Friday, October 12, 2018

Zero Carb: A minimalist approach

Throughout the years, I have spent innumerable time, energy, and thought on health and wellness. I've gone through periods where I'm super tuned in and motivated as well as ones where I'm burnt out and in no mood to make the effort. Through all this, I have progressed along an all too common evolution of thought starting with the mainstream options like Weight Watchers and South Beach and then learning about ancestral and lower carb diets like Paleo and Keto.

Along the way, I've had varied levels of success in terms of weight regulation, resolution of health issues (like GERD, PMS, psoriasis, and headaches), mood stability, and energy levels. So much has resolved for me and I love being healthy and free from those problems that I'm sure would only have intensified with age had I not taken steps to correct my behavior.

And yet. The elephant in the room -- weight. Size. Body image. After all I've done, gone through, and grown, this still plagues me. I work hard to focus on all of the amazing non-scale related benefits but this issue haunts me, despite my best efforts not to care. It is frustrating to come so far but not "look the part". I know it shouldn't matter and my authority should not be tied to how I look, but yet...

This brings me to where I am now in my journey. Several years ago, I discovered an amazing blog, My Zero Carb Life. I was intrigued but not convinced that this step to zero plants was necessary (zero carb is a misnomer, it's really more about eliminating plant foods). But the seed was planted, no pun intended, and came back around to the forefront of my mind recently with a surge in interest in what is now being talked about as a "carnivore" diet.

Being near the end of my rope in my struggle to stay on track, I thought, what the heck? I've been on and off of this way of eating for the past few months, managing about 30-days at a stretch plant-free. I have to admit it does wonders for quieting down cravings but is seen as completely bonkers by most, so is hard to talk about in real life. The 100% elimination of all sweeteners (both caloric and noncaloric) is a huge benefit to me. The increase in protein is also great for my energy levels.

This plan on the face of it seems incredibly restrictive but has the counter-intuitive effect of being quite freeing. Cooking and planning my meals has never been more simple. Most days I throw burgers or steaks in a pan a couple times and call it good. Seriously. I rarely think much about food when I'm not eating, which is such a change for me.

That said, it hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows. I've had a few issues with gluten-free baking with Sammy 5 and had a few run-ins with chocolate. But all in all, this is the easiest plan I have ever tried. The weight issue is still up in the air -- I seem to go up and down without a clear trend as of yet. But, the other results have been so positive that I'm willing to stick it out and see how it goes from here.

Some great resources I've discovered include the Zeroing in on Health and Zero Carb Health Facebook groups, which I appreciate for the simplicity and consistency of their message. I also like the Carnivore Cast, and KETOMAD for podcast and YouTube inspiration. I plan to keep on learning more and settling in to this minimalist eating style to see where it takes me. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cute Baby Chronicles: Food

Cute Baby is now 18 months old! I thought I'd take this opportunity to talk about how we're handling food in our house.

We're generally following a philosophy called Baby Led Weaning, which starts bambinos off with solid food no earlier than 6 months old. And, instead of starting with cereals or purees, we started out with real food -- basically what we eat, just cut into pieces he could manipulate. It has been a hit with him from the start. He doesn't have much interest in pureed food or even those handy pouches that would make my life so much easier - ahem.

So far his favorite foods include, broccoli, tomatoes, hamburger, and chicken/beef/lamb on the bone. Yes, I'm serious. I was saying to my mother in law the other day that all of those foods were ones I ate copious amounts of while pregnant (and still do). Is there a connection? Who knows? He'll eat a cookie here or there but doesn't seem to give them much attention. This is amazing to me!

My main goal is to NOT pass on my own hang-ups and issues with food to him (as much as is possible). I want to offer mostly nutrient dense options and have him grow up thinking food is food: no need for special "kids meals" or anything. So far, he is taking to that like a champ. However, I do not want to give him a complex or restrict things. I feel like that only leads to dysfunction later. As a result, I'm not freaking out about animal crackers in the house, etc. He'll also be free to chose what he wants outside of the house as he gets older. Barring any food allergies (none so far), he will be in charge of what he eats. Our job as parents will be to provide lots of healthy options (and some fun ones, too), but it's his job to decide what goes in his mouth and how much.

We're not giving him juice because that adds way too much sugar to a kid's daily diet (in my opinion) but I'm also not going to not allow him to have it if someone offers it outside the house. It's not a "bad" food, it's just not an everyday at-home food. And he loves his milk. We buy organic whole milk and he's been enjoying that since he turned 12 months old. He still gets that in a bottle a few times a day, but otherwise uses a sippy cup/water bottle for water throughout the day.

Sometimes it doesn't seem like he's eating a lot and the mother hen in me gets worried. But, I remind myself that our bodies are smart and he'll eat what he needs as long as it's offered often enough. He certainly is growing on schedule -- boy that kid is solid!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fit by Forty (Keto) Month 1 Update

There is nothing like results to keep the motivation coming! My one month results are in and I'm down a total of 8.6 lbs since my birthday. Better yet, when noting my progress on a spreadsheet I keep, I realized that I'm actually down 19.6 lbs since my heaviest back in February 2016. Back then I did 6 weeks without sweetener to great success. Why did I stop? I have no idea.... Seems crazy now but life happens and the commitment just wasn't there at that time. I had a short term goal that I reached and then, I stopped. Such is life! Now, I'm in it to win it.

As I mentioned in my last post, the hardest part of all this was making the decision. Since then, I've felt so incredible that I can't even fathom why on Earth I'd ever change what I'm doing. I am still in awe of how few cravings I have. To not agonize and struggle to resist sweets is so fantastic. My energy levels are high -- I wake up feeling pretty good after about 7.5 hours sleep. I used to need a minimum of 8 hours to just feel somewhat OK and would often sleep over 9 hours and still feel groggy.

Getting food from Power Supply has been so wonderful. I've taken a break from my habit of Food as Hobby and put feeding myself more on autopilot. Don't get me wrong, I still cook but it's not the dominating activity of my days. Having ready made dishes on hand for myself has been so freeing.

I've also been binge-listening to the Primal Potential podcasts. I love Elizabeth's focus on mindset -- I truly believe that is where all the magic happens. Finding ways to be my own cheerleader and to believe can I really do this has been critical so far. I'm making my way through her archive in between my regular old friends: Keto Talk, 2 Keto Dudes, and the Ketoevagelist. Something Elizabeth says is that we need to line up our intention with our attention. Listening to podcasts throughout the days keeps my goals front and center and keeps my attention on what I really want.

Most importantly I've had nothing less than complete support from Cute Man, who has ridden the waves of all my healthy endeavors over the years. He never judges or interferes. Instead, he cheers me on and reminds me how much he cares about me, no matter what. I love you, Cute Man!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Operation Fit by Forty - Keto Edition

This is a big year for me. I just turned 39 and I'm looking down the road, right at 40. I've decided that it's high time to get my act together and become the healthy mama I've always dreamed of being.  I've come to realize that I have a true problem with sugar and all things sweet, whether they have calories or not. As a result, as of my birthday in late August, I have sworn off all sweeteners for the foreseeable future, most definitely until my next birthday. 
It is such a scary prospect, giving up something entirely. It's truly frightening to use the word, "never". That is, until I make the definitive decision. After that point, everything becomes easier. I did this with gluten years ago. It doesn't faze me to be around it - it's like it's not even food to me anymore. It's a hard NO so I don't have to expend any willpower to resist it. It's not a decision I need to make. That decision was made long ago and now all I have to do is follow through. 

I recently realized that I never made that hard and fast decision in regard to sugar and certainly not no-calorie sweeteners. I thought the latter was just fine as long as I stuck to the "better" ones like stevia. That always left the door open to some - but how much? Trying to moderate this, did take up my willpower, and keeping my taste for all things sweet with noncaloric sweeteners induced me to want the real thing not too much later. 

In my efforts to support my decision, I'm adding some tools: 

Never Binge Again: This book gave me permission to just say no to sweeteners and that it's OK to put things on the never list. I also now know that all those feable objections are all coming from my inner "Pig" who just wants to eat and eat whatever she wants, regardless of the consequences. 

Keto Coaching: I've been doing email coaching with Katrina. She has an incredible story and is inspiring me to stay the course! It is great having someone to check in with. 

Power Supply: I've wanted to try this meal service for a long time. I've decided to go this route after doing Sunbasket for a time (similar to Blue Apron but all organic and Paleo is an option). For a similar cost, the meals are already prepared and I don't have to pay any shipping because I pick food up at a local drop location. I'm not doing this for all my meals, just for work lunches and as a fill-in for those times I'd otherwise be tempted to order take-out or eat something quick and easy, but not particularly satisfying. It will also add a bit more variety into my diet. I've gotten stuck in a rut lately and I don't seem to have the gumption to get super creative in the kitchen myself right now. Sometimes, I just wish there was something already there and ready to go. And now there will be! I start on Thursday and I'm super excited. My referral code is LMQM, if you want to try it out, too. 

Since going completely off sweeteners two weeks ago, I've seen my appetite lessen and all my cravings disappear. It is an amazing thing! And it's getting me results: I've seen 5 lbs go on the scale. That of course is not the end all be all, but it is an encouraging sign. My ultimate goal is to be 50-75 lbs down this time next year. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Adventures in Gestational Diabetes Testing

I needed a hug!
It has recently become standard practice to test every pregnant woman for gestational diabetes (GD) somewhere between 24-28 weeks along. There are many good things about this, mostly because once identified, there are real tangible things one can do to prevent the associated complications, often only with changes in diet and lifestyle.

My objection, personally, only came up to the method of testing. In an effort to make the process uniform, they use a glucose solution called Glucola to give you a set amount of sugar. The first screening test involves drinking the solution (50g of glucose from dextrose/corn sugar) within 5 minutes, waiting an hour, and then having blood drawn to test glucose levels. If your levels are high for this (over 140), you go on to do a similar procedure with 100g solution. This time, you have to come in fasted, have blood drawn, drink the solution, and get tested each hour for 3 hours. If any two of your values are considered high, you are officially diagnosed as having GD.

I get why this would be a very convenient and standardized way to do this for the medical community. You can compare data across populations and have very clear procedures. However, as an individual patient with my own needs, concerns, and medical history, this procedure was not in my best interest. As someone who has followed a whole foods based diet low in processed sugar and grains for several years (four now), I know that my body does not handle those things well at all. And I'm not alone in this. I am in no way perfect with my eating, but I do eat far less than the average amount of refined sugar. As a result, my system isn’t used to having to deal with large doses of glucose all at once and takes a bit longer to clear such occasional occurrences. I don’t believe this to be a pathological state or any problem for my overall health. Ironically, if I was eating an unhealthy diet of processed food, my body would probably be better equipped to deal with the sugar load, in the short term. The problem with this, though, is that over time my system would get worn out from such a taxing business and that is how Type 2 diabetes develops. You basically get burned out. With my former habits and family history, I know that would have inevitably been my fate, had I not changed my ways.

So back to this whole GD thing. I was pretty sure I was going to fail that test. I talked with my doctor about an alternative – what *I* care about is how *my* body is handling the actual food I eat every day, not how I handle a glass of flat sugary soda I’d never drink willingly in a million years. I bought a blood glucose meter and told her I’d be willing to test my sugars 4 times a day for a couple weeks to see how my body was handling what I actually eat. No dice. I was told I must do the glucose tolerance test. I know in theory that all health procedures are, in the end, up to the patient and that no one could force me to do anything. But that’s not how it feels. It felt like I had no choice, no options. I debated what to do and finally decided just to do the initial screening test. I have to say that I felt very pressured and uncomfortable with the whole thing.

And… I failed the screening test. Of course. This left me staring at the next step of the 3 hour test, which would be quite unpleasant. Try telling a pregnant lady she can’t eat anything when she gets up, has to make it to the lab, drink sugar, and sit for 3 hours – and get 4 blood draws. Women do this all the time and I am so sorry for that. That sounds like a lousy day. Couple that with how large amounts of sugar make me feel (exhausted, light headed, sometimes nauseated) and that just is not something I wanted to do. All so they could tell me I have GD based on completely abnormal behavior *for me*.

I should say that I don’t fear having to test blood sugar or monitoring it on my own at all. I certainly don’t fear the diet and lifestyle recommendations they’d give me (ironically to basically eat how I normally do and exercise). What I fear is a needless diagnosis on my medical history that would open me up for additional interventions and higher probability for things like being induced or even a C-section. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any of those things are bad, they’re just overused and not optimal, if they can be safely avoided. I do not want to be classified high risk if my actual lifestyle, behavior, and health do not warrant it.

As a result, I started testing my blood sugar (BS) 4 times a day – fasting (goal of 95 or less) and 2 hours after meals (120 or less). I did that for a couple days between failing the screening test and seeing my doctor. (All but one of the values was in range – the outlier? The night I had gluten free pizza, a processed food that I eat occasionally – proving that I do not handle processed food well). I did this to show her not only that my numbers were fine based on what I actually eat, but also that I’m willing to be proactive about my health. Refusing the 3 hour test (which is what I went in to the appointment determined to do), was not about putting my head in the sand and pretending I don’t have a problem that might harm my baby. It was about individualizing my care and making sure I’m not treated for a disease I do not have.

It was an uncomfortable appointment and it was upsetting to me that the doctor was most concerned about checking things off her list – she just couldn’t fathom not doing B after A (if you fail the one hour, you do the three hour test). She barely looked at my BS numbers and food diary or even commented on the fact that they were almost all perfect, which would be impossible for anyone with gestational diabetes that wasn’t already being treated. I finally just had to say, “I’m not going to do it” – as an emphatic statement regarding the 3 hour test. Multiple times she threatened that I’d have to test my BS 4 times a day for the rest of my pregnancy, as if that was the worst thing in the world (people with GS do this, of course). Every time she said that, I just replied that would be fine with me. I love data and the info is very interesting to me, in any case.

In the end, she wrapped her head around the fact that I wasn’t going to budge and agreed to treat me like a gestational diabetic, in terms of monitoring BS, education, etc. but hold off on any official diagnosis until such time that I demonstrated that my numbers were not staying in range. This, was all I wanted. It was hard won, but totally worth it.

Coincidentally, my doctor is also expecting a baby so I will have to switch providers soon anyway. I will be asking about how the next one feels about this plan of action first thing!

The info I’m getting from testing has already been so enlightening. Knowing that pizza is not my friend (is anyone surprised?) is good to know since it is something I indulge in every so often. I’m going to test after making my own crust at home from this Paleo Spirit recipe which I love, to see if I tolerate that. If not, I will just avoid it, but it’s good to know either way. Another cool thing I’ve noticed is that putting maple syrup, honey, or dates in hot cocoa, tea, and protein shakes does not spike my BS at all. I don’t use a lot at any given time, but still, it’s good to know that I don’t have to go down to very low carb, something I was avoiding during pregnancy. Brown rice is fine, too. I will check on potatoes and sweet potatoes as they come up in my diet. I’ve had a few apples and a banana at one point, none of which pushed me over, either.

Overall, this has been a really interesting experience. It was frustrating to feel so misunderstood about something so important to my health and our little Cute Baby. I’m sure it won’t be the last time I’ll have to stand up for what should be common sense in this Bizarro world of ours. Personally, I hate confrontation and dealing with this was super tough on me. I definitely don’t do any of this lightly. For me, drinking something not-optimal once or twice isn’t the issue or a big deal. We are resilient beings, thank goodness. But, I don’t think it’s crazy to want to avoid all the potential downstream effects. So in the end, I’m glad I bothered to take a stand and I hope this might just make it a little bit easier on the next crazy lady who doesn’t want to drink the Kool-Aid Glucola.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cute Baby Chronicles: Heading into the Third Trimester

Back in August, 40 weeks seemed like an eternity and waiting until we felt OK sharing the news was excruciating. But now it's suddenly February and I'm staring at the 28 week mark coming on on Tuesday. That will put us into the THIRD TRIMESTER, as in the final one. To think, we have 2/3 of this process under our belt already (no pun intended!)

I'm starting to feel like a "real" pregnant lady. The belly is now pretty obvious and I feel a ton of movement which never ceases to amaze me each and every time. There is actually a little mini human in there!

It's not all unicorns and rainbows, of course. My body is starting to feel the pressure of this additional responsibility. The last couple weeks have spawned the onset of sore feet and wrists, pelvic and lower back pain, and some sleep disturbances. But on the whole, I am feeling pretty great, grateful, and just over the moon to be blessed with this experience. I try my best to focus on all the positive and address any concerns proactively instead of just complaining. Cute Man is pretty empathetic and helpful when I do have to get a bit of that off my chest :)

To help me feel my best, I've started going for prenatal massage, which is heavenly and should be mandatory for all pregnant women. I'm also looking into going to a chiropractor to help with the pelvic pain, which is not fun at all. I'm doing a bit of yoga at work and a 4 week prenatal series with the teacher of the fertility workshop I did last summer. 4 of us are now preggo and it's so nice to be in a class with them again. My wrists can't seem to take any weight, so I'm modifying a lot, but it's still worth it and extremely relaxing. It just feels good to move!

I'm excited to be going to Ikea this weekend with Cute Man to scope out nursery furniture. We're not quite ready to buy anything yet, so it'll be more of an exploratory trip. Cute Man may have to strap my hands to my sides, though, to stop me from buying up all the adorableness. I'm pretty proud of my restraint so far. I have yet to buy much of anything baby related. I guess I'm afraid that it could break some sort of seal and open the floodgates of spending that I can't stop. So far, so good. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cute Baby Chronicles: Catching up

Written on December 18, 2014...

After the initial surge of excitement which I didn't feel OK to share right away (so frustrating!) I stopped writing altogether. I'm not sure why, but I guess I was just trying to stay in the moment and experience everything as opposed to focusing on chronicling it. This post is catching us up closer to the present....

As is my habit, I've been consuming tons of information about pregnancy, child birth, and babies. I'm a bit obsessive like that. It's mostly podcasts and blogs at this stage. I just don't have the patience for books. I've listened to almost all the Pregtastic, Preggie Pals, and Birth, Baby and Life podcasts so far. So much great info!

Now, just at 20 weeks I'm starting to feel like this is really happening. I'm finally starting to show a bit (that took forever!) Careful what you wish for, I'm sure... I no longer obsessively track my food intake, but I'm working to incorporate as much good whole healthy food and I can. I've hardly gained any weight so far (and nothing in the last month before my last appointment), but I'm trying not to see that as either a good or a bad thing. My doctor isn't concerned but warned me that it WAS coming and it would be OK :) My chiefest concern is just getting the nutrition both of us really need right now.

My zeal for prenatal yoga also waned as the first trimester queasiness and fatigue set in. I haven't been to a class in awhile, but have done some at home. Now that I'm starting to feel more like myself, I plan to start attending the classes again. I really did enjoy them!

Yesterday was my latest doctor's appointment and it is so fun to listen to that heartbeat! I also got my first unsolicited "Are you pregnant question" yesterday. It was tentative, but I certainly did appreciate it! Tomorrow Cute Man and I will go for our 20 week ultrasound - the anatomy scan. Can't wait to see the little guy!

And yes, it's going to be a BOY. We already know due to a genetic test we did early on so here's to announcing the impending arrival of Samuel H. Dodson V due on or about May 5, 2015. How crazy would it be if he actually came on that date? Baby Sammy Five born on 5/5/15. Wow :) But, he'll come when he's ready (no elective inductions for me!)