2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Tag: nutrition

Nutrition and much more

The vote

This months vote was:
Option 1
How nutrition helps mental and physical recovery.

Option 2
Food schedules and easy trips to the supermarket.

The votes have been counted and it is 50/50 with regards to results. This means I will do two blogs in one. I think they tie in nicely with one another as well so here we go.

Nutrition helping mental and physical recovery

Nutrition can play a big part in mental and physical recovery. I admit it is sometimes easier to grab the take out menu when you are sick than to heat some vegetable soup. I have done it in the past. The downside to a take out is that it is usually pizza, fish and chips, Indian or Chinese. Lots of fats and sugar in them with very little nutritional value. I mean yes they make us feel better. They are quick and easy too. But at the end of the day your body when sick needs nutrients. Proteins to help the muscles, vitamins and minerals to help fight infections, sustenance to help fight whatever you are fighting and the list goes on. So unfortunately, as much as we want those tasty things to make us feel better we also need to make sure we are getting the right nutritional value as well.

Snacks

If you are struggling to eat a big meal or your appetite has done a disappearing act then keep it simple. A slice of wholemeal toast with honey, a piece of fruit or fruit juice (150ml), little porridge pot, banana on those wholemeal crackers or a handful of nuts, seeds and berries.

Water

Remember also to keep your water intake up. The water flushes out the toxins our body has and helps our digestive transit.

Ask a family member or neighbour

If you are really struggling then see if a family member, friend or neighbour would mind making you a little something. A healthy delivered meal for example. Unfortunately in these times this is few and far between but I like to live in hope. If you don’t ask then you don’t get I find. Alternatively get a supermarket to deliver healthy salads, soups and so on.

Hot chocolate to the rescue!

I can remember when I had my appendix out and my appetite had returned Rosie came to see me one day. She told me to walk with her to the end of the ward. Slow and steady we went. Rosie kept saying it would be worth it. I kept wondering how far it was. She had found the best cure. Hot chocolate, biscuits and fruit. Yum! If you needed an incentive to get out of bed then there was one right there. I had the best of both worlds. I had sugar to get my strength back up and I had vitamins and minerals in the fruit which helped my body recover. Once we had gone home it was soup and salad all the way.

Coughs and colds

Seeing as this is very seasonal I thought I would include it. It is rare that I take medicines during a cough or cold spell. I tend to go for the more natural items. Orange juice and oranges being a big one as they are full of vitamin C. The same goes for smoothies full of vegetable and the odd fruit for taste. Again full of vitamins and minerals. The drink of ginger, lemon, honey and hot water can work wonders for a cough and sore throat. Usually I make a big batch at the beginning of the cold and it sees me straight through. I can also recommend turmeric. I add a dash to the smoothie or drink and hey presto I have an anti-inflammatory.

Try it!

Next time you are sick or recovering from something try the above (with a chocolate bar now and then). You may find it helps you through.

Food schedules

Ah, the food schedule! That little white board on the wall which is going to tell me what I am eating. If it needs to be taken out of the freezer or needs preparation. The 2 Spud house hold does not seem to function incredibly well without that white board.

NB: Other writing materials can be used, for example, the good old pen and paper.

How to write a food schedule?

It is pretty easy to write one which is the good news. It could look something like this:
Dinners:
Monday
– Scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with avocado and tomato
Tuesday – Dinner with friends/local restaurant
Wednesday – Spaghetti bolognaise from freezer (remember to take out in the morning)

Lunches:
Soup (remember to buy from supermarket), spaghetti bolognaise (from Wednesday), wholemeal sandwich.

And then you carry on for the rest of the week.

For the next week you take the past week, see what you had and then add in some different meals.

It is amazing once it is all written down how much it makes sense, you eat better options and you don’t grab that take out menu.

The shopping list

The best bit from a written down food schedule is you can make your shopping list. If you have a written list for when you enter that big building full of aisles you then know exactly what aisles you need to visit. It has been a long time since I have been down a biscuit, cake or crisp aisle. I don’t need to get anything from those aisles so I just don’t visit them. I go with my list, tick off once I have got them, circle the item if I cannot find it or it is out of stock and then go to pay.

The supermarket zapper thingy!

I find this is quite a useful tool for shopping. You get your zapper at the entrance to most big supermarkets. You go around and zap your products to put straight into your bag and then you go to pay. I find it useful if I am doing a big shop so I don’t up spending loads of money on things I do not need. If I can see the price in front of me totalling up as I go I know exactly what to expect at the checkout.

Online supermarket shopping

Shopping from the comfort of your own couch. What more could you want?! The best bit about this is the supermarket will remember what you have bought so next time all you need to do is check and confirm. You quite often get a two hour window so you can take your time as well. You can also check the kitchen cabinets to see if you do really need mayonnaise and there aren’t five bottles in the cupboard already.

Shopping on your own or with a buddy?

A good question. If I need a big shop then I tend to like to do it on my own. Rosie tends to muck up my filing system and then sneaks things into the trolley which are not on the list. If I am in the mood for a wander and chat when shopping then I take someone with me. On these trips I take time going up and down all of the aisles. This is especially exciting at this time of year. I get to see if I have missed anything in my quick trips. Lets just say these trips tend to happen once in a while and not every week.

Any questions?

Feel free to drop 2 Spuds a line with any questions you have from this blog. We will try our best to answer them.

-Helen

The road to recovery

Facebook poll

A couple of weeks ago we asked on Facebook what blog you would like to see. The options were mental health conditions, signs and symptoms or how can I help myself on the road to recovery. It was a close call between the two options but with 57% it is the road to recovery. Rosita will take you through her recovery and Helen will take you through hers in Wednesday’s blog.

A road walked

This is a road I walk every day, some days more than others. It has become a way of life, making sustainable and healthy changes. I have come a long way from completely losing the plot having drunk Helen’s glass of juice. You know you’re in a bit of a mess when something so trivial tips you over the edge. It certainly put things into perspective for us. The next day we went to the doctor who signed me off for 2 weeks. 5 months later I resigned from work, having not been back to work. I spent the first few weeks/months crying and not doing a lot. Pretty much everything stressed me out. Most of this time is a bit of a blur. We made a few changes which helped enormously and that is why I am in such a good place today. 

Not going to work

It soon became obvious that my job was the main reason for me no longer functioning. I probably knew that before but could not see a way out of the situation. I loved the job itself, and the good days were fab. But working in the public sector, for a service with over 50,000 officers and staff, became difficult. There were a lot of changes made by people having to justify their existence at work, none for the best in my opinion. There never is a need to reinvent the wheel. I love helping people, and I’m damn good at it too. It got to a point where I could no longer do that. This is all very clear to me now, but it has taken a while to realise that, with a lot of conversations with the professionals and Helen. In the end, the job I loved broke me. Simple as that. 

Leaving London

We had been talking about leaving London and took action. This resulted in us finding a lovely flat in Scotland which also has a little garden. Having outdoor space means the world to me. I can make coffee and sit outside in the sun. You might think this is nothing, but to me it is what keeps me sane. It involves coffee, me-time, fresh air and hopefully sun too. All of this is pretty essential. 

Medication

Being prescribed medication was a massive thing. I only started with the pills after a couple of months, when I realised that I was not getting any better. They have made a huge difference, and I was able to get more from the counselling as well as my brain started to calm down. Constantly crying is hard and tiring.

Counselling 

Counselling gave me a lot of advice and tips, which was essential to my recovery. I have high standards for myself, our home, nutrition and exercise, to name a few. It became apparent that I could not keep this up. So the counsellor suggested to ask myself this: “if I don’t do this particular thing now, is anyone gonna die?”. The answer is simple. This helped me to lower my standards, giving me more time for me. This was when I was really struggling to do anything.

Me-time

I started taking time for me. This involves me doing things I love. To name a few:

  • Listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Taking photos
  • Going for walks
  • Sit and drink coffee
  • Being outside in the sun

These are just a few things that give me a buzz. All of which, apart from drinking coffee, I had stopped doing because I was stressing too much to get chores done. I can now take half a day or a few hours or even a whole day and do nothing. Nothing to me involves me-time. We now have a saying in our house that it’s time for me-time, and this overrides all chores. You should try it. You need to look after yourself. 

Helen

I know not everyone has partner in these circumstances, and I do not know what would have happened had I not had Helen by my side. She’s been, and still is, my rock. Words can’t emphasise enough how I feel. So I will just say this: thank you buddy.

-Rosita

First challenge is complete

Well the 1000 minute a week exercise challenge is now complete for July. For proof please see the above photo. It was an interesting challenge to say the least. It was hard but rewarding at the same time. Hard because it involved a lot of time from my schedule. Sunday mornings were where I would usually lie in, watch films, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and generally relax. But the last few Sundays I have been in the gym doing high intensity classes, gym training and walking home afterwards. It was rewarding though as I feel I am stronger; my cardio has improved greatly, and I have learnt some new exercises. I can certainly confirm that my muscles are now crying for attention and luckily, we have a sports massage booked for this coming Monday.

Will I continue the 1000 minutes?

That is a very good question. Although it did take up a lot of time, I will continue with the 1000 minutes a week target. However, what I will not do is be too hard on myself. If I want a Sunday morning off, then I will take it. Simple as that. After last week blog I still have 15 kg to lose so the more exercise the better really.

The secret to diet and exercise

Here is the secret to diet and exercise. It isn’t a quick fix. You can crash diet of course and the weight will come off very quickly. However, as soon as you start eating a normal diet the weight will creep on again. You also have the yo-yo affect where you crash diet, eat normally, crash diet, eat normally and keep repeating until you break the cycle. Again, with exercise, you can exercise for two months solidly and gain results. But if you then for the next two months sit on the couch watching television you will lose the benefits you have gained in the first place. It really is that simple. Which leads me to the next secret in diet and exercise.

A lifestyle change

It is a lifestyle change. Diet and exercise techniques are put in place so that 10, 20, 30 years down the line you are still strong, healthy with a good exercise regime and well-balanced diet. Now don’t panic. Although it is a lifestyle change it does include treat days. We have Saturday evening as ours. This means we can have an ice cream bar, dessert, one of those fancy corner yogurt things or equivalent. All it means is we have a specific day rather than eating ice cream every day of the week. As the saying goes, everything in moderation and you will be fine. It also means that you value whatever your treat is (and pick wisely at the supermarket).

Our progress

We are to have a first weigh in, in a couple of days’ time. We have chosen to weigh ourselves in at the end of every month only. Weighing ourselves in at the end of every week may take away from what we are trying to achieve. For example, one week you are down 3 pounds, the next you are up 2 pounds and the next you are down 4 pounds. It gets too complicated in my opinion. Weighing in once a month gives you a truer picture I find. We are over the first week where our bodies were craving bad foods, we were grumpy from lack of food and generally not pleasant to be around.

And here is the good news

However, (and here is the good news) we have settled down, we have move energy, we look forward to our fruit snacks and we generally are starting to feel better. Our house is full of fruit, veg and health snacks, we spent more time preparing food and we are getting a lot of exercise. Take it one step at a time and see what you can achieve. Please see our earlier blog on lifestyle exercise.

Another secret

If you want your goal badly enough you will put in the hard work. That’s it.

-Helen

An even bigger challenge

Back to that BMI thing

I am going to go back to this BMI thing one more time. I am sure you are all getting bored of me going on about it, but I have been for good reason. The BMI is part of the criteria for fertility and IVF treatment. Last week we went for our first appointment. Surprise, surprise we met all the other criteria except for the BMI one. And it is as plain and simple as this. If you do not meet the crazy BMI number, the NHS can’t help you. End of story. I find it a bit harsh that it all comes down to just this number and that your activity levels and exercise regime is not taken into consideration but there you have it. It frustrates me no end but that is the bottom line and to get into the service we need to meet the criteria.

My (mini) challenge so far

In my last blog I mentioned that I was having a lot of things to do last week and I may not be able to get all my minutes in. I am pleased to say that I managed to get just over the thousand minutes in the last couple of days which makes it 3 weeks with over a thousand minutes per week. I have found taking a book into the gym then setting either the bike, arc trainer or treadmill to random hills and reading is a great way to pass the time. I even tried two high intensity classes this week. One was Grit Cardio and the other Body Attack. Now Grit Cardio is a hard class. I knew all the exercises of the class but seemed to lose track between brain and legs. I am glad I was standing at the back of the class where I could look like an idiot. However, what I have done is book myself in with one of the Grit instructors so they can go over with me how the class is choreographed. I am hoping after this I may get on a little better in the class.  

Anyway, I have just over 1 week to go before this month’s challenge ends. However, I have an even bigger challenge awaiting me.

An even bigger challenge begins

As I have said we are beginning to go through the tests for fertility treatment and at present my BMI is too high to be accepted into the service. After the appointment I came home and did all the calculations to make us eligible. To put it simply I must lose 18 kilograms. I have currently lost between 2 and 3 and have another 15 to go. It is a lot. It is an awful lot.

What we changed: exercise

With regards to exercise I think 1000 minutes a week is pretty good going so I will not be changing much here. I will keep going and add in a couple of high intensity classes. The beauty of a high intensity class is that I will burn calories long after the class has finished. Which in turn helps a lot with weight loss. I will keep as active as I can be and make sure I have a physio on standby for those worn out muscles.

What we changed: food

Now this is where the biggest change is going to come in. Diet wise mine isn’t too bad. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol. I don’t eat a lot of chocolate, crisps, biscuits and the like. I don’t eat a lot of take-out and microwave dinners either. Looking at my diet it has more to do with portion sizes than anything else, I think.

The 1940’s to 2019 plate size

Now you may think this is a bit weird but stick with me as I explain. From the 1940s to today portions have become (in my opinion) out of control. According to Google the plate size in 1940 was about 9-inches, and today, it is 12-inches. That is a 3-inch difference or about the size of your credit card. Which seems crazy! So the long and the short of that is that my portion sizes are going to come down dramatically.

Fruit

As well as my 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) I am trying to eat more fruit as well. I would say I was the occasional fruit addict. Some weeks I would eat lots and some weeks not so much. Now I am going to have to eat lots as my snack. I am trying to eat the rainbow (and no I don’t mean the sweet Skittles) but the fruit and vegetable rainbow. Basically, lots of colours and variety. It also doesn’t matter what form it comes in either. I find fresh a better option but that doesn’t mean other varieties are excluded, for example, tinned.

Water

I am also drinking a lot of water. Now water and I have a history. I used to drink a lot of squash and fizzy drinks but after meeting Rosie she made me get more involved with this water stuff. After several months and a couple of years I now willingly drink the stuff but not a lot of it. I have a water bottle and have been challenging myself to drink them throughout the day.

Stay tuned

I am aware that I have set myself an almighty challenge, but I am going to give it my all. I am sure there will be days where I want to sit on the couch and watch television with a chocolate bar. On the flip side I am sure there will be days when I exercise too much and my fruit intake has excelled. So as I say, stay tuned to see how I get on throughout the next few months.

-Helen

Marketing bit (2 Spuds doesn’t do it often but it fits in nicely here)

If anyone has just read that and wishes their nutrition checked this is something I can do as a personal trainer. I can take your food/drink intake (and I want to see the good, the bad, and the ugly) analyse it and recommend changes for you. Just get in touch.

Body Image

It is a hot topic at the minute with this being Mental Health Awareness Week. The Mental Health Foundation only yesterday announced that it had done a piece of research on it. According to the report 4,500 UK adults were asked, and about a third of them were anxious about their body image. Another 1 in 8 were experiencing suicidal thoughts about it. (BBC News website)

The very thought of the words body image can make someone jump out of their skin. It will have people running to the mirror and asking why me? Someone may read this blog and think I have tried every diet but why am I still big or why can’t I put muscle on or I wish I could lose that baby weight and so on. Here’s the secret: there is no magic formula. The truth is your body belongs to you. You oversee it. It is unique. 

Your body can tell a story

It is very true; your body can tell a story. It is the life of you. So, the story of me is as follows. I have a small scar across the bridge of my nose from where I decided to nosedive into a table at the age of 2.  I also have 3 keyhole scars on my abdomen from 18 months ago where a cyst on my ovary bust, caused a right issue and had me in emergency surgery to sort it out.  I have facial tics which depending on my stress levels can be very visible. My left hand holds two rings, my engagement ring and my wedding ring. I recently cut my hair really short and got myself an ear piercing.  My toes are webbed (no I still can’t swim well), I have fat around my belly which due to a medical condition makes it hard to shift but I keep trying. I wear glasses, I had teeth braces as a kid and for a female I am taller than average. I work hard at the gym doing my own workouts so I stay strong. I also love nothing more than running around in jeans and a t-shirt. There you go, a small version of my story.

The other side of the story

People have mocked me in the past, bullied me, people have said why can’t I lose weight, why were my teeth like a bunny’s and why couldn’t I dress more feminine. Some of those words hurt, I had to listen while people said these things but did I pay attention? The short answer is no. It has taken me a while to realise that I am who I am. Some people will like me, and some will not. However, at the end of the day I cannot please everyone with the way my body looks. The only person who needs to be happy with it is me and I am more than happy with my body image. 

The media

I personally think the media has a lot to answer for. As a personal trainer I often get a person coming to me for their consultation, showing me pictures of someone on Instagram or other social media. It comes with those famous words; I want to look like this. Now bringing in a picture gives me a good idea of how you would like to look and what exercises to give you to get you there. However, most people want the easy fix. Now correct me if I am wrong but that message is usually not one that social media portrays. People want that internet body which will happen overnight whilst still being able to eat fast food and binge-watching telly. I have to disappoint these people and say that it could take up to a year to get that way. What I offer is good nutrition, at least 3 days in the gym, scaling down the fast food, limiting the alcohol and a lot of hard work. After the initial shock wears off that it will take a lot longer they sigh and say I will try it. The people who have stayed with me as a trainer have lost weight, toned their muscles, changed their diet to a healthier version and so on. But here is my point: it is a lifestyle change rather than a quick fix. And at the end of the day they are much happier. 

You

So, here is the bottom line in my opinion. If you are happy with your body image don’t let anyone take that away from you. Show off your scars proudly and let them tell their story. If you are not happy with your body image, then take a small step today into making a lifestyle change and keep going. Once you catch the nutrition and exercise bug I can guarantee you will find your happy somewhere along the way.

-Helen

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