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.

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Grapeseed Oil Is Not Paleo

This has been an interesting week. I have made it my mission to do at least thirty minutes of activity a day so that I can get in better shape. Plus, I am hoping that doing this will get me out of the habit of hibernating during the summer. I used to not care if it was hot out, when I was a kid. Now, I can’t stand to be in the heat. But maybe if I try to be more active, try to get my kids outside more, that will help me get over that. There is a lot we can do outside, and perhaps I need to invest in some tank tops or something. That way I won’t feel as if I am dying every time I try to go outside and do something. Today I took the kids to the park. We played catch and the little one rode her bike. We went for a hike. I attempted to fly a kite but there really wasn’t enough wind. Plus I wasn’t feeling like running around trying to get the kite going. It was pretty warm out there. I don’t complain about the warm when I am taking my class outside to play, but when it is me outside on my time, I guess I’m complaining about it a lot. 

Earlier this week – Thursday, actually – I had a great yoga session. I was very proud of myself. Then on Friday on and off throughout the day my ankle was hurting. I didn’t connect the two until Saturday when I tried to do some more yoga. I tried to go into Upward Dog and I couldn’t do it because of my ankle. I’m not sure if I didn’t rotate my thighs right or if I just put too much pressure on my ankle, but I had to stop because I couldn’t put much pressure on my ankle like that. I tried to do a search about why my ankle would be hurting from doing that, but most of the posts I saw talked about back pain coming from doing Upward Dog wrong, not ankle pain. 

Saturday afternoon saw us at a gathering for my fiancé’s aunt’s 90th birthday party. I was a pretty cool gathering. I made sure that I ate before we went, but I didn’t eat a lot. There was NOTHING Paleo at the event, but since I had eaten I didn’t mind. I don’t get hung up on whether or not there is stuff for me to eat at events because not everyone eats how I do, especially here in the south. But when we left the event I was starving. We went to another the house of another aunt of his, and she had stuff for me to make a salad. She offered me grape seed oil and vinegar, and I gratefully took it. However, I found out pretty quickly that grape seed oil is not Paleo. That stuff was doing a number on my stomach. I looked it up yesterday, and grape seed oil is just as processed as canola and vegetable oil. It was good in a pinch, but I’m not sure I’ll ever try that again.

I don’t have any new recipes right now. I am still trying to get used to having time on my hands, since I’m not in school. It has been nice to be able to get out with the family and do things, and not be so stressed out that I don’t want to do anything. Taking some time out and re-evaluate where I am standing and what I want has been great, and I have come up with some new directions for myself. As far as this goes, Paleo is serving me well. Especially this past week when I have been increasing my vegetable intake and decreasing my protein intake. I have felt great! I think I feel a difference in how my clothes fit, too. 

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!

Paleo Shepards Pie

It has been amazing how much things have changed just in the past month. I am taking a much-needed break from business planning to pursue other interests that I have been neglecting in the process. One of those interests is this blog. I am also trying to be more consistent with my CrossFit workouts. And I have started taking classes in Gracie Jiu Jitsu with my fiance.

Listen to me! I talk a great game, but I promise you – the last CrossFit workout that I did was last weekend, and I was so sore ALL WEEK that I could barely walk. I was lucky to be able to get through my Jiu Jitsu class last night! Actually, it feels great to be active and not sitting on my butt so much. I guess that needs to be the next step in my journey. After a year of cooking and eating Paleo, I am very comfortable with it – even under stress. Getting myself off of the couch is the logical next step.

One thing that I am nervous about is overdoing it. It seems that every time that I start a new exercise program I overdo it and get sick. I did my CrossFit workout last weekend and was super tired and sore all week. I was okay through the week, trying to take it easy so that I could recover. It wasn’t until the end of  the week that I felt like I might be getting sick. In fact, this morning I feel it even more, and I had a Jiu Jitsu class last night. I guess I should just make sure that I get some rest this weekend.

On another note, I developed a Paleo modification of one of my favorite comfort foods: Shepards Pie. And boy, is it good! The only problem that I have had recently with it is getting the ratio of filling to mashed cauliflower correct. I’ve only made it twice so far and I haven’t quite gotten it right either time. But it is so good that I can’t keep from sharing it any more!

Paleo Shepards Pie

1 lb ground beef

One head cauliflower

butter or other oil (for mashed cauliflower)

1 yellow onion, diced

1 bell pepper, any color you want

1 yellow squash, diced

1/2 c mushrooms, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp oregano

salt & pepper to taste

3 bunches of fresh basil (I use the basil in the tube, about a quarter to a half of the tube)

Preheat the oven to 350.

First, chop up the cauliflower and steam it. You don’t want to steam the cauliflower for too long because if it is too wet it will not cover the pie effectively. Keep it firm but not too firm.

Next, cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. When it is almost browned, add the garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano. When it is completely browned, add the vegetables and the basil and cook until the vegetables are tender. While the vegetables are cooking, mash the cauliflower.

After the vegetables are done cooking, pour the meat and vegetables into a pie plate and spread the mashed cauliflower evenly on top. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Take it out and enjoy!

Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Wow, it has been a while! But then again, I told you that it would be. I have been busy trying to get my side business off the ground – so busy, in fact, that I am taking a little break from it to try to clear my head. It has been very great and very rewarding so far!

Luckily, throughout all the craziness, my Paleo lifestyle has remained intact. I always say that this is the easiest “diet” to stick to! It does have its moments, though. I went to my conference last month and did pretty well, except for lunch. I made the best choices that I could – the best choice probably would have been to bring something to have, but I decided not to go that far. It affected me a little bit, and before I was even over the effects of that, I made a couple of really poor choices at Red Robin when I was there for my teenager’s cast party for their production of Romeo and Juliet. I have just in the last 12 hours gotten over that, and that was two weeks ago! I should really know better – I have been an emotional wreck for these last three weeks (when you count the aftermath of the conference). I seriously think that if I ever stopped eating Paleo, the people around me would have something to say about it, simply because I am so crazy when I make the wrong choices.

My teenager seems to agree with me on that front. While she was doing the play, she had a hard time staying Paleo. She told me that she couldn’t wait until the play was over so that she could start eating better. She said that she felt less stressed and less emotional when she was eating Paleo, and she always seemed to be happy. Who would have thought that bread and grains, which are said to release serotonin when you eat them, could have such a negative effect on your mood?

She turned her grandparents on to Paleo when she stayed with them over the summer, and her grandmother went to Costco and bought me a huge supply of extra virgin, organic coconut oil. It has definitely been a change from the cheap stuff that I have been getting because it has a more coconut-y  aroma and flavor. It has taken some getting used to, but it is heavenly. I may have to get a membership to Costco to get some more, because I haven’t seen anything like that at Sam’s.

One of the reasons why I bring up the coconut oil is because it is a key element of this recipe. If you are using the cheap stuff, then you have nothing to worry about. Usually mushroom cream sauce is made with butter and heavy cream, and I have made it many, many times. My fiance loves the stuff. I thought I was out of luck until a lightbulb went off in my head this past week and I realized that I could use coconut oil and coconut milk. However, since I am using really good coconut oil, the mushroom cream sauce comes out tasting a little coconut-y. Not a problem for me, the coconut freak. But some people may be turned off by it. So keep that in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind: I do not know how long to tell you to cook the sauce. When cooking it, the oil and milk will start to meld, and then it will condense and get a little thicker. Beyond that point, the oil and the milk begin to separate again and it actually starts to look quite nasty. I have kind of figured out where that line is, but I can’t give you a set amount of time before that happens. I had to learn about that as I went.

Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

4 or 6 chicken breasts

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup coconut milk

 

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat and then cook the chicken breasts in the oil until they are tender and there is no longer any pink. Make sure you turn them occasionally so that they will brown on both sides.

When the chicken is done cooking, take them out of the pan and add the mushrooms to the remaining oil. Cook and stir them for a few minutes (the longer you cook them, the more mushroom flavor your sauce will have). After the mushrooms are soft, stir in the coconut milk and boil, stirring to mix the brown bits off of the bottom of the skillet. Boil for about three minutes, until thickened. Spoon (or pour!) the sauce and mushrooms over the chicken and enjoy!

Getting the Family Involved

Today is a proud day in our Paleo household. First of all, my fiance has been eating cleaner for a couple of weeks now. He has already talked about how much better he feels, and his blood sugar has stabilized. Second, my teenage daughter went with me to CrossFit on Friday and Saturday. She seems to really enjoy it, because when my fiance asked me when we were going back and I said Monday or Tuesday, she said, “Oh please, Monday!” But the greatest shocker to me came as we were leaving the gym on Friday and she said that she wanted to start my diet.

It took nine months, and I never thought it would happen, but it happened.

She has been rather disappointed about some of the items that she has found out that she will have to give up, but I am working with her to try to find substitutes for those things. After all, when your teenager tells you that she wants to eat healthier, you had better try hard to move heaven and earth to help her be successful! She eats barbecue sauce on everything, so that is probably the first thing I am going to try to figure out. She even tried a piece of sauteed onion with her dinner this evening!

With the teenager on board, and with our new focus on fitness and being healthy, I have also started taking steps to wean my younger daughter off of the constant cereal, granola bars, sandwiches, and chicken nuggets that she has been consuming. I already know that the hardest thing to deal with will be the cereal – I am hoping to get her to try some eggs later in the week. We found some frozen rotisserie chicken wings at Sam’s Club. They aren’t totally Paleo, but they are a gigantic step toward getting away from the breaded chicken nuggets that she has been eating. She had some for dinner this evening and she really liked them. She has been snacking on more fruit, and is eating more salads with her meals instead of the sides that she was eating before.

I am one proud mama right now. I really didn’t think that this day would come, but here it is, and I am loving every minute of it. I love sharing CrossFit with my daughter, and I am really going to enjoy teaching her how to eat healthier. I think that the experience has already brought us closer together, and I am very glad of that.

Where is My Focus Directed?

I came to a very interesting realization during the past week: I am finally content with my body. I don’t feel like a bloated, overgrown, tomato-shaped, nasty, tired, worn-out individual any more. I am proud of the clothes that I can fit into and am happy that simply being doesn’t make me tired any more. Trust me, all of these feelings were ones that propelled me into the nightmare that was my dieting life. And eventually had me find my way to Paleo. I feel like I can do and be now.

This is a big thing, especially with all of the stress that I have encountered over the past month. But it also made me realize that I needed to reassess my goals. See, my primary goal when I started doing Paleo was weight loss. I have accomplished that goal to the point where I am satisfied. But I don’t feel fulfilled yet. I have things that I have always wanted to do that I am still not able to do, even with my amazing weight loss. I want to do kickboxing and MMA style fighting (yes, I have a secret desire to be Jason Bourne). I want to be able to do a hand stand like all of the CrossFitters that I am absolutely jealous of, especially since my CrossFitting wipeout back in February. I want to be able to do CrossFit regularly with a passion that exceeds even my understanding.

So I think that I need a change in focus. Weight loss is all well and good, but I’m not even weighing myself any more – it is hard to keep that focus now since I stopped doing that. But stopping the constant weighing was one of the best things that I have ever done for myself in this journey. It is definitely time for a different focus.

I guess with all of the fitness-related desires that I have, the next step would be to focus on fitness. There are so many contradictory stories about fitness and what fitness is, but luckily, I have a place to start. I have been singing praises of EP LifeFit since I joined, but I haven’t really done much with it. I think that spending time on the forum of the website has actually hurt me rather than helped. I am the type of person that doesn’t need five people giving me their personal opinions about everything that I have been trying to do. While it has bee helpful in some cases, it has also been a hindrance because I have posted something that has been working for me and when I do, I have five people coming around to tell me that I am doing it wrong. HELLO? One of the aspects that I have always liked about Paleo is the fact that everyone does it differently – they do it how it suits them and they do what works for them, and if it doesn’t work for you then don’t do it. So it really sucks to be posting about what I am doing and what has been working, only to be shut down and told that I am not supposed to be doing that.

Take coconut shakes, for example. I have LOVED my coconut shakes. Strawberry and almond butter was my favorite. I posted on the forum about my love of my coconut shakes and one of the girls posted that we aren’t supposed to be drinking coconut shakes because they can spike insulin levels and will make it harder to lose weight. So guess what…I stopped drinking the shakes, and I stopped posting on the forum. That was a buzz kill for me. And I miss my shakes. They were my sweet treat! I needed a sweet treat every now and then! Even my coworkers commented on my shakes because they know that I can’t have sugar – they said that I finally found something to calm my sweet tooth (not that I really have one any more). But I don’t have to give up my shakes! I am happy with how I have been doing things – I have found things that work! Why am I listening to someone who does not know my journey and does not have the same goals as me, even though they may be trying to help? I know what works for me and what my body needs, and I know where my focus is.

At least, now I know where my focus is.

I need to stay off the forum. It has become detrimental to my personal journey. I need to focus on that journey and focus on the beginner workouts that EP LifeFit has posted, because starting those workouts is what is going to help me get in the shape that I need to be in to be able to accomplish my fitness goals. And those goals are going to be the focus of the next leg of my Paleo journey, because the journey isn’t over. I have just made a new commitment to clean my diet back up after the move so that I will have the energy to tackle my new fitness goal. My energy levels have been in the tank for the past month, what with all of the stress and everything here lately. But by giving myself direction, I am hoping to alleviate some of that stress and be better able to focus on what I want to do with myself, as well as getting my energy levels back up.

I love this journey. And I love being able to come on here and rant and rave about it, and have my five loyal readers like what I have ranted and raved about. You guys inspire me to keep going and keep pushing, because I know that I am not alone. Thank you for your support!