My pandemic epiphany

                                              My Mediterranean Cous Cous (recipe below) 

The period of lockdown was an epiphany for "me". Ridiculously, and selfishly in hindsight, I wish it could be an annual event ( looks like it might well be ). For me lockdown was like a buddhist retreat, a perfect chance to desocialize without having to offer excuses, while at the same time offering a chance for contemplation and re focussing oneself. One was able to stop and consider  ways of changing how one lives ones life. A period of revelation, realization, revitalisation. Having fed and indulged on solitude and silence for six months or more, I am now pretending to be a normal person again. What had become strange entities, like welcoming guests, back into our house, if they were able to come that is, and applying myself to learning all over again how to have a proper conversation. In this "me first" world it was such a joy to have had no football on the television for at least a few months, clogging up the schedules, having ones ears bent with the boredom of incessant post mortems on goals and matches. Honestly its the Victor Meldrew in me. If I had to be subjected to any more action replays.....
Now to get to the point, in my case, lockdown was a blessing in disguise. The week before lockdown I had a routine checkup with my doctor and when he weighed me he informed me that I was unknowingly overweight (well I was aware that I was looking a little like a badly morphed version of a pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of Harpers). He gave me six months to lose 10kilos. I took this on board and in my head rounded the figure up and the task before me would then be 11 Kilos. His parting words as I walked out of the surgery remained in my head. You should adopt the Mediterranean diet and eat more vegetables.It was like telling me I should bring swallows to Portugal. I already included the Mediterranean principles in my diet and I do love my vegetables, Anna Jones.This was going to help but wasn´t the crux of the matter. When you´ve gone up an apron size its time to do something about it.
So, I needed to lose weight. But I also wanted to eat real food. That butter and marmaladen toast for breakfast, bacon buttie for lunch and slice of cake mid-afternoon just weren´t cutting it. I needed to eat whole foods that would be satisfying, delicious, and would also support my weight loss challenge. To add insult to injury every morning when I switched my phone on, I was alerted to how to use onion juice for immunity or how to use up that left over dahl that I didn´t actually have leftover from the previous nights dinner.This was not going to help my endeavour, not one iota.
While there are many factors that contribute to body weight, such as age, gender, genetics, and exercise, food choice is one aspect that you have complete control over to help achieve weight goals.You don't have to give in to the next trendy detox that you see on social media, or meal delivery service that guarantees a perfect budgie smugglers fit in seven days. These "solutions" are temporary fixes that will not offer long-term results. Simple lifestyle choices can make a big impact when it comes to health goals. Exercise, stress management, and food choices are all important factors to tackle when fighting the bulge.
  I was trying to lose weight, eating a healty diet as I already was but in larger portions, and that was no good.I must eliminate snacking and adopt one new discipline "Portion Control" .Eat less and stay moderately hungry. If a snack was called for at any time of the day it was to be brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts or any nut in fact so long as it was salt free and unfried. This was my secret.and believe me it worked I lost 11 kilos in 6 months, and gosh did I feel better, the tummy had shrunk, the cholesterol was down and hey ho I was drinking less.

But "What was it Muesli? What was it, muesli?"...that was another huge contributory factor to my weight loss achievement, the Mediterranean diet of course.
A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries including Portugal France, Greece, Italy and Spain.It varies by country and region, so it has a range of definitions. But in general, it's high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods and has been linked with good health, including a healthier heart.The Mediterranean diet is unlike other ‘diets’, and technically isn’t a ‘diet’ in the traditional sense of the word. It’s a way of living and a lifestyle choice that focuses on enjoying foods that promote overall bodily health, rather 

than aiming solely to help you lose weight.

Mediterranean Cous Cous (pictured above)
To make the cous cous
Dissolve one organic vegetable stock cube in 250ml boiling water and pour over 5oz 150g of cous cous.leave to stand until all the liquid has been absorbed by the cous cous, then fluff up with a fork.allow to cool completely

200g (8oz) cherry tomatoes
2 medium avocados cut into small chunks

200g (8oz) feta cheese crumbled
handful of pitted olive
s
mixed leaves
5 tbsp E.V.olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
Flor de sal and pepper to taste

Stir half the dressing into the cous cous,mix in the tomatoes,feta cheese, avocados, olives. Toss the salad leaves in the remaining dressing and mix together with the cous 
cous. 

Brown Rice salad

   

This Brown Rice Salad looks way too healthy to taste as good as it does! The fresh herbs and especially the coriander with the bright lemon dressing totally makes it. The perfectly cooked, nutty brown rice helps. Everything else is customisable. You didn’t really think I’d share a rather dull (but life essential) post for brown rice without qualifying it  with an extremely delicious way to use it, did you? This is a Brown Rice Salad that aspires to be everything you expect a rice salad to be (healthy, filling, fresh) and everything you don’t expect it to be (can’t-stop-eating-it-delicious). It’s also a rice salad that will surprise those cynics of you who grew up not realising such a thing existed. It is very, very good. It’s fresh, juicy, bright, and really makes the most of the addictive nutty, slightly chewy texture of brown rice, though it can be made with any type of cooked rice, or other grains for that matter (farro, pearl barley, tiny or giant
couscous like my cous cous salad above).
Here are  some of the variations on a theme that I included this brown rice salad –this is  a list of
customising suggestions.

Brown rice – only perfectly cooked brown rice allowed in these parts! No mushiness permitted Alternatives: any rice – normal or fancy (white, jasmine, basmati, wild etc), quinoa, and anything rice-like shaped such as farro, pearl barley, couscous;
Cucumber & tomato – the freshness and juiciness;
Red onion – welcome sharp bite. Alternatives: green onion, Eschallots/French shallots;
Coriander/ Parsley/ Basil – one of the best fresh herb combinations for salads, in my humble opinion.
Rocket – I really like adding a bit of green fluffage into any starch based salad. For interest, extra freshness and to add a different textural element. Alternatives: any sliceable leafy greens – baby or normal spinach, kale (marinate it first to make it softer),
cabbage.
Customise the vegetables with any raw or cooked vegetables you want (diced and
sautéed in a little oil perhaps with some garlic, or roasted – try Aubergine. It’s amazing!).

How I achieved my weight loss

Highest weight recorded: 81 Kgs

Weight lost:
11 Kgs

Duration it took me to lose weight: Around 5-6 months
The turning point: There was a point in my life where I knew that I needed to do something for my health, but I was not serious enough. However, I slowly piled on kilos and realised that my weight had touched 81 kilos.I was not able to wear some of my favourite clothes because of the growing weight and I felt lethargic and bloated. I decided to do something about my weight, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of exercising (or even walking) and was a big foodie. The day I decided to lose weight and get healthy, there was no looking back. It has now been seven months since then and I have lost approximately 11 kilos.

Pomegarante juice with a dash of orange
INGREDIENTS FOR 1 SERVING
1 pomegranate
¼ cup water
½ cup fresh orange juice

My breakfast: Since I am lucky enough to love healthier variants, for my first meal of the day, I choose between oats, cereals (a mixture of whole-grain flakes such as oats, wheat, rye, barley, rice, nuts and sunflower seeds without any form of sugar) non dairy milk with rice or almonds. Some days a smoothie of fruit or vegetables or a mix of the
two .Overnight oats with prunes or banana and honey.
Egg and avocado on toast is another of my favourite options, or simply peanut butter or
hummus and toast.And of course home squeezed juice.,My favourite was orange and pomegranate (above).

Egg white omelette with Avocado and spinach

My lunch:
For lunch, I chose salad,tuna, brown rice or cous cous, wholemeal sandwich with avocado and goat cheese, soup, white of egg omelette (above) with avocado and spinach or goats cheese, different varieties of wrap. Different types of hummus, (beetroot, pumpkin, tapenade).Light soups like gazpacho.

My dinner:
I choose from curry, risotto, simple pasta dishes, fish, steak or other lean cuts of meat, and salad.I avoid fried dishes, opting for grilled instead.

Pre-workout meal: Since the only workout I do is going for a walk, I drink a glass of water after waking up and a cup of organic tea with nondairy milk before going for a walk.

Post-workout meal: I have my breakfast after walking for 1 to 2 hours.

Indulgences :
I never managed to eliminate alcohol completely, but I was very careful while choosing what to eat, to stick to no more than two glasses of red wine a day and occasionally a gin and tonic at the weekend but one must be aware of the sugar content and calories in the tonic. The main objective was to eliminate snacking, but as a last resort I would have a small portion of mixed unsalted nuts.

My exercise: I make it a point to walk for at least 30 minutes 3 times a day, no matter what happens.
Fitness secrets I unveiled: I realised that the first thing you need to do is understand your body type and then only you will be able to stay fit and healthy. Here are some of the fitness secrets that I revealed:
1 I have made it a point to stop eating after I feel full, no matter how tasty the dish is.

2 It is important to determine a balanced diet for yourself which fulfils all your requirements of protein, fibre, vitamins, essential fats and carbohydrates.

3  Portion control is a must. NO SNACKING between meals

4  Dinner should be light so that it’s easy to digest because your metabolism is slowest during the night.

5  Consistency is the key. Whatever plan you come up with, it’s important to follow it through till you reach your goal.

6 In addition to a diet plan, you also need to include physical activity in your routine to increase your calorie output. In my case, I make sure to walk for at least 30 minutes every day.

How do I stay motivated?
Some of the gradual changes like witnessing the numbers on the weighing scale going down, experiencing the change in the shape of my body and not feeling bloated and lethargic anymore were enough to keep me motivated.

How do you ensure you don’t lose focus?
After truly understanding the importance of being healthy, my focus remained unwavering. I did a lot of research and came up with healthier and equally tasty versions of the common dishes we eat every day so I never felt that I was compromising on taste, which helped me to stay focussed.

What’s the most difficult part of being overweight?
I used to feel really bloated and lethargic when I was overweight. Also, I wasn’t able to wear some of my favourite trousers because of my weight and it was not exactly the best feeling in the world.

What shape do you see yourself 10 years down the line?
I want to stay as fit and healthy as I am today. I also want to change people’s perception of diet food. We need to understand that diet food can be tasty and healthy at the same time. I also see myself creating healthy versions of different delicious cuisines and motivating others in their weight loss journey.

What are the lifestyle changes you made?
It’s been 7 months and my weight is now constant although I fluctuate 2 kilos above and around my achieved goal. I haven´t gained back any kilos permanently. Whenever I have my meals, I observe the feeling of fullness and listen to my body.

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