking my progress with healthy eating using Giveit100. Follow me at: https://giveit100.com/@tamsynsmith/hdhzbl My terrible videos are also appearing on Instagram, as that seems to be the easiest way to upload them to Giveit100

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Monday: 10k tempo run with LRR
  • Tuesday: 1 hour spin with SUTRI (and my first ride on a real bike since before my op! I’m now allowed to commute to work on my bike again, thank goodness!)
  • Wednesday: Coaching LRR – which involved doing some squats and some light jogging with some new/returning from injury runners
  • Thursday: This was #run2workday. I didn’t feel I could fit in any more running, so I led my first workplace beginners’ running group session. Two of my colleagues came – one of whom is a relatively experienced runner who has had a couple of years off and the other who is a complete novice. The day started with torrential rain, but by the time we went out, the sun was shining and it was gorgeous. We had a fun jog/walk session and I appreciated the opportunity to leave the office and get some fresh air – I must do it more often, as I’m spending too much time at a screen these days.
    In the evening, I did a 5000m track session with STC. I started out way too fast, but settled down for the second 400m. I was a little way back from one of the guys who swims in my lane, and finally managed to catch up with him at about 2.2km. It was very windy at the track, so I decided to tuck in behind the other runner for 200m to try to conserve energy. It was my slowest km, but I think it helped me in the end as I was feeling tired before I started. At about 4.8km, Donna caught up with me, but I think he shoelace came undone, so in the end, I didn’t have anyone to sprint against. Hopefully next time there will be a few more runners who are my pace or slightly faster so that I get dragged along. I’m hopeful that I can get another sub 25 minute 5k time again soon.
    When I got home, I received an email from RunKeeper:RunKeeper PB Jan 14
    I’m not really sure that I deserve it, but I’ll take it! 🙂
  • Friday: This was rest day… and I was so glad that it was.
  • Saturday: I started the day with a parkrun. I love going, but I know that I’m going to have to swap some runs for swims this year. I might alternate until I’ve done my half marathon in April, before switching to swimming almost every week. I was feeling quite tired after Thursday night’s track session, so I didn’t push too hard and was pleased to finish in 26:37.
    parkrun Jan 2014 26 mins
    In the evening, I made some ‘addictive sweet potato burritos‘… only, I didn’t really make burritos, they were more like tacos as my tortillas were a bit small, so I didn’t fold them up. I liked the recipe and may try them again.
  • Sunday: Today was the first of the Marafun training runs as part of the build up to Southampton Half Marathon. We did an 8.64km run at a 5:33/km pace (but Stuart threw in some killer intervals). I was tired, so it felt hard, but I know I can do this. Chris was out in town filming the runners – I’m wearing the turquoise calf guards in this video:  https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1574997442718965

I think next week will be equally busy, especially as it will include my first race of the year: Stubbington 10k.

Stubbington entry number

I’ve run Stubbington 3 times before:

  • 2012: 53:03
  • 2013: 55:14
  • 2014: 55:17

My 10k PB is 51:06 set at Eastleigh in March 2012. At that time, 25:33 was my PB for 5k, and I know I’m faster than that now, so there’s hope that I might be able to squeak a PB at Stubbington (or at least stop my downward trend!)

What have I been reading this week?

This infographic on cycling equipment:

Pro Cycling and Fitness

Overall, this week it’s been a relief to have a gentle introduction back into my exercise routine.

Free ebook

6 Jan

OK, so I’ve posted a few times about New Year’s Resolutions and taken part in various debates online about whether or not they work, but whatever you think, there’s nothing stopping you from trying to change your life and doing it one small step at a time is a move in the right direction.

In 2014, I was contacted by the lovely people at Monster Supplements, who asked me whether I would be interested in contributing to an ebook about protein, nutrition, healthy eating and working out. I jumped at the opportunity and was delighted to finally see a copy yesterday evening. Now you too can download the ebook:

Link to free ebook

KickStart2015_FitnessEbook

Giveit100 – what am I focusing on?

5 Jan

I’ve started my Giveit100 challenge today:

I’m going to focus on healthy eating and making sensible food choices for 100 days.

This morning I weighed myself. The scales read 67.2kg, which is 148lbs or 10st 8lbs. It’s not horrendous, but my goal weight is 10kg (22lbs) lighter, as I want to weigh 126lbs or 9st. I got down to that weight when I did Weight Watchers and I think it’s possible for me to get back there. I know that if I lose weight, I will find it easier to run and it should also help with my asthma.

I’m not following a set diet. My intention is to do my best to make healthy choices and to track what I eat. I’m not going to use an app like MyFitnessPal as I end up getting frustrated with how long it takes to find everything online. I’m not going to count calories and I’m not going to think about WW points. Instead, I intend to just write down everything I eat, so that I’m more conscious of what I’m putting into my body.

I’m not going to share my entire food diary here, but when I do, please feel free to comment. I don’t always eat enough protein and I need to make sure that I get enough iron.

Today started with 30g porridge (made with water, as usual) and some dried mango. I know dried fruit is quite calorific, but it tastes nice and is better than eating oatsosimple or some other ready-made breakfast. I drank a pint of water, but since then I’ve only had a large mug of Earl Grey tea, so I should drink some more. I also had a couple of chocolates in the office (a malteaser and a Bounty from a box of Celebrations – oops!) I\m not going to beat myself up about this – I’ve managed to ignore the entire box of chocolate biscuits all morning.

Avocado, tomato, rocket and watercress salad

For lunch I had a lovely salad. I decided not to have my usual salad with smoked cheese and instead opted for half an avocado with six cherry tomatoes and some rocket (arugula) and watercress. I’ve also got a couple of raw carrots and a small Granny Smith apple as snacks. I have a banana, but I might not eat it.

For tea, I intend to eat some of the chilli that I made yesterday with some rice. I may eat a yoghurt later if I am hungry.

New Year’s Resolutions – is it worth making any?

27 Dec

In 2015, I will be:

  • spending more time with my family (whilst also making new friends and expanding my social circle)
  • rekindling my passion for an old hobby (and trying my hand at something new)
  • shifting that extra stone/14lbs/6kg and not giving into any unhealthy temptations whatsoever.

Yeah, right.

With an estimated 14.5 million adults making New Year’s resolutions that focus on fitness and health, self-improvement (or, at least, the desire for self-improvement) is a national hobby here in the UK. Yet very few of us – some estimates say only around 8% – achieve their New Year’s resolutions. If this is the case, and if the true definition of madness is ‘repeating the same action, over and over, hoping for a different result’, then this year we have to mix it up a little if we’re going to achieve our goals.

I’ve got some huge goals and A races for 2015, but I’ve also planned some fun events and less important races to help keep me motivated (whilst never taking my eye off the ultimate goal of completing an Ironman!)

Get fit and have fun for a good cause

Sometime, it’s helpful to have a little extrinsic motivation to keep you going. It might be that you agree to do something with friends, or perhaps the thought of raising money for charity will spur you on. Several friends have told me how they managed to while away the time whilst running marathons by calculating how much each step/km/mile was worth to their chosen charity in terms of sponsorship.

If the thought of losing the pounds by spending endless hours on a dreadmill makes you worry about losing your mind, then how about the idea of getting your mates together to take part in a Human Race Macmillan Cycletta? These women-only bike rides are set in stunning, family friendly host venues. There is also a range of distance on offer from 50-150km. There are five events around the country featuring spectacular routes between 50km and 150km, taking place in Bedfordshire, Surrey, the New Forest, Cheshire and Scotland.

If you’re not female, or want to take part in a mixed-gender event, why not search for a local sportive? Alternatively, if you visit the website of a charity that you’d like to support, they may have places on events you’d like to enter or might host their own events. If you’re worried that you’re not fit enough to do an event yet, perhaps you could volunteer so that yu witness the wide range of ages, sizes and abilities who participate in most sporting events.

Pick up an old hobby, lose weight and make new friends

Rekindle your high school love of netball, volleyball and dodgeball, or try something completely new like boxfit or Insanity classes with social sports clubs such as GO Mammoth, the UK’s largest social sports and fitness club. These kind of clubs exist simply to make your life more fun and social, without the seriousness and commitment involved in joining a specialist sports club or gym.

If you’re in North American, you might be able to join November Project: http://november-project.com/ It’s a fantastic FREE fitness movement. If you’ve been to  session, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you’d like to take part in a free timed 5k run every Saturday morning, then have a look to see whether parkrun is in your country yet, and if so, where the nearest locations are: http://www.parkrun.com/countries/

Try something new with old friends

Why not kill two birds with one very muddy stone – have fun with your friends AND try something new by taking part in a muddy obstacle course run! Bonus if you raise money for charity whilst doing it. Such events have rocketed in popularity during 2014, and look to be even bigger and better in 2015.

I absolutely HATE mud (and will be looking after my ‘new’ eyes), so am unlikely to do an obstacle race in 2015, but I have set myself the challenge of continuing with something new: crossfit. I’m now going to sessions offered by my Uni tri club (SUTRI) every Monday and hope to continue doing so in 2015.

Eat healthy & stay motivated

healthy heart

The problem with deciding to completely overhaul a lifestyle is that it can often be a case of biting off more than you can chew. So, when making dietary changes, start small. Set a few realistic goals – in the long run, the boost of actually sticking to them will up your confidence and self-esteem, helping you to make even better changes.

Gradually switching to a healthy eating style (not dieting!) such as clean eating can make a massive difference to your wellbeing without being overwhelming.

My sister and her fiance bought Stuart and I a Nutribullet blender for Christmas, so we’re hoping to drink lots of heathy smoothies in 2015… and I am planning to lose at least 15lbs, but more on that in another post!

Cut down on alcohol & fizzy drinks. Stay hydrated!

Nuun

Nuun

This challenge isn’t so hard for me. I very rarely drink alcohol and try not to drink coke too often. I drink water almost all of the time. Did you know that a big bottle of a juice-based drink can contain 300 calories – and those calories add up. Instead, think about switching to something like nuun, light and refreshing sugar-free hydration tabs which you simply drop into a bottle of water to get a great taste AND stock up on the essential electrolytes you lose during everyday activity. One nuun tube has enough tabs to make twelve 16oz (500ml) hydration drinks. It’s sturdy, waterproof and easily fits into a gym bag, bike jersey, purse, or pocket! Sorted.

So – there are some of my basic thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions… but as I mentioned, I have some very clear goals that I will be sharing in the next couple of weeks.

What are your goals, plans and dreams for 2015?

#TWIETing again and a training ride

3 Jun

It’s been a while since I #TWIETed (Tweet What I Eat Tuesday), but I thought that returning to it might help to get my eating back on track. Quite a few people have recommended using MyFitnessPal to me, but it’s refusing to log me in on my phone at the moment, and I don’t have enough free time to sort it out… maybe this weekend!

Twitter posts TWIET

Overall, it doesn’t look like my food intake was too bad today. I guess that the ShotBloks might have been unnecessary, but I found them in my bike bag when I was starting to feel peckish!

Do you use any apps to help track your food intake?

I went to Weight Watchers this evening. I’m no longer paying for it, but my membership doesn’t expire until towards the end of the month, so I figured that I might as well go along. The good news was that I haven’t put on any weight since before I went on holiday – the bad news is that I’m still fat! In my dreams, I’d like to lose 2 stone (28lbs) before doing Challenge Weymouth – in reality, 24lbs is the most I could hope to lose and 16lbs is an even more realistic goal. I just hope that I can maintain my motivation as I know that it’s a lot easier to exercise when I weigh less.

This evening, I had to do a ‘hilly loop session’. I needed to find a hill that would take 2-3 minutes to complete, but I went to the wrong location, and the hill I found took me 6 minutes to complete. It wasn’t very steep, but as I’m still really nervous about cycling downhill, it was quite good for me.

The really exciting part about tonight was that I got to ride my new ‘pink peacock’ SOAS trikit. I had hoped that I would receive it as a Christmas present, so I’m really happy that I now own. I’m delighted to report that it’s just as comfortable as my team kit 😀

IMG_3067 IMG_3069