Here’s To Non Scale Victories! 

Six weeks ago, my husband and I decided to completely overhaul our diet/lifestyle and follow a ketogenic diet. Essentially, it’s a very low carb, (20g or less per day), high fat and moderate protein. No sugars or artificial sweeteners, no grains, no legumes and no pseudo grains. Some of you may remember that I previously did the Whole 30 diet, keto is very similar, except it allowed dairy, (if you can tolerate it), and is meant to be a way of life, not a temporary trial. 

The idea of intentionally eating high fat foods is somewhat foreign to most of us. It certainly was intimidating to me. I spent about a year researching this way of eating and watching friends who followed before I managed to find the courage to try it myself. To be honest, if not for my husband, I probably would never have made the leap. This way of eating goes against everything we Americans are taught about “healthy” eating. The standard American diet consists mainly of complex carbohydrates and processed foods with some red meat and vegetables thrown in for variety. 

Our own government tells us this is how we should be eating. Fat is bad! Carbs are good! We are constantly bombarded with images of “low fat” and “whole grain” foods. What no one tells you is that in order to make anything “low fat” palatable, the manufacturers are loading their food with sugar to replace the fat. I have come to realize that fat, (good, non processed fat), is not the enemy; sugar is. If I want to have a fibro flare up, the fastest way to get there is to eat sugar. It doesn’t matter if I go for organic snooty sugar or the basic stuff found in candy bars, it causes a painful reaction. Unfortunately, sugar is also highly addictive and I have been an addict all my life. 

Unfortunately, doing Whole 30 and then paleo did nothing to help me with this addiction. I made it through Whole 30 only because I knew it would only be for 30 days and then I went right back to my vices. Paleo allowed me to continue eating sugar, just in different, albeit cleaner forms like maple syrup and honey. Keto allows for no such slip ups. The whole point of eating a high fat, low carbohydrate diet is to teach your body to burn stored fat for energy; to go into ketogenesis. If you consume sugar or anything else high in carbs, your body will revert back to burning glucose and storing the fat. 

So. How is keto working for us? In short, amazingly. In six short weeks, my husband has lost 20lbs, (and counting!). I am down about 10lbs, but I’ve already dropped a jeans size and heading towards a second. More importantly however, is how we feel. Both of us have experienced massive energy increases, better sleep, fewer headaches and much improved moods. Best of all, I’ve been in complete control of my sugar cravings. Not only was I strong enough to turn away from deep fried Oreos while at a haunted farm, I made it through Halloween without eating a single piece of candy!! I won’t say I wasn’t tempted, but it’s never been so easy to say “no”. 

While I would love to be losing weight a little faster, I am beyond thrilled with the non scale victories I’ve been experiencing. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have control over my cravings and I have never felt better! 

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Bake on!

We’re now over a full month into our Paleo adventure! We’ve had a few cheat meals, but for the most part, we’ve stuck to the program! It’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be, although it is exhausting having to make pretty much everything from scratch. Luckily, both of us love to cook and cooking together only adds to the fun.

I’m still working on this bread thing. Last week, we made a batch using half cassava flour and half almond flour. It was very good, but it still lacks the size needed for a real sandwich. The cassava flour allows for a more traditional bread texture, which is amazing. Next time I attempt bread, I think we’ll try a recipe that uses yeast, since neither of us have any issues with eating it. 

The one thing I love about baking bread without yeast is that it comes together super fast. There’s no need to wait for rising and you don’t have to knead it; just whisk together and pop it in the oven. Unfortunately, the husband and I miss sandwiches. I’ve been craving a PBJ for ages now, (though it would have to be an almond butter and jelly since peanuts are not allowed). 

Today, I made English muffins! 


Aren’t they pretty? These were also quick to put together, but the cashew butter makes them a bit too expensive for me to want to make regularly. I am very pleased with the flavor, but they’re just too soft to be used the way we’d want to eat them. If you tried to make an egg sandwich or top them with anything other than a bit of butter, they’d fall apart. Again, I’m going to give the cassava flour a try. Stay tuned! 

Paleo Life

It’s been a busy few weeks around here. The success of the paleo cupcakes for my husband’s birthday has sparked a renewed interest in paleo baking in the both of us. We loved making bread before this diet change and we’re excited to try some new techniques. 
This last week, we tried a paleo sandwich bread made using almond flour. The one thing I noticed right off was that since this bread has no gluten or more importantly, yeast in it, it comes together so much faster than standard sandwich bread. So, that’s a win! There’s no need for rise time, punching or kneading the dough; you basically mix it, pour it in the pan and bake! The downside to no yeast however, is that the finished product doesn’t rise very much. Vinegar and baking soda give it a slight boost, but for the most part, it comes out of the oven at the same height it went in. Drat. I was hoping for a nice, tall loaf of sandwich bread. What I got was a mini loaf, albeit a very tasty one. 


The flavor of the bread is awesome. It’s dense and slightly nutty, not too overpowering and would be perfect for sandwiches or toast, it just lacks height. I thought I could get a little more height out of it by separating the eggs and whipping the whites into medium peaks before folding them back in, but there was almost no difference in height between the two loaves. I did notice that the bread with the whipped egg whites came out a little less dense, which was nice, but not the result I was hoping for. Back to the drawing board on that one. 

I can confirm however, that as written, this bread makes amazing toast. I eat it with a little bit of butter (not paleo, I know, but it doesn’t bother me, so I’m going to keep eating it). My husband loves it with his morning eggs, so win-win!

On the upside, I’ve got (almost) paleo chocolate chip cookies AND fudgy brownies. So, so good. 

Both are made with almond flour and organic chocolate chips. The way I made them isn’t exactly paleo compliant because the chocolate chips do contain processed white sugar, but for now, that’s going to have to do. Once I run out of chocolate chips, I’ll look into making them 100% paleo.

For the cookies, I follow the recipe exactly. I did experiment by adding one cup of dried cranberries and one teaspoon of cinnamon in order to make something close to my oatmeal craisin cookies, EPIC! I’ll have to take a picture next time, I was too hungry to wait this last batch. 


For the brownies, I tried them exactly as written the first time around, but they were too cakey for my liking. I prefer my brownies to be super fudgy and moist. I thought 3 eggs seemed like too many the first time I made them, so on my second try, I cut it down to 2 eggs and that was perfect!


We’re still on the hunt for a more sandwich friendly bread; I just got a tip about cassava flour, which is already on its way to me, so hopefully next time, I’ll be able to report a success!

Whole 30, The End!

Sorry I didn’t post on the last week of my Whole 30, I had a terrible cold and just didn’t feel up to it. I ate mostly soup and bone broth that week, so you didn’t miss much. 

We made it! We’re actually almost a week past the end of our Whole 30, and it feels amazing!!! I lost just over 6 pounds in 30 days and I can’t even describe how awesome I feel. My skin is clear, my digestive issues have sorted themselves out and I’m even sleeping better at night! 

So, now what? Do I just go straight back to eating how I was before? What’s my plan for the future? Well, the husband and I have decided to make a major dietary change and go paleo permanently. Whoa. Wait. What on Earth does that even mean?The idea is simple, paleo refers to our caveman ancestors and the diet essentially consists of things that could be hunted or gathered, so lots of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Most importantly, the focus of paleo is cutting out processed foods and grains altogether. The paleo diet is very similar to Whole 30, but it is less restrictive on some things, like sugar. The Whole 30 does not allow any added sugars at all, except fruit juice. Paleo allows natural sugars such maple syrup and honey, which means we can have some sweets, (yay!). 

We haven’t decided yet how closely we want to stick to paleo guidelines. Right now, we’re considering a slightly modified version and allowing ourselves some dairy, because neither of us have any issues digesting it. We do plan to allow for cheat meals every now and then. Notice I didn’t say cheat “days”. I’ve always found the cheat day mindset to be particularly dangerous to any diet plan. I tend to go overboard on everything when it’s a whole cheat day. A cheat “meal” mindset allows us to have one non-compliant meal and then go right back to doing what we’re supposed to do as opposed to saying “well, I had a non compliant breakfast, may as well keep eating junk!”. 

Take this weekend, for instance, we went out to dinner for my husband’s birthday on Saturday. That was our cheat meal. The whole rest of the day, we stayed on plan. Before, I would have said “screw it, let’s ruin the whole day!”, and I’d have paid dearly for it the next. This way, we had some fun and didn’t feel guilty about it or make ourselves ill. Win! 

Speaking of birthdays, you may be wondering what kind of birthday doesn’t have a cake… not this one! I got a fabulous cookbook and made paleo compliant chocolate cupcakes with an equally compliant French buttercream. No one who tried them even realized they weren’t normal cupcakes until I told them, I’d say that’s a damn fine recipe. 


Ok, so you had a birthday cake. What about the Super Bowl?!? Don’t worry, I had that covered too! We made paleo friendly wings from NomNomPaleo and crispy smashed potatoes

I even got to have left over wings for dinner tonight with some roasted cauliflower and steamed green beans! Note: green beans are a controversial item on paleo; they’re legumes which technically aren’t allowed, but I say if it’s good enough for Whole 30, they’re good enough for paleo, since they’re mostly pod.


I think that’s just about it for now, more recipes and meal plans to come!

 

Whole 30, Day 22!

We are officially more than 2/3 of the way trough this round of Whole 30! 
This last week, we stuck with our breakfast smoothies, so nothing new or exciting there. 

Last week, I mentioned we had a bunch of all new recipes to try out, so here’s the run down. For lunches this week, we had a veggie laden pulled pork stew, (my own recipe, which I haven’t written out yet). I used left over pulled pork, bone broth, carrots, mushrooms, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, celery, onion and kale to make this super filling stew in the instant pot. One serving rolls in at about 307 calories and it kept me full all afternoon, win-win!


My husband wasn’t happy about the mushrooms in it, but otherwise loved it, so next time I make it, I’ll probably omit them.

Sunday, we made another new recipe: cilantro lime chicken, with roasted cauliflower and cabbage steaks.  The original recipe suggests serving this chicken over rice, but since rice is forbidden while on the Whole 30, I roasted up some cabbage steaks instead. I wasn’t sure how the cabbage steaks would go over, but they were awesome. We had a non Whole 30 friend over for dinner that night and he even enjoyed it!


Monday, we decided to make some grilled garlic shrimp with grilled asparagus since my husband was home from work for MLK Day. Oh my gosh, I love these shrimp. Not only are they super simple to put together, they are delicious! 


As you can see, with our shrimp, instead of pasta or another carby side, we had some more roasted cauliflower, (I am obsessed, not sorry), and we roasted a few of our home grown carrots, too. 

The rest of the week, we enjoyed curried shepherd’s pie. I made several changes to this recipe, the most obvious of which was using white potatoes and cauliflower in place of sweet potatoes. I also omitted the peas, since they’re not Whole 30 compliant and used bone broth rather than plain beef broth. I added in some finely diced mushrooms, a turnip and some extra cauliflower to make it a bit more filling. Next time I make this, I think I’ll add a lot more curry powder and probably a teensy bit more salt, but otherwise, it was excellent. 



Saturday was a little different this week since Aaron was working, but my good friend and fellow Whole 30 buddy, Amber came over to make dinner with me. We made NomNomPaleo’s Cracklin Chicken (sooo good!), roasted cauliflower and some kick ass garlic green beans. 


Amber brought her dog, Willow over to play with Freyja and we made a whole girl’s night of it, complete with scary movies. The only thing missing was chocolate and wine, mmmm….


For this next week, we’re having oven roasted pork ribs for dinner and chicken soup (with bone broth!) for lunches. I’ll probably be having just the soup today since my stomach is unhappy about something. Not a great start to the week, but hopefully things will be back to normal soon. 

Whole 30, Day 7

One week down, 3 more to go! Ugh, I miss cheese! And chocolate, but mostly cheese. That’s really about it though, yay!! I don’t miss the sugar in my morning coffee and while my evening cup of tea isn’t quite as pleasurable as it was before, I’m learning to enjoy it. 


Overall, I’m feeling really good. Pain is still currently an issue, but the cold and I are old enemies, nothing new there. Winter is always bad for me as far as pain goes. The Reynaud’s really starts acting up, adding an extra layer of pain to my already aching hands and feet and the fibro itself always seems to get more active in the cold. The snow storm I mentioned in my last post has finally cleared up, so that helped a little. We’ll be back up in the 60s by the end of the week, so I’m hoping the rest of my pain will ease up by then. 

In the meantime, I can enjoy the extra energy and clear headedness I’m experiencing from clean eating. So, what have I been eating that’s allowing me to feel so good? Here are a few of the things I’ve been eating during week one of my whole 30: 

For breakfast, I’ve been enjoying fried eggs with, (un cured, no sugar added), bacon and a hash made of baby potatoes and fresh veggies such as kale, cabbage, asparagus and Brussels sprouts. 

Earlier this week, I used my instant pot, (AKA the most amazing contraption EVER!), to make a huge batch of kale and potato soup, which I’ve been eating for lunch. Note: to make this recipe Whole 30 compliant, I omitted the beans. I also added some ground turkey “sausage” and used no sugar added chicken broth, so my version is definitely not vegan.


I’m not supposed to be counting calories while on the Whole 30, but I have to point out that this whole bowl of soup comes in at under 300 calories and is super filling! 

One of the more difficult things about the Whole 30, for me, is that you’re not supposed to snack between meals. I’m terrible about eating 3 meals a day, I prefer 5 small meals, so this is a huge adjustment for me. This week I ate a larger breakfast and an earlier lunch to cut out my mid morning snack, but I couldn’t quite make it to dinner, so I’ve allowed myself a compliant afternoon snack of either fruit or this awesome roasted cauliflower “hummus“. I think it sort of looks like cat food with green bits in it, but it tastes awesome. 


Dinner this week was Kalua Pig (another instant pot success!!) with coleslaw, (epic use of the home made mayo), and fresh green beans. Note: while most legumes are banned on the Whole k30, green beans are an exception since they’re mostly pod.


For those of you wondering, yes, we did eat the same thing for dinner every week night this week. I made a huge batch of everything and portioned it out into lovely little boxes to make life easier. I don’t know about you, but I rarely have the energy to worry about cooking every single night, so this process helps A LOT. It also helps cut down dishes, so major bonus. 

On the weekends, I do try to make dinner both nights, as a kind of reward for finishing up all of the prepped meals. Last night, we tried a paleo beef stew with roasted beets, carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts and some mashed potatoes. 

Tonight’s dinner is going to be carne asada with pan seared asparagus, but I’ll have to share that in my next post since I haven’t made it yet. 

Happy Sunday!

Whole 30, Round 2!

I was really excited to write this post because I wanted to share my Whole 30 experience this time around, but I find myself struggling to get started. The main issue is that I’m having a really horrible day pain wise, which I’m 99% sure is due to the snow storm about to hit us. All of my old injuries are aching, I’ve got this electric tingle flowing through my limbs, almost like it’s pinging off of my trigger points and causing them to pop. At the moment, I’m at about an 8/10; this is the worst I’ve felt in a long time. So, now, instead of writing a post simply to share what I’ve been eating and how I’m feeling about it, I’m also writing as a way to escape the pain. Bleh.

Where to start? For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Whole 30 plan, here’s a quick overview. The basic idea is to reset your body by cutting out “all psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days”. –whole30 

For the next 30 days, (25 for me, since I started this on January 3), there will be absolutely NO:

  • Added sugar/sweetener of any kind; including maple syrup, honey, agave, coconut sugar, stevia, Splenda, equal, nutrasweet, xylitol
  • Alcohol, not even for cooking
  • Grains (or pseudo grains):  wheat, eye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains, quinoa
  • Legumes: beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, soy
  • Dairy (except ghee or clarified butter)
  • Carrageenan, MSG or Sulfites

By now, you’re probably wondering, (like I did initially), what is even left to eat? 

“Meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.” – whole30

I know, it sounds like a lot. It is. I’m not going to sit here and tell you how easy it is. If I’m honest, it’s a pain in the ass. BUT ITS WORTH IT. Yes, I desperately miss cheese and chocolate and bread and pizza and all of the yummy things, but this is the second time I’ve done this diet and I will be the first to admit that I am just too lazy to do something like this if it didn’t do something for me. I’m only on day 5 and pain issues aside, I feel wonderful. My head is clear, I’m sleeping better, I have energy and my mood is excellent. 

The one thing that I have found to make this easier is meal planning. Before we, (my amazing husband is doing it too!), start the diet, I sit down and write out 5 weeks worth of meals, so there is never any question of “what am I going to eat today?”. No, I am not writing out different meals for each day. What we do is make a big batch of something on the weekend and then portion it out for the rest of the week. Here’s a sample of what I wrote out for this first week: 


See? Not that bad. The only real decision I have to make is which option I’m having for breakfast and lunch. I write this plan out for the next 5 weeks and we follow it. 

The hardest part is finding things that are compliant. Like bacon, for example. I never even considered sugar being used to cure bacon. It is possible to find bacon cured without sugar, but it ain’t easy. Another thing is mayo. So far, I haven’t been able to find a store bought mayonnaise with out added sugar or non-compliant oils. I’m sure there is one, but I hate to pay shipping costs on something that I can just as easily make myself. It took me a few tries to get it right, but I have finally mastered avocado oil mayonnaise. No added sugar or junk; just oil, eggs, a bit of salt, lemon juice and mustard and now I have mayonnaise that I can use to make compliant sauces or dressings. Yum! 

Now that we’re all caught up, I hope to keep updating on how it’s going and probably at least a few posts about what I’m actually eating. I’m really hoping that my current pain is only due to the weather and not the start of another flare up, but even if it is an actual flare up, I’ve found that eating cleanly really helps with the duration of the flare. Fingers crossed!!

Laughter is awesome!

Here’s a question: aside from being pictures of cats, what do these two photos have in common?

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The answer: they make me laugh like a lunatic. Hopefully, most of you reading this find them at least mildly amusing as well, if not, well, I can’t help you. 🙂

These pictures are part of a photo album on my phone that I call my “laugh arsenal”. I’m trying to start a new habit. The idea is that whenever I start feeling down or just bad in general, I pull up my funnies and get in a good laugh. We’ve all heard the saying, “laughter is the best medicine”, and I’m finding it to be totally true. In fact, I’m even forcing this new habit on my bestie; if one of us is having a “sad moment” or just feeling down, the other texts over something hilarious. It’s amazing how much better you feel after a good laugh, and laughing burns calories! Hello, weight loss plan!

The best part about including someone else in the fun is picturing their reaction to whatever bizarre image you’ve sent them, assuming they aren’t sitting right next to, of course. I find that imaging my friend’s face when she next picks up her phone, (especially if it’s first thing in the morning…), often makes me laugh harder than whatever I sent her in the first place. Admittedly, I do have an odd sense of humor, so she does get a lot of very strange pictures… It’s amazing what you can find on the internet when you google “funny pictures”.

The only major problem I’ve encountered with this little idea is that sitting in a room by yourself and laughing aloud for no apparent reason can make people question your sanity. That’s ok, I just show them this:

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Viola! No more questions… Just kidding! Although, I’m betting that if I really needed a laugh, that would be a great way to get one! I’ll have to tuck that idea away for later. Maybe I can use it the next time I’m sitting in a doctor’s waiting room… 🙂

Impossible things

I slept terribly last night. Once I finally fell asleep, (some time after 3 am), I had bizarre dreams and kept waking up to change positions. Bleh.

I’ve had a nagging headache for the last three days. Not a migraine, thankfully, but not the kind of headache I can just ignore either. It feels like there are evil little gnomes running metal rakes down the inside of my skull. I’ve tried just about everything in my arsenal, but nothing has helped. When I woke up this morning, the headache was there to greet me, and I immediately knew that I was missing more than a few spoons. (I’m not crazy, read The Spoon Theory and it will all make sense.)

As I lay there staring at my ceiling, looking for any excuse to delay getting out of bed, a scene from Alice in Wonderland, (the Tim Burton movie version), popped into my head. It was the beginning of the battle scene at the end of the movie, where Alice tells the Mad Hatter “Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast”. That got me to thinking, if Alice can summon up the courage to fight the Jabberwocky by believing in impossible things, maybe I could use the same trick to face the day…

Here’s what I came up with:

1.) Cookies for breakfast can be good for you.

2.) I can jog for a solid half mile without dying.

3.) I just donated all of my size 12 jeans because they were too big.

4.) Funny cat pictures can make anything better.

5.) Happiness is a choice.

6.) Even with this headache, I can get up and have a good day.

By the time I got to number 6, I was feeling much better. If you had handed me this list even six months ago, I’d have marked everything off as completely impossible. Simply knowing that they are all not just possible, but now part of my reality gives me more than enough strength to make sure today is a good one. The headache is still with me, but I’m not going to let it ruin my entire day, just writing this post is proof that I can still be productive. Am I going to go out and get groceries or clean the whole house? No, I’m not; however,  I’m not going to lay in bed all day and feel sorry for myself either. 🙂

The Yoga Verdict

About a month ago, in “The Plan, update #4”, I made a big deal about wanting to change my workout routine and giving yoga a try. I’m rather ashamed to admit it, but after publishing that post, I kind of ignored it. Ok, I seriously ignored it. The DVD arrived, I popped it in the player and bored myself to tears in about 5 minutes. So, I turned it off and didn’t give it a second glance until today. I could take the easy way out, say that the DVD was just too boring for me to suffer through and that it was a waste of money, but that’s not true. Yes, I was bored by the slow pace of the exercises, but that’s because at the time, I was looking for something more vigorous. I moved onto Jillian Michaels’ Thirty Day Shred and found it infinitely more satisfying.

The problem is, being in the middle of a nasty fibro flare makes Jillian considerably more difficult. I’m still trying to stick to my routine, but I’m finding it harder and harder to recover. When I woke up this morning, I was so stiff I could barely move. I started having flashbacks to The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy and the scarecrow meet the tin man… If I had thought that spraying myself with WD-40 would have helped, I’d have done it in a heartbeat. Which brings me back to the previously discarded yoga DVD.

One of the most important things that I have learned since starting my get healthy plan is that once I get moving, I feel better. My mood improves and the pain doesn’t seem as a bad. The hard part, of course, is getting myself to move in the first place. Let’s be serious here, when we’re in pain, the last thing we want to do is move. Unless of course that movement results in a comfy pillow and some chocolate. Thankfully, I have a new carrot dangling in front of my face: a little bit of movement = guaranteed relief. With that in mind, I finished my morning cup of tea (green tea!) and faced Ms. Barbara Benagh once again.

I started out with her 20 minute Sun Salutations routine, and let me say right now, this time it was not boring. The slow, gentle pace was exactly what my muscles needed. By the end of the routine, I was feeling energized and <gasp!> limber. It actually took effort not to start squealing like a four-year old who’s just been let loose in Candyland. No, I’m not exaggerating. 🙂 As a matter of fact, I felt so awesome that I decided to try a second twenty minute routine, Strength & Balance. Both routines challenged my strength, flexibility and endurance, but gently. I didn’t feel rushed and throughout the routines, the instructor offers helpful (non patronizing!) advice on how to modify the poses if you need to.

At this point, I feel positively amazing. Part of that is because I’m just proud of myself for doing it and even more proud that I was able to follow both routines the whole way through, something I wouldn’t have been able to do a few months ago. The cherry on top is that I physically feel better; my muscles are limber again and while they are still a bit sore, it’s at a much more manageable level.

Of course, as with any new exercise, the real test is still to come: how will I feel tomorrow and will I be able to get the same results consistently? I certainly hope so, but I’ll keep updating as I go along.

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