Thursday, December 6, 2018

My Keto Experiment


Hi. I don't really want to write this post, but here we are, so let's just get it over with.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Talk to your doctor. Blah, blah, blah.

I am about to roll over on a year since I started this weird keto journey, and I guess that I look different enough that people are starting to ask me what I am doing. Kicking my own ass, mostly. But we'll get there in a minute.

Back in December of 2017, I was tired of being tired. Frustrated with not ever being able to lose weight, no matter what I did. Facing a diagnosis of diabetes and looking at going on meds after struggling to keep my blood sugar down for nearly two decades. My a1c was creeping higher and higher, along with the number on the scale. I started to do battle with my pancreas a very long time ago, when I was pregnant with my oldest kid. He's 17, so that tells you just how long it has been.

I'm not the type of fat person who can legitimately claim that they were fat and healthy. I wasn't. I had high blood pressure too. I couldn't do a lot of things that involved too much exertion. Last summer at Disneyland, on top of having a bizarre allergic reaction, I dealt with blisters and some serious chub rub that made the trip hell for me. It was awful. I don't want to be that person anymore.

I also have been through my mom dying from complications of Type 2. I knew that I didn't want to end up like she did, I knew that I wanted to be able to watch not just my kids grow up, but their kids too. And I knew that something seriously had to change.

I have struggled with my weight for my whole entire life. I was the fat kid. I've always been your fat friend. And before anyone starts to angrily type a comment about how "we" aren't fat and fat is just a thing...I know. I'm aware. I've lived in this fat body for my whole life. Trust me when I tell you that the world treats fat people differently. It just does.

Anyhow, I've tried damn near every diet known to man. Even the ones with the celebrities and the ads on tv. I've exercised until I passed out. I have dealt with anorexia a few times along the way, and I know my propensity to just stop eating when life gets too complicated. I STILL fall back into these damaging patterns of behavior, even at 41 years old. I was never very good at being anorexic, though. Still fat.

Which just fed the vicious cycle of self loathing.

Hooray for having shitty self esteem.

I saw a couple of friends make progress with keto and figured what the hell? I'll give it a shot, and maybe it helps, maybe it doesn't. It was literally either this or accept my fate and go on meds.

I am also probably the most skeptical person you know. I assumed it wouldn't make a difference. Nothing else ever has.

I have done a ton of research on health and nutrition. I have had a few lectures from nutritionists. I have been told by endocrinologists to keep eating carbs, believing that I had to eat them because all these experts told me I had to. Nothing got better. It only got worse.

And really, humans are not designed to digest wheat. We aren't supposed to be eating processed foods. We just aren't. We just fell for the idea that we are. I include myself here.

The ADA still recommends that people with Type 2 diabetes eat a whole bunch of carbs, just that they use medication and/or insulin to maintain their glucose levels.

It doesn't have to be like that.

(Type 1 is a VERY different situation, requiring insulin, and which cannot be managed by limiting carbs alone. Nothing I write here should be deemed any recommendation to attempt this way of eating for someone with Type 1).

When I started it, I jumped in with both feet, committing myself to really going all in. This isn't the kind of lifestyle that you can ease yourself into exactly. In order to reach a state of ketosis, you essentially have to go cold turkey on sugar and refined carbs. And I won't lie to anyone. That first week SUCKS. Like, you're going to feel like shit. Your body is going to punish you, and it will attempt to demand that you eat the bread or sugar or whatever because you've basically become addicted to the stuff.

Once you get past those first few days, it gets better. I promise.

To cope with those initial days, and the "keto flu" that comes with them, drink a ton of water. Up your intake of electrolytes. And wait. Honestly, you've just got to ride that part out.

Once you do, though, you'll likely start to feel better within a few days. I know it sounds hokey, but I think clearer now. I am better able to regulate my emotions, less likely to be dealing with severe anxiety. I sleep a whole lot better. No longer take antacids.

When I started, I did what is usually referred to as lazy keto. I didn't make a bunch of fancy recipes. I didn't make special food. I sure didn't buy anything special. I didn't take a bunch of supplements. I didn't invest in a whole bunch of shakes. If I was out at a restaurant, I just asked for meals to be made a little differently. Sauces on the side, no bread, no croutons. Sub rice or pasta for vegetables.

I've never worried about my macros aside from keeping a running total of my net carbs. My goal is to have 20 net carbs a day or fewer. Some people can do this and get away with as much as 50 grams. My pancreas is an asshole though, so I keep them lower.

Oh, and a net carb is just total carbs minus fiber.

You will want to try and spread them out throughout the day too, because if you ate all 20 (or 50 if you're one of the lucky people), it might be enough to kick you out of ketosis.

A lot of people assume that I have changed everything about how I cook and eat, and it isn't actually true. I still make most of the same dinners for my family that I always have. I just substitute ingredients or serve the carb-dense stuff on the side instead of incorporated in the dish. For example, I still make spaghetti and homemade meatballs on a regular basis. I just eat mine with zucchini noodles or shiritaki noodles instead. I do make my own pasta/pizza sauce because nearly all commercially available sauces are full of sugar. It's literally the easiest thing, though, and tastes so much better. Crushed tomatoes, olive oil, oregano, basil, garlic, salt, pepper and some red pepper flakes. There.

There are some super health conscious people who will claim that you can never have fast food on keto. I'm not one of them. I have 5 kids and we are super busy people so there are times that I am nowhere near home and need to eat. I just get burgers without ketchup or the bun, with extra lettuce and tomatoes.

I keep a bag of roasted almonds in the car for snacks. Peanuts are fine too if you prefer, but more likely to cause inflammation and carry more net carbs.

I drank bulletproof coffee for a while, but stopped mostly because it was too much effort. I just drink it black now...and I drink a whole lot less of it. I used to guzzle the stuff by the gallon, and now I find that I only need one cup a day to get going.

So, then...what do I eat? I know that this is the question that a lot of people want answered. I eat food. Just food. All meats and fish, poultry and cheese will become your best friend. There are some keto people who literally live on bacon, and while I do love bacon, I cannot eat it that often. I stopped eating dairy aside from cheese and occasional Greek yogurt a long time ago and my digestive system has been so much better ever since. Eggs. I cannot tell you enough about eggs. Most people are conditioned to believe that eggs have a lot of cholesterol and therefore will raise your cholesterol levels, but that's not actually true. My cholesterol has dropped pretty significantly, and on an average day, I eat at least 2 eggs. (whole thing, not just the egg whites). All green leafy vegetables are great, tomatoes in moderation. You're going to want to avoid most root vegetables since they are starchy and full of carbs. And fruit is generally a no-go except for berries and the almighty avocado. ALL THE AVOCADOS.

I make ice cream sometimes if I really want it, from coconut milk, cocoa powder and Stevia. Peanut butter fat bombs cups from sugar free chocolate and chunky peanut butter with coconut oil. There are a million cookbooks and websites devoted to these recipes, so I won't bore you here.

My husband recently started eating keto as well, and makes killer bagels using Fathead dough (again, the interwebs are full of these recipes). They're seriously so good. Keto bread...well, it's not real bread...but it'll do. Swap out regular flour for almond flour or coconut flour, and you're going to want to make sure to grab xanthan gum for anything doughy you want to make.

I do have exogenous ketones in drink form that I use very rarely if I've had more carbs than I should. I've experimented with intermittent fasting as well, and have found that once I adjusted, I'd stay fuller longer anyway. It's weird. I can't really explain it. I do drink protein shakes now, and it took me a while to find a keto friendly mix that didn't taste like dirt. Optimum Nutrition chocolate if you're interested. Costco sells it. No need to pay some exorbitant amount of money for special keto-marketed stuff. I usually toss some powdered peanut butter in there too, with unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

For the first 9 months on this journey, I truly did keto only without adding any extra exercise. In September, for reasons that defy explanation, I started running too. But there are tons of people who have great success with this way of eating who don't do any exercise at all.

Thing is....what you put into your body is a whole lot easier to control than trying to burn it off, even if you were going to work out all the time. I don't honestly know why I started running, but I kind of love it now. (gross)

This weekend, I will hit one year with this way of eating. I can say that I will never go back. I have lost a whole bunch of weight. My cholesterol is lower. My blood pressure is normal. My a1c is too. My skin is even clearer.

It has changed my life.

Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't...but maybe you want to try too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Peck Peck Peck Peck

Hi there, loyal readers. All three of you. If there are even three of you left at this point. Hi. Hi. Hi.

I made a truly half-assed attempt to participate in NaNoWri Mo this year, which failed on Day 3. I know my limitations, and daily writing is one of them. Truth be told, though, I started running a few months ago for reasons that defy explanation, and so I have been spending most of my free time arguing with myself on trails and tracks and dirt roads. It's actually pretty good for the purposes of diffusing anger and frustration.

Which I have had a lot of lately. More than normal. And this particular anger and frustration, well, the new part anyway, derives from something that I cannot actually talk about. I mean, I suppose that I could if I so chose, but I do not so choose at this particular moment in time. Vague enough, yeah?

I can tell you that it has something to do with the whole #metoo movement and dug up a whole bunch of old traumas for me, then revealed some new old traumas that I hadn't really ever fully appreciated for how horrible they were, and there's a whole lot of undeserved guilt heaped on to my shoulders for all of it, not that any of it was my fault, but guilt doesn't actually care about any of that so here we are.

I am generally a very forthcoming person, but this isn't something I am ready to talk about, and to be honest, I am not sure that I ever will be. It has put me in a very odd place in several aspects of my life, and I question who I am actually trying to protect by keeping mostly quiet about it, though recognizing that it's mostly me I'm trying to save right now.

Hence, the running.

There's something deeply therapeutic about pushing your body to its limits, where you feel like you are simultaneously going to vomit and become euphoric. It's weird. I once vowed never to become the person who talks about runner's highs, but I didn't realize back then just how much I would need them someday. So, past were wrong and an asshole. Current me, still an asshole, offers to enlighten you a bit.

I do a lot of monologuing on these runs. Obviously.

On top of all that drama and literally everything that is involved in a house with one cat, three dogs, and seven people, three of which are teenagers, today should be my father's 66th birthday but he only made it to 58.

He said he never wanted to get old. Hated aging in general. Thanks to decades of smoking and whatever environmental exposures he picked up along the way, cancer made sure he didn't get old. I don't recommend it, though. I was there with him at the end, and believe me when I tell you that I wouldn't wish all that he went through on anyone.


I promised myself I wasn't going to write anything sappy about him this year, and here I am starting to do it. Blech.

So, I guess I will tell you all the story that I told my Facebook friends a few weeks back. It's funny and weird and will forever ruin something for you. Basically, it is the best kind of story.

Anyhow. When I was a teenager, my father started telling me and anyone who would listen a story. He'd tell it every time a particular song came on the radio or played in some tv show or movie. Like, he would literally stop what he was doing to engage in this story telling journey over and over again for the sheer joy of watching me cringe.

You see, it was the song that he swore I was conceived to.

Bow chicka wow wow.

And he wanted everyone to know.

A few weeks ago, on the anniversary of my mom's death, I was in the grocery store. I had made a conscious decision to avoid music for the whole day because of the cosmic radio gods that like to torture me when I need it least (or most depending on who you ask, I suppose). I had been fighting back tears most of the morning when I found myself reaching for a can of chili beans, and heard the opening notes of the song. That song. The magic one that made me.

I started laughing (more of a chortle) in the middle of the grocery store.

If I told you that it happened again last week, in the same aisle of the store, as I was again grabbing a can of chili beans, would you believe me?

Well, it did. I don't actually care if you believe me or not. The cosmic radio gods know.

Since I know that you are all dying to know what song it was, I shall tell you and forever ruin it for you as well.

Afternoon Delight.

Skyrockets in flight. ***pew***

Anyhow, I have a million things I need to do on this Tuesday, and I wanted to say hello. I needed to write. And even though I didn't really tell you all much about anything that is going on, I feel better. And I ruined a song for you all. So there's that.

Until next time...

Friday, November 2, 2018

Day 2. It's a strong start. Let's pretend to be optimistic.

I've got a ton of stuff I need to write for work, so this is all that is happening here today. For now. Might be back later....

Thursday, November 1, 2018

NaNoWriMo maybe but probably not

I have forty five minutes to do this before I need to leave for work, but the four year old and the ten year old will be home any second, so this might end up being the shortest NaNoWriMo submission in the history of the universe.

Then again, I managed not to blog at all last month.

I've been busy. Not just busy, but like the soul crushing kind of busy, interspersed with all kinds of old traumas resurfacing in ways that have made me nauseous and anxious and angry and more. I'm not talking about any of that stuff because I just can't. It is so awful and gross and the worst part of really old trauma is that your brain does a really fantastic job of suppressing a lot of it until and unless something dredges it up from the murky pond bottom and exposes it for what it truly was. And that happened for me this past month.

That, and my general life approach for assuming the best about people was wrong. Really, really wrong, and yeah, that's about that old trauma thing too. Suffice to say that I'm not talking about it much with very many people, but that there are a few people that I have opened up to about it all because I need to talk to someone. 

It just sucks.

That, and we've had a lot of health care stuff going on here. Plus Halloween costume building and a kid applying to college and a whole bunch of life. 

I don't get to even touch the computer much unless I am prepping for work or editing pictures, which is also actually work but doesn't feel as much like work because I love it. I have been doing a lot of senior photo shoots lately and I think they are one of my new favorite type of session. 

Anyhow, I don't really having anything shareable that is super profound at the moment, but I wanted to force myself to make some words appear on the screen because I am trying to convince myself to actually DO this challenge this year since I really DO have a book I am working on, and so even if I am not writing here, I hope that I am actually writing.

I hope you all are well. 


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

To The One Who Sings Showtunes Instead of Taking Naps

Dear LAK,

I still haven't come up with a new nickname for you to use here. I should work on that, I suppose. It's probably vastly inappropriate to refer to a preschooler as "Little AssKicker", but that's kinda my thing anyway. Vastly inappropriate. Which is also probably why you were singing "Turn It Off" from the Book of Mormon musical yesterday when you were supposed to be sleeping.


I mean, who lets their kids listen to that soundtrack?


You're going to be four in a few days, although I am pretty sure that you've already decided that you ARE four. All you need to confirm it is the birthday cake you have been talking about for months. You want me to re-create your cake from last year, but somehow also bury dinosaurs in it and add a volcano.

Which will probably happen. Your sisters are pretty good at coming up with those designs.

You are at school right now as I write this. You mostly love school, although there is always that brief moment of hesitation when you are supposed to be lining up to go in where you grab my leg or climb under my skirt and hang on for dear life. And then you shrug and figure you've gotta do what you've gotta do, so off you go.

You've gotten pretty independent this past year, and although I think it weirded you out to be in a room with kids you own age at first, you are loving it. The singing is probably your favorite, since you come home singing a different song every week.

The sun still rises and sets on your siblings, and you are glued to them from the second they get home in the afternoon.

You have developed an absolutely hilarious sense of humor, and somehow you can already conceptualize sarcasm and hyperbole, which is pretty freaking amazing. Your most favorite word to say right now is "caddywhompus". And you know what it means.

Every time it is windy, "Mom, the rainbow flag is caddywhompus again".

And you keep reminding me until I fix it.

You're solidly in the phase of development where you are learning constantly, trying out new words, figuring out how things work, asking questions, and wanting to soak it all up. It's kind of tiring as a parent, but so cool to watch your little brain develop.

You started riding your bike and are forever begging someone to take you outside so you can play with the skateboard or basketball or draw on the driveway with chalk. You love going to all the parks, although you've already learned that the best park is rocketship park. Because it is. Obviously.

You aren't a little baby anymore, though you still grab me by the cheeks and whisper in my ear when you're stalling to take a nap....

Hold me a minute.

And I always do, because no matter how big you ever get, you'll always be my baby. And you know that being adult sized hasn't stopped your siblings from sitting on my lap, so I doubt it will ever stop you either.

Try not to have any major injuries this year. I know that you think you are Spider-Man, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't end up in a cast jumping off of stuff. So either don't do that, or work on your landings, Spidey.

Keep being silly, sweet boy. Keep singing showtunes and doing whatever that weird dance is that you do.

Keep trying to keep up with your brothers and sisters. Keep wanting to learn about everything. Keep hanging on to my leg when you need to and keep making yourself let go when it is time.

I'll be here, cheering you on from where you don't see, ready to hold you a minute.

I love you, Turkey Man.

Happy Birthday.

Oh, and go easy on the peaches. Other people in the house would occasionally like to eat one. ;)

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