Day 64: Weight loss Dinner

For those of you who have asked about what I eat, here’s a great dinner for weight loss. It’s all about making small changes to your lifestyle and all these small changes add up to a big change. I often have this dinner as it’s easy to do with everyone else and supportive husband likes this as it doesn’t have wheat flour in it. He has a very bad reaction to wheat flour if he exercises after eating it, known as a wheat induced exercise allergy caused by gliadin, one of the proteins in wheat.

Spaghetti bolognese, use turkey or Quorn mince instead of beef mince. Turkey or Quorn mince is much lower in fat and high in protein, and in place of the spaghetti use green runner beans shredded. To get your green beans like this I use one of these handy little tools, green bean slicer.

Here’s the recipe, which is easy to make:

600 grams of turkey mince, 1 onion, I tin of chopped tomatoes, a chicken oxo, I teaspoon of oregano, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 300 grams of green runner beans. Chop the onion and fry with the turkey mince in the olive oil until the mince is no longer pink (usually around 10 minutes), add the chopped tomatoes, crumble in the oxo cube, add the oregano boil for 10 minutes then leave on a low heat to simmer for another 30 minutes. Shred the beans and cook in boiling salt water for 10 minutes. Put the beans on the bottom in place of spaghetti and add the mince on top.

Why is this a good dinner? Here’s the science: Turkey mince contains plenty of protein (ghrelin the hunger hormone is suppressed by protein) keeps you feeling full for longer. Olive oil is also better for you than margarine for cooking as it contains pretty stable monounsaturated fatty acids and has a high level of protective antioxidants, most margarine contains trans fats which your body doesn’t recognise as food so finds it hard to digest and ends up floating around clogging up your arteries. Tinned tomatoes are high in lycopene, shown to help lower the risk of heart disease, prostate and breast cancer. Green beans are high in fibre (keeps you full for longer) rich in antioxidants and flavonoids. This really is so much better for you than a traditional spaghetti bolognese as you don’t have the flour from the pasta in there to give you those unwanted insulin spikes you get slow release glucose from the beans instead. I promise after this you will feel nice and full but you won’t feel bloated.


Fitness has been not so good this week and I have only swum 1 mile, this makes me 20 miles in on the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge (just 2 miles to go and I will have swum the distance of the channel. ) People have asked how I keep count of the lengths, I use a FitBit Flex 2, it’s a bit odd as it tells me I have been doing the elliptical but when I tell it on my ‘phone that I have been swimming it gives me the lengths I have swum so it all works out in the end! Last week, I was in Edinburgh at a conference and also out at the weekend so only did one swim and one Zumba session (pretty poor on the exercise). I went out to the Zumba Christmas social at the Cultivo Lounge which is really nice and then went out celebrating a friend’s 50th birthday on Saturday night at The Old George. Both of these are superb places to eat and drink but I was just too tired to swim on Sunday, as well as Saturday after having three nights out and a long day out with floghts in the week.

This week I aim to finish the challenge by going on Wednesday night swim at ladies only night and the weekend at Hitchin Pool. There is still time if you want to donate, please go to my just giving page Fundraising Page for Aspire Charity and donate whatever you can.


Day 57: Cinnamon for fat burning

Another tip for weight loss I use is to replace chocolate sprinkles on my morning cappuccino with cinnamon. Why? here’s the science – chocolate sprinkles are packed with sugar and this gives you a spike of insulin, which as you’ll know if you’ve read my other blog posts is not what you want as this can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, one of the most awful diseases to suffer with. Cinnamon, on the other hand, has no sugar in it and has been shown in some studies to induce thermogenesis, this is where some of the compounds found in the cinnamon act on fat cells to make them start burning fat. Now the amount you sprinkle on your coffee won’t make you into Kate Moss overnight but it’s a step in the right direction! It was one of the things in combination with a ton of others that help me on the Myleene Klass MyBody Challenge to lose 1.5 stone in 12 weeks. Weight loss which I have maintained by following a menopause friendly lifestyle since.

glenn gratton week 12 myleene k023

Fitness has been good this week and I have swum another 3 miles, this makes me 19 miles in on the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge – only another 3 miles to go and I will have swum the distance of the channel. Adding a Wednesday night swim at ladies only night at Hitchin Pool has really helped. I found out this week that the Aspire Charity is helping one of my niece’s school friends who broke his back while jumping into a lake on holiday and is now at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital being rehabilitated so you never know when someone’s life will change and they will need this kind of support. There is still time if you want to donate, please go to my just giving page Fundraising Page for Aspire Charity and donate whatever you can.

I have managed to get along to Annie Farrow’s Zumba twice this week, which is a minor miracle. Zumba is a great way to get fit and stay fit because there is none of this getting up and down all the time that you get with HIT training. HIT is all very well but it is not great as you get older as I found by the time I was down on the floor to do an exercise it was time to get up again and it just didn’t work for me. Annie’s class is great, we do about 6-8000 steps per class (I measure it on my FitBit Charge 2) and she makes it so much fun I ache all over at the end but I never want the class to stop because we’re all having such a  good time.


Time to go and write a report on cell therapy, with my lovely cinnamon topped coffee to power me up.



Day 50: Weight loss lunch

I promised I would tell you about the lunch I eat to help keep my weight stable. Here is what I used to eat: toasted white bread and cheese sandwich which is really not good. Why? well here’s the science – white flour is easy for the body to turn into blood glucose (sugar) and this gives you a spike of insulin. If you keep having these insulin spikes your body becomes insulin resistant and you can eventually end up with type 2 diabetes or the growth of cancerous cells as cancer cells have more insulin receptors (docking stations) on them. White flour also causes inflammation as the gluten proteins in it trigger inflammatory molecules and some poor folks (supportive husband is one – can even develop life-threatening allergies to proteins in white flour).

Here’s my healthy and filling lunch secret:

  1. 2 rye crispbreads (Ryvita are one of the best and tastiest)
  2. butter 1 teaspoon on each crispbread
  3. Grated cheese (medium fat cheddar or red Leicester) 20 grams
  4. 1 apple cut into slices

Why is this a good lunch? Here’s the science: rye crispbreads contain whole grains. This means they don’t give you the insulin spike so you get slow release glucose and they are higher in fibre than white bread and are more filling. If you add cheese, this contains calcium and protein (ghrelin the hunger hormone is suppressed by protein) which again keeps you feeling full for longer. Butter is also better for you than margarine as most margarine contains trans fats which your body doesn’t recognise as food so finds it hard to digest and ends up floating around clogging up your arteries yuk! Why the apple? These are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fiber (again keeps you full for longer). This really is so much better for you than a sandwich at lunch time.

It has been another good week for fitness and I have swum another 3 miles. Since the Apprentice is on, I added another swim on Wednesday to avoid watching the TV through my fingers and thinking where do they get these nutters from. I am now at  16 miles on the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge – only another 6 miles to go and I will have swum the distance of the channel. Wednesday is a great night to swim as it is ladies only from 8pm at Hitchin Pool so I can swim up and down without having the power males steaming up and down doing 2 lengths of the crawl as fast as they can and then stopping at the end to get in the way!

The fundraising is going well with £200 donated to the Aspire charity which helps support people with spinal cord injuries. This will help to buy pillows and kitchen equipment.  There is still time if you want to donate then please go to my just giving page Fundraising Page for Aspire Charity and donate whatever you can.

Time to go and do the final edits to my Dutch biotech article, while Sybil keeps me company in my office.


Day 43: Unlucky for some

My fitness has picked up again, so have managed to swim 13 miles on the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge – only another 4 weeks to do it. I didn’t manage to do my two usual swims at the weekend as I was out with London cousin trying to see Motown the Musical, which was cancelled (boo) after an hour of us sitting there waiting to see the show. People started to get very testy and there was even a slow hand clap at one point. I have to say the Shaftsbury theatre staff were shockingly bad at dealing with giving us refunds but it did appear in my account after a couple of hours so that’s something. Luckily, the restaurant we had booked Treadwells were able to let us in early. The food, staff and everything about the place was superb and such a contrast to the theatre. They made what could have been a disastrous time a great day out for me and my cousin. If you have not been, go there everything about it is excellent.

London cousin wanted to know how I have managed to lose weight and keep it off so here’s one of my top tips.

  1. Eat a power protein packed breakfast – I have 10g walnuts, 10g almonds, a tablespoon of sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds or linseeds and sunflower seeds depending on where you in your cycle. It doesn’t look like much in the bowl but trust me because it is so full of protein you’ll feel full for longer. Why? Well here comes the science – it’s because of ghrelin this is a hunger hormone which is suppressed by protein. If you eat a high protein breakfast you’ll feel full for longer.  The seeds are also part of a hormone balance for the menopause – I am doing menopause without HRT so I eat seeds which have natural estrogen or progesterone boosting properties. It works really well as I don’t suffer all the menopause symptoms that I used to do before I started this. If you want to do it go to this Seed rotation to balance hormones link to find out more. It will really help.

Since I am now one swim behind, I’m going to have to up my game and do a few swims in the week instead of just at the weekend. The Apprentice is back on TV that should be easier as I can go on a Wednesday because I can’t stand watching it. It makes my toes curl how awful these folks are. Feisty daughter and supportive husband love it. I’m still swimming a mile each time I go to Hitchin Pool and so in another 9 swims, I should have done it.  The fundraising is going pretty well too and some of my lovely friends and colleagues have donated £175 for the Aspire charity which helps support people with spinal cord injuries. I was surprised that just asking people on Facebook to donate seems to work!  There is still time if you want to donate then please go to my just giving page Fundraising Page for Aspire Charity and donate whatever you can. Thanks!

Going to go and eat some seeds now to get powered up for writing about DNA imaging, I’m just so rock and roll.


Day 29: Monday Motivation – 10 miles of the channel swum

Haven’t been blogging much lately as I’ve been too busy with work and life! The beginning of the month I did a press tour of Dutch biotech and life science companies, very interesting but massively tiring. Then the week after, I was ill. I felt really dizzy and unwell, so my fitness was totally rubbish and I didn’t do much of anything. Work has taken off again too, it’s that time of year when companies start thinking about planning and realising they have nobody experienced to do the work they need to be completed. That’s when I get a call. Still mustn’t grumble as it keeps me out of trouble and we all serve and contribute in our own way.

I have been landed with a massive planning project, which took up a huge amount of time and energy. Thankfully last week, I felt a lot better and was able to swim this past weekend and this one. I have now swum just over 10 miles of the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge – only another 12 to go. I’m able to swim a mile each time I go to Hitchin Pool and I am looking forward to, in the next 12 swims completing the challenge. I have been good at the swimming front but not the fundraising to date and I’ll have to up my game on that, now it looks like I’ll actually finish this! One of my life’s ambitions has been to swim the channel and although I’m not actually swimming the channel at least I can say I have swum the distance and who knows it may inspire me to look at doing it for real. After attending a friend’s wake on Saturday, it does make you realise that the time to do the things you want is today, as you never know when the reaper’s icy fingers will grip your shoulder.

Anyway, if you want to donate to help support people living with spinal cord injuries then please go to my just giving page Fundraising Page for Aspire Charity and donate whatever you can. Thanks!

Going to go and drink my coffee and get powered up for finishing my article on Dutch biotech now.



Day 14: Going Dutch

The past week has not been great for fitness as I went out to the pub on Tuesday with Jiving Friend whom I have known for over 20 years. We met at a jive class, and used to go all over the place jiving. I still do jive but she has long since given up. It was her birthday and despite living in London she always gets a voucher from a local Hitchin pub, The Angels for a free bottle of wine with a meal. We live just around the corner and don’t get one, I’m not sure how she manages it from South London. Anyway, she came up from London and we went out for a lovely meal, made even nicer with the free bottle of wine! To make up for Tuesday, we were booked to go for a day of exercise at  Bannatyne as it was National Fitness Day, the pass was free too, there’s a bit of theme here.

This Bannatyne is at Fairfields which used to be a psychiatric hospital and the buildings are gothic and look like the kind you’d read about in a Dickens’ novel which would have been labelled an asylum. There was a very odd feel about the place and although I enjoyed going there for swimming and an aqua class I’m not sure I would go again because the pool was in subdued lighting in a basement and it just felt a bit too creepy and oppressive for my liking. We couldn’t stay all day as Feisty Daughter decided to be unwell with a heavy cold so we didn’t want to leave her for too long. When we got back she was fast asleep and didn’t notice we had been gone. We made sure she had some food and then went off for a walk up by the Lavender Farm just to get a bit more fitness in.

By Thursday I too had developed the rather unwelcome cold and didn’t feel well enough to go to Zumba with Annie or go swimming, which I was really fed up about.

I did however feel much better on Saturday and managed a personal best of 93 lengths (counted by my FitBit Flex) and have now done over four miles of the Aspire challenge – only another 18 to go – I’ll be as fit as a butcher’s dog if I manage to do it! Then it was out to the Granello Lounge for Pina Colada with supportive husband as Feisty Daughter was doing her Duke of Edinburgh expedition and was away for the weekend walking 25 miles (good luck with that!) as well as camping out on Saturday night.

Won’t be able to do much swimming at the beginning of next week as I’m on a press tour of biotech and pharmaceutical companies in the Netherlands but hope to swim on Thursday and next weekend as there’s still quite a bit of the channel left to swim!


Day 5: 20 miles to go!

It’s been a great week for fitness, I have managed to make it to two classes with Annie Farrow Zumba this week (which is always a bonus) and got to 2 miles in the Aspire Challenge.

Smart son has called or text our family WhatsApp group chat every day with updates of his adventures at Fresher’s week at The University of Sheffield.  So far he seems to have been to loads of parties and got in around 5 am most mornings, had several power naps and even made it to introductory maths lectures at 9 am in the morning. He also seems to be the only one that can cook and do budgets in his flat of 10 (5 boys and 5 girls). They were amazed by his chicken tikka and rice and his meatballs and pasta made from ingredients (both of which are things we taught him to cook before leaving home) and his extensive collection of Tupperware containers to store food. He was shocked that everyone ate either beans on toast or boil in the bag concoctions. He has also surprised his flatmates by keeping an Excel spreadsheet to track expenses and some have asked them to send a copy so they can do the same. His comment so far is they think he is a God, a position in the flat which he is enjoying I think. When he was little my friend used to say he was 4 going on 40 and I think that may still hold true! Not sure how we have raised such a sensible and organised son but am delighted that he is embracing adult life away from home. Just hope he can keep up the sensible activities and also get to bed a little earlier when lectures start in earnest next week.



Day 1: Swim the channel!

Dropped off smart son at the University of Sheffield yesterday. It was a bitter-sweet day – when I was proud of the man he has become but sad to see my little boy making his first steps to leaving home. He had his room looking great by the time we left him so I felt pretty good on the drive home – much better than on the drive up to Sheffield where I felt like I would burst into tears at any moment.

As it’s the start of a new life. I decided to take on a new 12-week challenge. I have wanted to do this for a while but was not fit enough. Since I have lost weight and got fit I thought it was now or never. So today I have started the Aspire Challenge 

This involves swimming the English Channel over 12 weeks to raise money to help people with spinal injuries. So far, I have swum 84 lengths of Hitchin Pool (according to my FitBit Flex 2 – 51 lengths and 820 metres) not quite sure why it changed from lengths to metres halfway through. This is just over a mile so only another 21 miles and I will have swum the channel!

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoor

Granello Lounge – fab place

Yesterday, went to the launch party of a new bar, the Granello Lounge in Hitchin and it was awesome there. I immediately loved it when I walked in as it had William Morris wallpaper (or what looked like it) on the wall. Being from Walthamstow in East London I grew up going to the William Morris Gallery regularly on my walk home from school and even had William Morris wallpaper on my bedroom wall when I was a teenager (I was a strange kid) so seeing it yesterday made me feel cozy and at home.

The service, drinks, general vibe were all brilliant. Supportive husband and I enjoyed the grapefruit gin and tonics and lovely tapas while discussing how much we would miss smart son when he goes away at the weekend.


Anyway got to get on as have a technical application note to finish writing on ultrafiltration and am off to Zumba with Annie tonight so that’s something to look forward to!


30 Years’ Married!

Haven’t blogged for a while as it has been a massively busy time personally and professionally.  Supportive husband and I celebrated 30 years of marriage last week and spent a couple of days away without feisty daughter and smart son. We went to the Manor of Groves which was fabulous. Did loads of swim, gym and used their body measurements machine. I was delighted by my new body stats and am now classed as a healthy weight and very muscular (from being overweight and out of breath climbing stairs) all thanks to the MyBody Challenge!

After all the exercise we went for a walk through the grounds to a nice country pub we’d seen on the way to the hotel and enjoyed a preprandial drink before we had a wonderful meal in the hotel where the food is amazing. Totally loved it there and will definitely go back.

This week, I have been going through my accounts with smart son, who is my brilliant bookkeeper and have finally submitted them to  Bracey’s Accountants so I’m feeling relieved that this is over for another year. Have also spent much of this week helping smart son fill the spare room with everything he needs to go to the University of Sheffield at the weekend. I cannot believe he is leaving home and I am both proud and worried in equal measure!