Going Ketogenic – Week One

Wow, it has been a year since I posted on this blog. I have had a busy year for sure, but I’m back for this post, mostly because I am going through some changes in my diet and I wanted to share them. I have been eating Paleo for four years now, I believe, and it is working very well for me. I still love it, and I wouldn’t change it. However, after my initial amazing weight loss of 50 pounds, the weight loss just stalled, never to get back on track again. And honestly I was too stressed and worried about so many things to even worry about it anyway. I even stopped going to the gym and canceled my gym membership because I was so stressed.

Since then I have started a new job at an amazing place, stopped working on my side business, and generally just tried to add some simplicity to my life. I feel much better and much less stressed. But I’m noticing a really bad trend. In the first two years that I was eating Paleo my weight stayed pretty constant. During the second two years my weight has been steadily creeping upward, until now I am almost at the same weight that I was when I started – but I’m still eating Paleo. That is troubling, but nothing that can’t be corrected. I was flipping through my Instagram feed one day this past week and I ran into an ad for an app called LifeSum, which can track food for you for several different types of diets. The ketogenic diet is one of the diets that it tracks. I have always wanted to try a ketogenic diet but I have never found a tool that can help me track my macros like that, so I decided to give it a try.

Well, I have to admit, I love this app. It lets me track my water and all of my food, tells me how many grams of each macro-nutrient I have left for the day, and even does calculations based on any exercise that I do for the day. It is amazing. I do have to say, too, that I am not getting paid to say this. They wouldn’t even pay me anyway, since my two readers wouldn’t amount to much to them! (But I love you guys for sticking around through the dry spells!)

So, my results so far: The only reason why I stepped on a scale when I found the app was to give me a baseline to work with. I don’t weigh myself as a general rule, especially with the eating issues and body insecurity that I have had in the past. I don’t want to do anything to go through that again. So I am going to weigh once a month. However, I have already noticed a difference in how my clothes are fitting, but that is probably just water weight dropping anyway. A lot of the websites that I looked at to research this said that water would be the first thing to go as your body gets used to processing fat instead of carbs for energy. I got some Ketostix to use to test and I was doing pretty good until this morning. I don’t know what happened with that, but I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough. I’m sleeping better already and waking up less during the night. I had a little bit of carb flu on day three, which surprised me since I don’t eat bread or anything. I guess you can eat too many carbs no matter what you eat. Anyway, I am in this for the long haul since I love the app so much, I need to not grow out of these jeans, and I paid for a three month subscription in order to be able to track this diet. Yes, you do have to pay in order to track the Keto diet on the app. You can track the standard diet for free, but who wants to go back to that? Not me! I will never stop eating Paleo, and I love the fact that I don’t have to track calories on this diet – I simply have to figure out how to eat enough fat.

I’ll try to keep you posted on the rest of my progress. I’m looking forward to this journey.

Eureka! at the Farmer’s Market

So let me tell you how my week went. First, I bought a bike. I’m still super excited about it, but I haven’t really had many chances to ride it yet. Except for today. And the weather was gorgeous. But I didn’t ride. I have been pretty tired today, probably from all of the walking we did when we went to the Biltmore Estate for our vacation trip. It was pretty fun. That house is amazing! Oh, did I say house? I meant mansion! I couldn’t even imagine all of the work it would take to keep up that place if you were living in it.

So since we were out of town, my eating was a little shaky. Usually I stress and stress about it, but this time I didn’t. I have learned by now that I can usually find something to eat almost anywhere that won’t have grains in it – my one big rival. And while I am sensitive to sugar, I can tolerate it better than grains.

I did pretty good. I think the high amount of sugar I ate is probably a contributing factor to why I am so tired today, but in a few days that will be gone. I am planning on getting out and riding tomorrow, since it is my last vacation day, and enjoying some of this beautiful weather. Watch – now that I’ve said that, it will be hot and rainy tomorrow and I won’t be able to go anywhere on my bike. Yes, I know that bikes still work in the rain. I haven’t gotten that gung-ho about it yet.

I made my weekly trip to the farmer’s market today to get some vegetables and eggs. I have been searching for convenient place to get pasture eggs for a while now. What I mean by pasture eggs is that the owners let the chickens run around outside and eat bugs and worms and other things that are healthy for them, rather than keeping them in a building and feeding them grain all day. Now that we have been eating Paleo for some time, we are getting more concerned about the quality of the food that we are eating. I do a lot of shopping at the farmer’s market, and I can’t wait until more vegetables are in season. Right now strawberries are in season, and I have really been enjoying them with a spoonful of cashew butter.

My fiance (Clint) and I watched the documentary Food, Inc. about a month ago, and it was very eye opening. It talked about how different animals are treated when they are raised for food by corporations like Tyson. It also discussed how there really are only a handful of companies that control the vast amounts of brands that we have available to us in the store, and how they are shifting some of their products in order to sell them in the middle of the organic and all-natural food craze that we are finding ourselves in the middle of them. I personally don’t trust them to create anything all natural. Even if something says “all natural” on the label I still read the ingredients, and nine times out of ten there will be something in that item that doesn’t pass my strict standards. After watching the documentary I wasn’t happy with organic eggs or cage-free eggs, because when you think about it, those words could mean anything. The chickens that we saw in the documentary weren’t in cages, but they rarely – if ever – saw sunlight and were so crowded in the buildings that they were in that they couldn’t possibly get any exercise. They were fed grain from who knows where, most of the time treated with antibiotics to keep the chickens from getting sick in their cramped conditions. I know one thing – I don’t want my eggs to be from chickens that are raised like that.

So I was super-excited when I found this woman at the farmer’s market selling pasture-raised eggs, and she has pasture-raised beef and chicken too! And she’s local! Clint and I are very passionate about supporting local businesses, so I am sure that we are going to be doing more business with this woman in the future.

I joined a Paleo-themed group on Facebook this week. The people in this group like to post pictures of what they are eating. I don’t think I could make it posting pictures for this group. Each plate that I see has a little portion of meat, a little portion of vegetables, and a little portion of some sort of fat. I am looking at these pictures thinking “there is no way that I could survive eating that little amount of food!” Maybe that is why I haven’t lost any more weight than I have. I don’t know. I do know that when I took my health class for school we had to track our calories for a week and my calories were spot-on every day without me even trying or tweaking anything. But I look at those pictures and the small amounts of food, and then I look at what I am eating every day and I think, “Am I doing something wrong?” Apparently no one in the Paleo community eats quite as much food as I do. Or at least, the ones on that particular page don’t. And when I make an honest effort to get in the exercise that I should, I get hungrier, which means that I eat even more! I have thought about trying to cut the amount of protein that I am eating down and adding more fat and vegetables, because I am pretty sure that I am eating too much meat. But those pictures make me seriously wonder if I am missing something or if I am doing something wrong.

I want to get back into my yoga more seriously, too. I cut way back when school got hectic, so I haven’t really made any progress. I am looking forward to giving that more of my time this week. I’ll let you know how it goes! Right now I need to go check on the pulled pork that I put in the crock pot this morning!

I’m Really Here! And I’ve Made Buffalo Chicken Wings!

Wow, I haven’t posted since JanuaryUnbelievable! But I have a few good reasons…

We finally moved. In February. We are back in town, not too far from where my fiance works and my children go to school. It has been an amazing transition and a wonderful release of stress. My kids have been doing a lot better with school since we moved, and things seem to have calmed down for me, as far as being an emotional basket-case. I’ve had more time to do other things recently, like go back to school. I will have my degree in a year – finally!

So with this extra time, you would think that I would be able to come up with new recipes and post them, right? Well, that hasn’t exactly happened, if you can’t tell. I’ve been insanely busy with work, and school has taken some time (obviously). But I have had some time to try some new recipes and experiment a little bit. I haven’t really been too focused on experimenting in the kitchen lately; my job and schooling has had to take priority over that lately.

The chicken wing recipe that I have found is really easy. The first time I made it, my family killed the entire pan of chicken wings in about thirty minutes, and I have been getting the industrial-sized packs of chicken wings from Sam’s Club. I haven’t been using the small chicken wings, either. I’ve been getting the big Tyson packs of chicken wings. I have thought about using the smaller chicken wings, but the family really likes the crunchiness of the skin on the bigger chicken wings after I cook them, and I really do, too. Yesterday I made two batches: one that was more crunchy than the other. The crunchier skin won out during the taste test.

I found the sauce at Wal-Mart, which was great since we now have a Wal-Mart about two blocks away from us. Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Sauce is awesome! I was a little concerned about it at first, because it has butter flavoring in it, and I try really hard to stay away from artificial flavorings. But we needed a change in this house because we were eating the same foods over and over again! So we decided to give it a shot and see what happened. And the result was great!

So here is the recipe for the Buffalo Chicken Wings:

1 package of chicken wings (if you use the smaller wings, follow the cooking directions on the bottle of Frank’s)

1 bottle of Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Sauce

1 Ziploc bag to toss the wings

Preheat oven to 425. Place the chicken wings in the Ziploc bag and pour sauce liberally over them. Close the bag and toss the wings to coat with the sauce. Put the sauce-coated wings on a baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes. When there are about 15 minutes left of the cooking time, take the wings out and apply another coat of sauce to them. Place them back in the oven to finish cooking.

Enjoy!

Fried Tilapia – Skip The W(h)ine If You Want To!

I am in pain. A lot of pain. I have been going to the gym now two or three times a week since my last post, doing my running app and lifting weights. Coming home and doing my squats so that I can have a nice looking backside for the first time in my life. Thursday night it snowed, so I ramped up my running workout and cut the weights out so that I could get home before the roads got too bad. Yesterday I decided to pull out the stops on my workout to make up for it. I also switched from running on the treadmill to running on the elliptical because my ankles were complaining about Thursday’s workout. That elliptical is no joke. I’ve used one before because I prefer not having the high impact on my poor weak ankles, but I’d forgotten just how serious of a workout it was. I was sweating through the very same Couch to 5K workout that I had done on Thursday on the treadmill without breaking a sweat. And it was nice. I may have to continue to use those ellipticals.

So back to the pain. I’m just sore – I haven’t overdone it or pulled anything yet. Although when my ankle started complaining on Friday I got concerned. I haven’t felt my poor ankles complain like that since junior high! But I will tell you – getting back in shape takes commitment because I have been nothing but sore and tired for two weeks now. I’m not complaining, because I have been enjoying the workouts. When I get off work, I swear that I am not going to go to the gym because I am so tired, but by the time I get there I am psyched to start my workout. And I feel like a million bucks when I am done. It has been great to go to the gym and work out all of the stress that I have accumulated. Hopefully I am a much more pleasant person to be around because of it. You’d have to ask everyone else, because I am around myself all the time, and I wouldn’t know.

Another thing that this has allowed me to do is take a look at my priorities. Actually I am not sure that is how I would word it. It may be more like growing a backbone. Any way you word it, I have been trying to identify pieces of my life that I am not happy with and trying to figure out how to change it or make it better. Simplifying. Talking to the people involved and figuring out how to change things. I am not a big talker. I tend to wait until I am about to lose my mind before I say anything. When you are tired and sore, you tend to lose your mind quicker, so talking becomes a priority. People tend to react negatively when you lose your mind.

You must be looking at the title of this post and thinking,”Okay, she has really lost it. Fried stuff? Yeah, that’s what I thought at first, too. I have been fixing tilapia the same way for a long time, and it has gotten really, really old. To the point that I would refuse to fix it. So my wonderful fiancé recommended getting some almond meal and using it on the fish to fry it or bake it. Well, if I am going to use almond meal, I want to fry it. Fried fish is just awesome. Fried anything is awesome! (Can you tell that the workouts are making me extremely hungry as well?) I have been a huge fan of the Whole 30 program, and they recommend not Paleo-fying unhealthy recipes because it could cause bad habits. I am definitely not going to start posting Paleo brownies or cookies because I really do think that would be unfair to my brain, but the fried fish was a much needed, very awesome change. And the clean-up was amazing, too! Almond meal doesn’t get all gummy and nasty in the pan like flour does when you fry it, so the clean-up was not a nightmare like I expected it to be.

I haven’t hit on a spice mixture that I like yet, in amounts that I like. I tend to like my food on the spicy side – I like to taste the flavors – so I am still working on that. In my first batch of fish I used garlic powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes. In fact, this is the recipe that I used for my first batch. I will work on tweaking the amounts or using different spices to suit my tastes, but this recipe was a much welcome change from the way that I have normally been cooking tilapia. I also used coconut oil instead of olive oil because I heard that it works better at higher temperatures, and I hate the smell of olive oil when it gets hot.

Hope you enjoy it! And thanks to Cavemom Chronicles for the inspiration. And to my fiancé, of course!

Lessons Learned – A New Year Do-Over

Yes, I wussed out again. Remember when I told you about the girl that I work with who does CrossFit? And how excited I was about it? And how I was going to renew my focus on being able to do CrossFit in the new year? That was great, and a great feeling, but great feelings can’t get you through a workout. As some of you know, I have been doing CrossFit workouts at home for about six months now, although not all that consistently. The day after I posted that post, I looked up the workout for CrossFit Greensboro. It was a Saturday, and I was pumped.

Until I saw the workout: 800 m run? How far is 800 meters?

I pulled out Google and looked it up. And my heart sank: 800 meters is roughly half a mile.

Now, I’ve never been all that big into running. I have several family members who do the long distance running thing, and I have sat back in awe that anyone can do that, while secretly wishing that I could do it too. My second foray into a CrossFit gym had me walk out of the gym, completely worn out, after a half mile run. And that was just the warm up that day! I just don’t have the stamina and endurance to do it. Let’s face it – I’ve been sitting on the couch for seven years now. Stamina and endurance have a tendency to disappear when you do that.

Of course, there was more to the workout, and I considered dropping the running part and just doing the rest. 50 pull ups, 100 push ups, 150 squats. Oh, and then we were supposed to run another 800 m.

I debated dropping the running and doing the rest. I debated riding down the road to this gravel track nearby, doing the running, coming home to do the rest, and driving back out there to do the second run. I weighed it all. And then I stopped and got completely honest with myself. Do I really want to walk into a gym where they expect you to do these kind of runs every now and then, knowing full well that I simply can’t do it? One of the reasons why I walked out of the gym the last time was because I was so completely embarrassed by my performance. Do I want to put myself through that again? Is it worth it?

I weighed it all week, although not entirely seriously. I talked to the girl and told her that I planned on coming. I worked the cost into my budget. I stopped thinking about it. And then I talked to another friend of mine who I used to go to a different gym with. She told me how much I had inspired her to get busy in the gym. She’s been going all year. She hasn’t gotten hung up on what gym to go to and what workout to do. She has simply been going and getting it done.

I went to my old gym with her yesterday, and I have to say that I have missed it. I downloaded the “Couch to 5K” app on my phone so that I can work on my running, stamina, and endurance in a place where I won’t feel intimidated and embarrassed. I did my first workout with it yesterday, and it was really all that I needed. A structured running workout that I can restructure to my pace, because even that workout will get to be too much for me in about a week. And this morning I did some squats, and you know what? I realized that I don’t need a CrossFit gym to do this. I can tell that I am doing the squats right now. I am getting better at it. I have been working on my squats for an entire year on my own, and I am conquering them on my own. It took a while, but when I noticed that my center of gravity was different going down into the squat than it used to be and that I was getting lower into the squat than I used to, I was so proud of myself. Because I did that all by myself. Shoot, I’m getting choked up just writing about it, because that has been my goal for an entire year, and this morning I knew that I had reached it.

I told my friend yesterday that she ended up inspiring me just as much as I inspired her. I need to quit trying to make this so hard and just get out there and do what I can do. Every trip to the gym is a victory, and when a milestone is reached like the one I reached this morning, it is an even bigger victory. There are ways that I can identify goals that I want to reach, but I don’t need the name and the big, expensive gym to reach them. I just need patience and dedication. And I have shown myself that I really do have that. I told my fiancé yesterday about my friend saying how much I inspired her, and I asked him why it has been so hard for me to inspire myself. Well, now I see how that works, and I see the bigger picture.

A New Year – And Remastered Chili

Well, I’m already slacking. I usually get in a year-end reflection before the new year begins, but I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Seriously, I plan on kicking 2013’s butt so I guess I was trying to get a head start. Hopefully this post will make up for it.

I’m not big on resolutions, but I feel like this is the year to make some commitments. After all, I am seriously beginning to connect with the knowledge that I am going to continue to be in bad shape if I don’t exercise, Paleo or not. Plus with what I do at my day job and my side business, I seriously need an outlet of some sort. That was made perfectly clear in 2012.

The reason why I do not like making resolutions is because I do not enjoy feeling like a failure. If I resolve to do something, and then it doesn’t happen, what progress have I really made? If I feel like a failure, how much harder is it going to be to try again later?

So I am just going to say that I am going to try to give CrossFit another shot. A do-over. And I have a buddy to do it with, so that may help me be more successful and not feel so intimidated by the big gym with all the strong people. Maybe I will stick with it for more than a week. Maybe I will hang for two this time! That was a joke – I’d really like to stick with it longer than that. I really want to chronicle the journey as well, and see where my mindset has gone.

On another note, I received my end-of-year summary from WordPress, and it seems that you people really like recipes. In fact, I would almost dare to say that one of the only reasons you visit me is for my food. I was holding out hope that it was for my incredible writing skills or my unbelievable wit, but I’m starting to take the hint. So I will give you what you want. At least today. You know how inconsistent I am when it comes to this blog.

You may remember a few weeks ago when I said that I was retooling the Best Chili Ever recipe, trying to find a way to make the chili without so many tomatoes. When I said that, the chili was actually cooking, and I did not feel right about posting a recipe before I knew what it tasted like.

It was Awesome! So here it is:

The Best Chili Ever: Remastered

2 pounds ground beef
1pound ground pork (or bulk Italian sausage for more flavor)
1.5 pounds stew beef
1 large onion, minced
1 can diced tomatoes and green chilis
2 poblano peppers, minced
4 Anaheim peppers, minced
1 small can Herdez salsa verde
2 cups beef broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
3tbsp ground cumin
3 – 4 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp oregano

Brown the stew meat in a couple of tsp of coconut oil on very high heat. Remove the meat from the pan and put the diced onion into the pan, and cook until opaque. Add the beef broth and let cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the ground beef and pork (or sausage) and cook until the meat is browned. Place all of the meat (including the stew meat), spices, peppers, salsa verde, garlic, and tomatoes and chilies, into a pot and simmer over medium-low heat for no less than three hours. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes!

So Much To Tell You!

I really should post more, so that way I don’t have to tell you, my two loyal readers, a bunch of news all at the same time! I mean, it can get overwhelming, and I have a tendency toward forgetfulness about things that I want to remember to do or talk about.

But not this time.

Remember that end-of-the-year post I did that mentioned how certain food studies make more sense in the context of a Paleo lifestyle? Like drinking eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day. Impossible, right? Not on Paleo – I can’t get enough water when I’m eating clean! Well, on the Sunday before Christmas my family was opening presents with my fiancé’s dad and his family. His stepmother had gone through great pains to make deviled eggs for me that were Paleo (and they turned out quite good, actually), and she had some other Paleo-friendly foods available. She also cracked open a bottle of red wine.

Now, I’m not a big wine drinker. I’ve only had a couple of glasses in my entire life, but I have been curious to taste wine since starting Paleo to see if the flavor of it was any better than I remember it. I had a chance a month or so ago at another family function, but I passed it by. It doesn’t take much alcohol for me to start feeling it, and there were a lot more people there that I didn’t know very well. But at Christmas the atmosphere was a little more laid back, so I decided to try the wine. I wasn’t even sure if wine was Paleo or not, but I distinctly remember not caring too much at the time. (According to Rob Wolfe, red wine is Paleo if taken in moderation.) The wine was good, and I thought about having a second glass a couple of times, but decided against it. Now, I had heard before that red wine is an aphrodisiac, but I didn’t put too much stock in it. I mean, this is one of those stupid studies that we wonder why people spend money on, right? Well, without giving out TMI, I am here to say that it is true. So I guess the study was right after all.

Enough said about that. So how was your Christmas?

On a completely different note, I went in to work late today and I found a bunch of different kids of different ages napping in my room – a mostly unheard-of occurrence. One of the teachers of the older children was in my room, also, and she asked me about my diet. When she heard that I was doing Paleo, she got very excited because ….

She does CrossFit! At the first CrossFit gym that I tried! We had so much fun talking about CrossFit and talking about doing it together and…

I might start going to a box again – maybe even as early as next week!

I was so excited to hear that someone I knew was doing CrossFit, and so aggravated that I hadn’t learned this before, but I am extremely excited that I may have a CrossFit workout buddy! I just have to see if I have to do those introductory classes again, and then I will be good to go!

And in other news, I think that I owe you a recipe, but I am going to have to post that another time. Hey, I have to do an end-of-the-year post, so you’ll probably get it before the end of the year!