Excess Baggage – a Check-in

Cold roast beef salad

It was fitness testing week last week – it was also a week where I did my absolute best to sabotage myself. And given that this is a brutally honest and raw diary of my (and I hate this word) journey, let’s deal with the latter part of that first.


I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a comfort eater in the normal way of comfort eating. I don’t go for the chocolate or the sugary treats if I’m sad. I do, however, go for the bread, butter, cheese, wine and other in-betweeny things if I’m feeling strung-out, trapped, stressed, controlled, manic, trapped, over-committed, micro-managed, trapped, restless, unfulfilled…yadda yadda yadda. I also get a tad like this if I’m nearing the end of a personal project or have nothing on the horizon to look forward to – in that case, it’s the ending without another beginning that creates the vacuum.

As an aside, that last point reminds me of the line from the Roman philosopher Seneca (and the American band Semisonic):

Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.

Anyways, last week wasn’t about endings or a lack of beginnings, it was about feeling trapped, stressed, controlled, restless and the rest of the boys in that particular band.

The reasons are simple: there’s a lot going on in the day job, a big personal decision to be made, I haven’t been writing (ie no creative outlet), I’ve been sleeping more poorly than usual and I allowed my old friends Self-doubt and Not Good Enough (and their mates) to come and stay for a few days. By the time I kicked them out I was convinced that I’d never make a success as an author and that I’d be stuck doing what I’m doing for the rest of my life and always be exhausted, restricted, retrained and over-committed. Dramatic much. If I was to be astrological with you I’d say I’d gone too far into my 12th house – the place where I come undone.

It felt very much as though the only thing in my life I had any control over was what I put in my mouth and by god, I was going to eat (and drink) what I wanted when I wanted and heaven forbid anyone who tried to put rules around that or tell me what to do. ‘Yes, I’m well aware it’s a weeknight, thank you very much for pointing that out.’

The result was not a good one for the scales or the way my tummy was feeling. Anyways, that was last week and it’s mine to own. Besides, this is all about consistency rather than perfection so, as they say, onwards and upwards.

Fitness Testing

Thursday morning was fitness testing time for our little training group – and contrary exacerbating Not Good Enough’s influence on me, it put into perspective just how much progress I’ve made. It was enough to help me kick the unwanted negative thoughts out of the house and see possibility again.

While I’d been feeling stronger, I didn’t have the numbers to prove it (that’s another thing you need to know about me – but more on that another time). Now I did.

In addition to the improvements in strength and cardio fitness, the scales showed a 2kg loss for the month – even with the impact of last week – and key body measurements had also begun to move in the right direction.

To be honest, I know how hard I have worked on that, so was pretty chuffed that the testing results reflected that.

In the kitchen

Lemon pepper and parsley fish

Aside from the mid-week alcohol (which I’ve been trying to avoid), the food was all tasty and nutritious – there was just rather a lot of it and more snacking than I usually do.

Last week was about doing different things with leftovers – and trying out a few new recipes.

On Sunday night we had roast beef, and the following night had it again, but cold this time and as a salad. In an idea I got from Nigella’s How To Eat, I served it with some warm herby and garlicky cannellini beans, some tomatoes, and an anchovy sauce. I know that anchovy is a love-hate thing, but we’re definitely on the love side.

Later in the week, I roasted a chicken in soy sauce, ginger, garlic and chilli and served it with Asian greens and a little white rice. The leftover roast chicken went into a Chiang Mai curry noodle dish the following night. Both were from Diana Henry’s fabulous Food From Plenty.

In terms of baking, my book club (virtually) baked Bakewell Slice to celebrate finishing The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – you can find the recipe and an explanation of why I chose this particular recipe for that book – here. It makes quite a lot so some went into the freezer and some to work with Grant.

The recipe I’ll share with you this week though is a simple lemon pepper and parsley fish. I used cod which is a right pain to cook through properly and quite a meaty fish, but you can use any white fish you like with this. Be free and easy with the veg too – whatever you have will be fine.

The quantities below serve 2 people:

What you need

  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated or crushed
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • 300g white fish – snapper, basa, barramundi, whatever
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • something green – broccolini, asparagus
  • something else green – a couple of handfuls of spinach
  • a pinch or so of ground pepper

What you do with it

Combine the pepper and half the lemon juice, garlic and parsley in a shallow dish. Add the fish and turn to coat. Set aside.

Heat half the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the rest of your garlic and your green veg and cook for a couple of minutes. Toss in the tomatoes and cook for another minute or so. If you’re using spinach, you can chuck this in now and give it another stir it through.

Remove it from the heat, slide it onto a plate and get started on the fish.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan and cook the fish for 2-3 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the fillets eg cod will take longer). Plate beside your veg and drizzle over the remaining lemon juice. Finish with the rest of the parsley.

Job. Done.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

11 thoughts

    1. It really is about owning it, I think…and knowing that you’re not perfect and being okay with that – and I’m far from perfect!

  1. I hear you Jo, the up and down thing, the self doubt, self sabotage…just so you know I think you are doing really well and you are a fabulous writer. Take care xx

  2. I am so glad you shared the fish recipe! I thought as I was scrolling through that it looked delicious and I have some white fish in my freezer that my husband caught earlier this month that I’ve been wanting to try something with. I too have had just an awful eating week; my husband is sick and I’m not sleeping well so I was eating lots of carbs and chocolate this week and am a bit afraid to step on the scale and see all the hard work from earlier this month that I’ve undone.

  3. Your honesty is so refreshing, Jo, and comforting – we are not alone here!
    Hurray for positive results on the Fitness testing … on on!
    Your food plates are beautiful, as always – thank you for your inspiration on that front too!

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