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Archives: The Healthening

The Healthening – 24/01/12

Happy Chinese New Year for yesterday!

I tried to make this an excuse for getting a Chinese takeaway, but the better half saw through it. We did however enjoy a nommy roasty chicken and gravy… staying just barely within calorific contrains.


So whats the news?

The quest continues unimpeded. No news is frankly good news in this case- I haven’t broken my diet or my self, so far.

I haven’t joined a gym yet for the reasons I’ve already given. The principle one is time- between work and writing, I don’t have a great deal. I have been getting on okay with some mild working out at home and plenty of walking. I haven’t put this into a formal routine yet, which no doubt I should to make me stick to it, but it’s early days. I do a little Wii-ing when I use it to weigh myself.

Diet-wise I’m quite surprised at myself. I have found it relatively easy to forego my usual crisps and coke. Granted, I’m not very satisfied by the alternatives. I’m also often hungry at the end of the day.

Having said that, these are things that can be ignored and overcome. The dissatisfaction is a symptom of breaking habit- once I get used to being without, it will be better. Probably.

Less easy- deleting sugar from my tea. I’m not a massive tea drinker but find it immensly refreshing when I’m tired and first thing in the morning. I need the heat too, when I’m typing with stiff little fingers (hoho) at work.

Tea without sugar = mm a lovely cuppa, ugh, bleh, ptooi, dissapointment in liquid form. Again, hoping this will change once I get used to the idea.


I have another tidbit from the might BHF grimoire of weight loss; a checklist of behaviors that help one to lose weight. Let’s see if I do any of them:

– Do nothing else while eating (Don’t waste the calories – taste and enjoy them).

Fail. I almost always watch tv while eating. Admittedly, I bow to BHF’s wisdom on this one. It wouldn’t hurt to savour my diminished meals more.

– Eat at regular times.

Fail. My work patterns vary too much.

– Eat sitting down.

Win. What? How else?!

– Pause during meals and put down your knife and fork between mouthfuls.

Win. I actually do this, in a desperate bid to make it last longer.

– Aim to be the last to finish.

Fail. This one made me chuckle! I see the notion- make the food last longer by being the last to finish. Only problem is, what do you do if both of you are trying to be the last? I see myself frozen mid-chew in a battle of wills.

– Shop on a full stomach.

Fail. I get it, but often go hungry and then want to put everything I see into the trolley. Generally I manage to resist.

– Write a shopping list and stick to it.

Fail. Too much effort. List in brain.

– Keep healthy snacks to hand.

Fail. My fruit bags are in the fridge where they can’t be corroded by air and heat. Maybe I need an apple on my desk.

– Clean your teeth after a meal or when you get the urge to overeat.

Fail. I have never tried this. Brushing teeth is also effort. Taste of toothpaste not good. I guess that’s the point.

– Serve your meal straight onto a plate (without serving dishes).

Win. I already do this. I’m not Lord Allen of Allen Hall.

– Wait at least five minutes after finishing your meal before deciding whether to have second helpings.

Win. For starters, I generally just have one big helping. Also I’m still watching the telly, innit.

– Practise refusing offers to overeat. Learn to say ‘No, thank you’, politely but firmly and convincingly.

Win. I’m always refusing food from people. Don’t know where it’s been. Remember to be firm and convincing! NO THANK YOU I’M SICKENED BY YOUR OFFER, SATAN.

– Clear away any leftovers quickly after the meal.

Win. They’re in my stomach.


The weigh-in.

So far, so good!

Weight at week four: 15 stone, 5 pounds

A loss of 3 pounds! Making a total of 9!

Naturally, weight fluctuates all the time, even over the course of the day. Still, going down is preferable to up!

The Healthening – 13/01/12

Evening all! Fancy another glimpse into the hallowed British Health Foundation weight loss tome?

“The best thing about the front of the booklet is the BHF logo. You immediately know it’s going to be sensible.”

– 39 year old overweight woman

Yes, sensible, like Vinnie Jones teaching CPR to the tune of Staying Alive. Thanks, overweight woman. Also, you need a better superhero name.


Welcome to the second week of my personal battle against weight. I doubt that these updates will be weekly in future, but I thought I should say how things are going so far.

I admit to a certain level of laziness- I’m a casual man, a laid back guy. That’s probably the main cause of my overweight status and lack of fitness. That and the noms. That in mind, it will be of no surprise that I haven’t set up any kind of training regimen yet.

As I said, I intend to sort out diet first and that won’t be a sudden shift. I intend to stay true to myself, which means maintaining a certain sedentary style in my daily life. I want other lazy gits to take something away from my efforts. See how the words ‘take away’ slip in unbidden.

Point is, I haven’t joined any gyms yet. I will be speaking to a pal of mine about some vague fitness training, but so far walking has been my new friend. Once I’ve lost some weight, I can look at bigger and better things.

What I have been doing is keeping a food diary. I’ve tried to keep this in line with the BHF grimoire but that has been a little difficult. Honestly, I’ve mostly just tried to watch my calorie limit, with the help of my nifty app, myfitnesspal.

My heart sank when I saw how little emphasis is placed on meat. I love meat. I could eat meat and meat alone. I knew this day would come, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Fruit and veg are the new kids on the block, or in this case, the plate. Bleh, ack, and poop.

BHF and my nurse man recommended eating between 1,500 and 1,800 calories per day. I’ve gone with 1,410 based on the calculations of my app. I know I risk having an angry Vinnie Jones banging on the door, but it worked out a decent rate of loss and at the moment I don’t get a great deal of exercise, what with working at home on a chair. BHF breaks it down into 8 or more portions of fruityveg, 8 portions of bread-like, 2 portions of dairy, 3 portions of meaty protein, 3 portions of spread fat butter things and up to 200 kcal of high fat or high sugar foods and alcohol.

Beesus, that’s a lot to remember. Well, I drink rarely, in hedonistic bursts, so that won’t be an issue for a while. As for the others, the BHF portion is not the amount it sounds like. Usually it means a small amount that can be measured by eye or hand (such as one handful of small fruits like grapes). So the high numbers of portions actually mean several small portions, which allows you to mix things up and measure them without weighing everything you eat and writing down the calories.

What did I do? Weighed everything I ate and counted the calories. I’m strange like that. What I might do is look more closely at BHF’s nice and easy method once I get bored of all the maths.

So, here’s a typical day in my food diary:



Crownfield’s Choco Rice. Uhoh! This isn’t healthy food. I’m so crap! Thing is, I hate wasting food, so I’m eating a few things like this to get rid of them before buying more. Milk on top.

BHF portion-o-meter: 2 portions of bread-like (6 tablespoons of cereal!), 1 portion of milk.

Calorie-o-meter: 158



Mission Deli garlic wrap of yumminess! Normally two of these, just had one. Just one! No wonder I feel like gnawing the skin off my arm. 20 grams of medium cheddar. 4 slices of ham from generic ASDA reformed ham (ham that used to be really bad but has seen the error of its ways). Oh, and 16 pringles- again, for the purpose of getting rid of the damn things.

BHF portion-o-meter: 1 portion of bread-like (wraps weren’t on there, used pitta as guide), 1 portion of dairy, 1 portion of meat, 75 kcals of crisp (half of my allotted high fat stuff).

Calorie-o-meter: 490



Slightly more diet-like here. Salmon. I love salmon, but it comes in such frustratingly small amounts! Mouth sized! About as stomach-filling as a sudden gust of wind. Things look up with the addition of Philadelphia (not quite cheese) and some potato wedges (not quite chips). Things look down again with the addition of baby carrots and peas. I can eat them if I mulch them into the other foodstuffs.

BHF portion-o-meter: 3 portions of bread-like (No wedges or chips on there, which admittedly makes sense, so I equated it to ‘six egg-sized potatoes’), 1 portion of meat (fish, white, cooked), 4 portions of veg (12 heaped tablespoons, though you try measuring carrots by the tablespoonful), 1 portion of dairy (low fat spread gubbins, I actually had half a portion- 30g instead of 80).

Calorie-o-meter: 409



Drinks, which were three cups of tea and some diluted blackcurrant nonsense. Couldn’t be bothered to work out how much milk I used and whether it constituted a BHF portion. Still can’t. No coke! ASDA apple and grape baggy. Quite nice actually. There, I said it. No bananas yet. Don’t trust ‘em.

BHF portion-o-meter: 1 portion of fruit, 48 kcals of sugar (three teaspoons).

Calorie-o-meter: 200


Therefore, in total, I done eaten this:

BHF: 5 out of 8 portions of fruityveg (fail, but that was expected!)

6 of my 8 portion limit of bread-like (win)

3 of my 2 portions of dairy (one was a half portion but I didn’t count milk in tea- fail)

2 of my 3 portions of meaty protein (win, but at what cost?)

0 of my 3 portions of spread fat butter things (because I had no toast today – win)

123 of my 200 kcal limit of high fat crap (win!)

Calories: 1,257 out of 1, 410 (winny winnerson)


Well, most days went more or less like this. Frankly, the BHF method seems easier, but it means a fair bit of meal planning and learning to use by habit. Clearly I failed on some counts where I could have perhaps had buttery toast for breakfast instead of milky cereal and been fine. I will be putting it aside for now but trying to take on board the proportions it proposes in its portions. She sells sea shells… anyway, calorie-wise I did fine. So far I haven’t breached my limit once.

On the other hand, I’ve been hungry all the damn time, never quite satisfied by meals. I hate it, but really can’t complain. I’ve had it too good for too long.

Also, I will soon be replacing these things with their low fat equivalents- particularly cheese and wraps. Weight Watchers do small wraps with a suspiciously low 98 cals! Once this is achieved, I can have a little more to eat. Can I also manage 5 fruit and veg a day? Unlikely!


The weigh-in.

Despite it being me, I have good news!

Weight at week two: 15 stone, 8 pounds (218 pounds)

A loss of 6 pounds!

Not counting flesh gnawed from arm.


The Healthening – 05/01/12

Afternoon all. Sherlock is back! Excellent stuff. Ending of first episode daft and unlikely. But, glad its back.


I begin week one of my lifestyle change with trepidation. I found an old record of my weight from ’07 and it was 14 stone and 7 pounds… so I’ve gained one and a half stone since university.

I think that happens to a lot of students- the drinkyhol, the cheap food, yada yada. Now it’s time to turn the trend around. Being obese, frankly, is rubbish. I also hate the word and intend to use it as little as possible, except when I need to remind myself how important this is.

There is a world between ‘fat’ and ‘obese’. The former sounds more like a degree of weight- a bit fat, fairly fat, very fat. The latter is more like a situation. Obese sounds medical. Obese is a tombstone. There has never been a cadaver in the morgue with merely ‘fat’ written on the toe tag.

So, seeking a starting point, I went to the local health centre. This is not a favourite activity- especially when I’m not actually ill. Sitting in the waiting room surrounded by the pox-ridden is no fun at all. Covering as many orifices as decorum would allow, I went to see the nurse.

Foxy nurse? Oh no. She was a he and he was almost the same size as me. Okay, no worries- I rarely practise what I preach. He did give me some info and a most handy booklet from the kind folks at British Heart Foundation, entitled ‘So you want to lose weight… for good’ (as opposed to… for evil).

The booklet is my friend, it tells me what to do and how to think and where to bury them. I will divulge gems from the booklet as and when I feel like it, or when I think it isn’t watching me. Here’s one: ‘Know when you’re hungry (in your stomach)’. Did that just blow your mind, or what?

Sillyness aside, the booklet does have a lot to say; info on fad diets (humbug) and meal ideas which will no doubt be useful. It also breaks down all the foods of the world into colour coded categories and portions. I can have 8 portions of starchy food- a portion being smaller than you might imagine (for example, 3 tablespoons of cereal is one). Small units make the whole thing a bit more modular- you can have more than one portion in a meal. Well, this coming week I will try to adhere to the BHF plan.

Nursey also described, in terms I have forgotten already, the steady release of insulin in the human body throughout the day. Insulin is released in intervals, so having meals at set times (including the all-important breakfast that I usually dodge) is important, as it makes the most of the insulin and achieves an efficient conversion of food to energy. Already I feel my mind slipping towards the simplicity of not caring, but I will and must try to make this work.

He recommended keeping a food diary. To this end I have employed the services of an app and website called ‘myfitnesspal’. So far I would recommend this app heartily- it allows you to enter your height and weight to get an idea of your daily allowance of calories. Then you add the foods you eat, in a diary style, by a little search function or even by scanning the barcode with your phone’s camera. Uh-may-zing. That has kept me busy for a while, entering every last thing I eat.

Practically speaking, that’s the extent of my regime so far. At first I will be avoiding an exercise program and strict dieting and instead just focus on what I currently eat and what needs to change. I have been eating pretty badly to be honest. I eat perhaps two takeaways a week; pizzas, burgers, but mostly chicken (KFC if I feel really deviant). I eat vegetables only when my girlfriend makes me (something like peas, one or two days a week) and fruit never enters the equation. I don’t mind mushrooms- they’re meaty and go nicely on a pizza. I dislike the flavour of most veg and fruit intensely and I do wonder if this is a learned habit that can be broken.

To add some background to my limited diet- a few years ago I didn’t even eat mushrooms. I touched no eggs or pasta for years. I drank Coca-Cola in its various forms every day, as a preference to water. These things changed gradually as I spent more time with my girlfriend. Now is the time for further change. Even if I hate it. Today- first day in years without a glass of coke. Strange and very necessary.

Obviously, takeaways have to go. Certainly no more than one a week. The gist is that the same meal cooked at home will be much better for you than the same from a takeaway. Some part of me is saddened to turn my back on this delightful and satisfying service- who can ignore the sheer ease of buying cooked food rather than messing about with ingredients and washing up. One hopes to save some money from having less takeaways, but even healthy food doesn’t exactly grow on trees (I know, how droll).

Speaking of which, I repeatedly come into contact with the advice of eating five fruit and/or vegetables a day. Now, I have an issue with this one. I can never make five. It’s meant to be easy, but I dislike most forms of vegetable and fruit to the point that I can’t eat them. Apples I can handle; they do what they say on the tin, they taste nice, they’re cheap. Oranges are okay, but breaking into them is a lot of effort for a man of idle tendencies. I believe there are some other fruits, but I’m not sure what they are called or what they do. I see them on television and in the market, but they come in funny shapes. Bananas? I’m not going to eat any fruit that looks so passive-aggressive.

I have some kind of apple and grape bag thing from the supermarket to stand in for regular snackage. This is a sad day. Where my chemicals at?


The Bretatron-how many calories are burned when procrastinating?