Cajun Courgettes – 0 Smart Points

Mr FFF has never been the biggest fan of vegetables. Apparently, he only really likes them when they’ve got “some kind of flavour” – other than the flavour of the actual vegetables – so I’m always looking for ways to pep-up his plate! These came about as I tried to use up some leftover courgettes and find something to accompany the tacos we were eating to use up some leftover taco shells.

Servings: 2

Smart Points: 0 per serving

Time: 20-25 minutes

What you need:

  • a couple of courgettes
  • Cajun seasoning
  • spray oil

What to do:

  1. Trim the courgettes and halve lengthways. Slice thickly and put into a roasting tin.
  2. Spray the courgettes with oil and sprinkle them liberally with the Cajun seasoning. Give the tin a good shake to ensure the courgettes are evenly coated.
  3. Roast in a pre-heated over at 180C for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

Top Tip: Add more or less Cajun seasoning depending on how much you like the taste of “actual vegetables”!

Progress Report – 24.9.19

Weigh In Result: STS

As I wrote about last week, I knew that this week was going to present the biggest struggle so far in terms of sticking to my exercise goals because it was a busy week involving several changes to my normal weekly routine. I had a governor’s meeting on one of my normal ‘gym nights’; my PT is on holiday; my mum came to visit from Wales and we went to the cinema; I had to work on Saturday morning; we went out for a meal on Saturday evening; and I’d made arrangements to meet up with friends for coffee on Sunday.

Fortunately, I’d taken the time to think about how I was going to deal with each of these situations and so I was well-prepared for them when they rolled around.

Exercise – Due to the meeting, I’d changed my gym night to Friday. Not how I’d ideally have liked to start my weekend but it was the only other week-night option due to my mum visiting on the Wednesday and attending my WW meeting on Mondays. I also had to rearrange an essential appointment (getting my nails done!) which I’d booked for the Saturday morning before I knew I was going to have to work. The only time I could reschedule for was straight after work on Friday. This made me even less inclined to go the gym on Friday night. I asked myself “Would it really matter if I miss just one session?” I decided that no, missing one wouldn’t hurt, but I didn’t want to miss one. So I got myself to the gym, completed my program and went home feeling rather smug!

Cinema – In days gone by, a trip to the cinema would be an excuse to eat a ton of junk – a hot dog, ice-cream and popcorn would be pretty much standard. But I made the decision to rein myself in this time. I cooked an easy but tasty meal for us to eat before we went and I took some skinny popcorn with us to share. My mum also brought some chocolate to share which I hadn’t planned on. I took a smaller portion than I would have normally and savoured every mouthful.

Saturday working – When we have to work on a Saturday morning, we always get sausage or bacon butties and hash browns along with cakes and donuts to eat during the break time. In the past, I’ve also had a standard breakfast (usually a bagel or porridge) before leaving home too as I get up early and would be ravenous by the time we got to eating the butties. This time around, I considered not having a butty at all, but reasoned that this was the one positive aspect of having to work on a Saturday. So I decided to have some melon and quark before leaving home then to enjoy the butty and hash brown but avoid the cakes and doughnuts as I’m never usually hungry by the time they come out anyway – I only eat them ‘because they’re there’.

Dinner Out – We went out for dinner for the first time since getting back on track with my healthier eating goals (we used to eat out at least once a week but usually, more like two or three times). I decided that just because I was eating out didn’t mean I had to consume a day’s worth of calories in one meal. After all, it’s definitely not going to be the last time I ever eat out. Instead, I planned ahead and made some small changes to enable me to enjoy the evening but stay in control of my food choices.

Coffee with friends – I’d arranged to meet up with some friends for coffee on Sunday. We met at this fabulous book farm that has a café where they serve the most amazing array of cakes. I knew that with both of my friends would be ordering some and I’d most definitely feel I was missing out if I didn’t indulge in a slice. But I had a couple of strategies for working it into my healthier eating plan: as we were meeting at 2pm, I decided to class the piece of cake as my lunch. With this in mind, I had a 3-egg omelette for breakfast which I knew would keep me feeling full and planned a simple Sunday roast for my evening meal with only a small amount of potato and plenty of veg. You’ll be pleased to know, I’m sure, that my cake was delicious and I actually couldn’t finish it all! I may have only left one mouthful, but this is progress indeed!

I’ve got to be honest, I’ve found it difficult to stay focused this week, especially with completing my gym sessions, but I think this was simply down to the fact that it was a busy week with several schedule changes. Now I’ve gotten to the end of it though, I’m really pleased that I’ve managed to get all of my exercise sessions in as I’m not likely to get a week much busier than this one has been. I’ve shown myself that it is possible to juggle my schedule and prioritise my healthy lifestyle goals even when life gets busy.

What has been a great motivator this week is that two people commented on the fact that they can see I’ve lost weight which made me feel great and determined to stick with it.

Thanks for reading,

FFF

Make Small Changes

When embarking on a new ‘diet’ or healthy living program, lots of people steam in and try to change everything all in one go. They tell themselves that they are not going to eat any ‘unhealthy’ food, they’re going to stop eating out and are going to go to the gym 5 days a week.

I think that these views are often fuelled by TV shows such as the biggest loser where we watch in admiration as people spend hours each day with a personal trainer and eat only healthful, nutritionally balanced meals and the weight of course falls off. But is this realistic for those of us who are not being paid to be on such a show? We have to remember that these participants are basically being paid to lose weight – it’s their job to do so.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not being paid to live healthily and lose weight. I have to go out to work every day. And I haven’t got a team of chefs planning and preparing my meals.

When we try to change everything about our lifestyle in one go, it can often lead to overwhelm and can become unsustainable. So it’s often recommended that instead of overhauling every aspect of our lives, when trying to create new habits, we choose a few key areas in which to make small changes.

For me, this time around, that’s what I’ve been focusing on. I made the decision at the start of the summer to change just three things – I was going to start tracking my food, start exercising 3 times a week and stop eating out so often. Then I went on holiday and I decided that I was going to make a couple of small changes to how I would usually behave on holiday: I decided to continue going to the gym 3 times a week; to make the most of the healthy food options that were available and prepared for me rather than always choosing the most indulgent options; and to avoid drinking alcohol during the day.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve been sticking to these changes and have been seeing weight loss on the scales, reductions in my measurments and improvements in my fitness.

This weekend, I went out for dinner with friends for the first time since refocusing on my weightloss and health improvement goals. We went to a local steak house and again, I made some small changes to how I would normally approach a meal out: I decided I was only to going to have one glass of wine; we didn’t have starters although, if we were going to, I’d decided to order the salad option; I ordered the ‘lighter option’ version of steak accompaniments which saw my steak served with a delicious mixed salad instead of fries and fried onion loaf; then for dessert, I chose to order a peppermint tea with a mini-pud.

I left the restaurant feeling satisfied having enjoyed a delicous meal and great company, but I still felt in control. I also didn’t feel so stuffed that I spent the rest of the night feeling uncomfortable.

So, if you’re thinking about making big changes to your habits or lifestyle, maybe think again and just think about a couple of small changes you could make to get you started.

Have you decided to make any small changes to your habits or lifestyle? Let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for reading,

FFF

Keeping My Hands Out of the Biscuit Tin – Learning to Crochet

As I’ve written about previously, I’ve been keen to try new hobbies and develop new skills over the last couple of years. Having made some very simple sashes for costumes for a school play last summer and being reminded of how much I enjoyed sewing on the few occasions that we did it in Home Ec at school, I invested in a basic sewing machine and have been completing some simple projects to improve my skills (more to come on these in future posts).

But, having very limited time to fit crafting into my already busy weeks, I decided I wanted to try something that I could do in front of the TV in the evenings. So, inspired by the clever creations of a couple of friends, I’ve been learning to crochet.

I had a little one-to-one workshop with my extremely patient cousin who showed me how to get started (apparently this is called casting on) and how to do some basic stitches – chaining, single- and double-crochet. I kept practising the basics until I was able to cast on independently without looking online for a video to remind me how, but I still couldn’t count the stitches properly. It’s sometimes harder than you think to count to 10 which is a bit embarrassing to admit when you’re a teacher!

Then I had a friend visiting from the US who is also into crafts and wanted to re-learn to crochet. She’d found a local crochet and knitting company who sell everything you need to get you started that she wanted to visit and so off we went. With her encouragement, I bought a beginner’s Octopus Kit and gave it a go. I actually completed it using my ‘practise’ yarn rather than the stuff that came in the kit because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and wanted to make sure I could do it before I used the kit (yes, I am aware this is ever so slightly bonkers but hey-ho!).

I’m pleased to say that, with the help of my friend in teaching me to read the pattern, my mum who helped me to count stitches and several YouTube videos, I eventually completed the pattern. Now, there are some mistakes (a couple of the legs are back-to-front but that doesn’t make him any less of an octopus) but I’m really proud that I managed to complete it. I can even count the stitches fairly reliably now. Well, I’m getting there anyway.

The best thing was though, it’s definitely not something that you can do whilst eating biscuits and chocolates. Although Mr FFF says the best thing about it is that he doesn’t have to spend the evening listening to the whirring of my sewing machine!

I’m looking forward to completing my next octopus using the actual yarn from the kit – if I ever get a minute to sit down and start it!

Do you crochet? What are your top tips for a beginner? Let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for reading,

FFF

Drink of the Week: Marrakech Mint Tea – 0 Smart Points

As I’ve said before, I’m a BIG fan of tea. I’ve got a cupboard full of the stuff; a bit like shoes and handbags, I firmly believe you can never have too many varieties.

This variety is a green tea with peppermint from Whittard.

Inspired by the tea served in the souks of the Moroccan medina, we’ve blended our smoky Gunpowder Green with pure peppermint leaves for a refreshingly nuanced infusion. We’ve even added a sprinkling of blue cornflower petals for a British touch – why not try it the traditional way, mixed with honey or sugar?

https://www.whittard.co.uk/tea/tea-type/green-tea/marrakech-mint-loose-tea-MSTR314633.html

It was a thoughtful present from my amazing cousin who is also a tea lover (she’s a bit of an English breakfast purist, but does enjoy a Biscuit Brew). I love the Moroccan tiled print on the tin and the little flecks of blue cornflower petals in the tea itself.

Being a green tea, you only want to brew it for a couple of minutes otherwise it will taste bitter. And being a loose-leaf tea, you’ll need a teapot and strainer or an infuser but it’s worth the effort: you’ll be rewarded with a slightly sweet, refreshing tea with a hint of smokiness. Perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up when you want something without the heaviness of ‘standard’ tea or coffee.  

Move More – Post Run Yoga

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Gesina Kunkel

I really enjoy yoga. It’s got so many great advantages: improving strength and flexibility, stretching out aching muscles and calming busy minds.

If, like me, you’re doing the C25K program or any kind of running, you could do worse that trying this post-run yoga session from Adriene Mishler. Adriene is a great instructor and has a load of fantastic, free yoga workouts on her YouTube channel. This was is great for stretching out your heavy, achey legs after a run leaving them fresh for your next one.

Thanks for reading,

FFF

*I am not a doctor. Please check with your doctor or other suitably qualified healthcare professional before beginning any exercise program.