Keeping Workouts Practical

final beds

A big workout this wet, rainy weekend as we built our 3 raised beds.

Despite the elements, we finished building our garden beds this weekend. Not an easy feat considering the ground was still soaking wet from an overnight storm. There was a lot of sliding and sinking in the mud as we completed the second layer of each frame. Forget all the heavy lifting we were doing. Trying to maintain your balance on a muddy, slippery lawn for an afternoon is tiring.

Oh, and there were the squats…lots of squats. I can’t tell you how many squats we performed. Some with body weight only, others with body weight and pressure-treated boards.

I got a full body workout and muscle soreness without the cost of monthly gym fees.

What’s interesting is I found this “workout” more practical than a 45-minute ordeal with a trainer. I mean, how often do I need to do a one-legged squat on a bosu ball outside of a gym?

Every movement I did — pulling, pushing, lifting and squatting — are things I do every day. It’s just this weekend I had “weights” (a saw, hammer, boards, shovel and dirt). Read More


Building My (Sort of) Keto Garden

seeds

The start of my seed collection with more on the way. Yes, I’m out of control.

Since the Winter Solstice, there’s an excitement building in me. The days are growing longer. Which means gardening season is right around the corner. Last year I really didn’t plan my garden. It was very willy-nilly.

Well this year the garden will have more structure and focus on growing (mostly) keto friendly vegetables and fruits. And I’ve even set a few goals for myself.

1. Have fun
The fun part is easy. From perusing the seed catalogs to building raised beds to starting seeds early, I love it all.  But will I feel the same when things don’t go right? I killed a few plants last year and I know I’ll kill more this year. But I’m learning from my mistakes. I just have to keep in mind that gardening is more about the process than the results. Read More


Setting My House In Order

PetersonRight now I’d describe my life as disorganized chaos punctuated with bouts of intense hip pain and many periods of extreme laziness. All of this has lead to some very poor dietary choices and a growing waistline.

In short, I do not like myself very much right now.

The last time I felt that way, I’d read a book that turned my life around (after a lot of hard work). Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes set me on a path to putting my health first. It worked…for a while…until life kicked me in the tail.

After cancer, then an unstable hip, plus the efforts required to help my aging mom, life right now feels out of my control.

Now, once again, I’ve discovered a book that might just be the ticket to helping me gain back control over my life.

Recently, I started reading Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

I know Peterson is a bit of a controversial figure. People either love him or hate him. Do I agree with everything he says? No. But I don’t even agree with myself half the time. Having said that, his book does make me think. And that is awesome. I don’t talk politics on this blog, except when it comes to our boneheaded nutrition guidelines. I will say that just because I agree with someone on a particular point, that doesn’t mean I think they are the next coming of Christ. Nor do I believe that if I disagree with someone, he’s Hitler. We’d be better off if more people go into a conversation with the idea that may be we’re wrong.  It’s how we learn and grow.

Cleaning Up My Life
Titled Set Your House In Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World, chapter six really hammers home the idea that when things fall apart in our lives, we have two options:

  1. Complain about the world and let bitterness and resentment drag us down, or;
  2. Be invested in our own self-improvement.

Just the other day I was going on and on (for the 100th time) about how expensive it is to eat on the carnivore diet. My husband pointed out that it’s not a big deal if we stopped going out to eat three nights a week at a steakhouse.

D’oh!

I’d wasted so much time complaining that I didn’t stop and ask, “What can I do about this?”

The answer: stop eating out. This makes beef very affordable.

It’s easy to point a finger at our family, our job, our environment, the government, or other entities as to blame for our lot in life. What’s hard is to stop bitching, take a good look at the behaviors that got us here, and then act on those realizations.

In chapter 6, Peterson asks a simple question: “Have you cleaned up your life?”

Clearly, from my carnivore chat with my husband, the answer is a definite “NO.”

Time To Stop Neglecting Myself
I’m not really doing the chapter justice. There’s just so much in it, and I plan to reread it later today. I initially picked up the book to see if I could glean ideas to help me get back on track with eating keto. This chapter was surprisingly revealing and hit me harder than I could have hoped for. I’ve written before that weight loss is 95% food, 5% exercise and 100% mental. Well, it’s the mental side that I need to focus attention on, and Peterson’s observations have really helped me focus on the negative behaviors I need to change.

One behavior is actually a sort of non-behavior: I  haven’t been as engaged. I used to do lots of challenges with the diet and exercise. I used to love reading up on the latest dietary research. The more videos I watched or articles I read, the more mindful I was of what I ate. I stayed active and closely tracked my progress. I was engaged and, most importantly, I was having fun.

Then, at some point, I began neglecting the mental component of fitness and health.

Starting Small: February Challenges
So where to start? Here, Peterson offers some guidance: the key is starting small.

How small? It can be as simple as making the bed every morning, or working harder at our jobs. We have to stop doing what we know is wrong, and start doing things we know are right.

I’m sticking with carnivore in February, and will be eating beef and eggs until my garden starts producing. To ease the financial challenge of carnivore, the hubby and I are eating-in all month, and prohibiting alcohol. No wine for me, no scotch in the evenings for him.

Next up: my mobility. Just a couple of years ago I’d go on a 6-mile walks or train for 5 and 10K races. Now I’m lucky if I can walk 15 minutes straight with no pain. From now on, each morning, I’ll spend 30 minutes stretching my hip. Every other day, I’ll add in 15-30 minutes of light yoga, and follow that with a nice walk outside. My goal is to hit 30 minutes of walking a day by month’s end.

Thank you Jordan Peterson, you’ve been a big help. The rest is up to me.


Happy World Carnivore Month!

steak

My typical carnivore dinner: 2 eggs over easy and a rib-eye steak. Yummy.

I’ve designated 2020 as an awesome year for my health. The husband and I went carnivore a week before we rang in the New Year. Although we hit a few snags – namely wine – we found our groove in time for World Carnivore Month (WCM).

Does this mean I’m no longer eating veggies and berries? Nope. I should be back to filming delicious keto (and carnivore) dishes soon. It’s just that my husband needs to get serious about his gut health and the Carnivore Diet is the ultimate elimination diet. I’m joining him for support and as a reset, and God knows I need one.

Hardcore Carnivore
There are many ways you can do the carnivore diet – with limited diary, no dairy, lean meat with added fats, fatty meats only, grass-fed & free-range meats only, all beef, keto carnivore, 90% meats and 10% vegetables, etc.

I know there will be comments to proclaim what the one true carnivore diet is. Well I call “Shenanigans” on you. Like all healthy eating lifestyles, make it your own as far as what works for you.

Per my husband’s suggestion, we are going all-beef, with eggs. No spices, herbs or seasonings with the exception of salt (obviously!).

The only plants we’re consuming come in the form of coffee and tea. That means the only dairy is heavy cream for coffee, and that is limited.

brisket

Last night’s dinner – a lovely beef brisket.

How Much Meat Do I Eat In A Day?
I don’t usually measure my food on carnivore. I’m really focused on eating when hungry only. However, I have noticed a gradual increase in how much beef I’m eating. So I did some measuring.

Before carnivore, I typically ate about 14 ounces of meat in a day. The first week of carnivore I was eating roughly 20 ounces of beef/day. I’d say right now I eat between 24-36 ounces (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)/day.  If I’m super busy doing physical work I can easily eat 2 pounds/day. But If it’s a lazy day, it’s a struggle to eat 24 ounces.

I’d guess that my husband is between 3-4 pounds of beef a day. But he too had to build up to that amount.

So Far I Feel Awesome…When We Don’t Mess Up
My energy level is up and I’m experiencing fewer aches and pains in my problem hip and knees when I stick to carnivore. But we’ve had some slips due to very poor planning and bad habits. Things like wine and very anti-keto snacks (popcorn is the devil!).

I don’t beat myself up for those slips…I don’t have to. My body punishes me with:

  • Poor sleep
  • Low energy the following day
  • Hip pain
  • Swollen legs

For me, slip-ups happen with boredom. If I’m not busy I’m my own worst enemy. Thanks to physical therapy and gardening my mobility improved. But once that first frost hit, I didn’t have a plan to stay as active.

Bad habits came back with abandon. And I’m feeling it in my hip. Not good.

shed

We had to tear down our old shed last summer. Now we have a ton of work to do to get our backyard ready for the new shed.

Rather than waiting for spring (47 days away in case you were wondering), I’m focusing my efforts on some DYI projects around the house:

  • Painting the basement
  • Cleaning up the backyard
  • Finishing the raised beds
  • Redecorating the spare bedroom/office
  • Organizing closets
  • Replacing plants in our landscape

Some of these projects, I kept putting off. Others are more urgent with spring fast approaching (like clearing out the space for our new shed).

What I love is all of these projects are needed, take time to get right, and keep me active physically and mentally. There is no reason to get bored and eat something I don’t want to eat.


Whole Lotta Cookin’ Going On

chicken zoodle soup

Evenings are quite cold now. Time for my carb chicken zoodle soup.

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. The husband and I decided to pack up the pup and take a road trip to Texas to visit my sister. We loved the trip and it’s always great to see family. But once home, I got back into the kitchen. The thought of eating out again made my head spin.

So over the last few days I’ve whipped up some of my favorite and easy dishes: chili, chicken zoodle soup, Scotch eggs, taco omelets, and huge Cobb salads.

I also had a good time trying out a few new recipes. The biggest mistakes I made with my garden this year?  Not enough low carb/keto recipes for all the food I grew.  Planning is well ahead for 2020. I finally figured out what I want to grow. Now it’s time to start concocting some tasty and keto friendly dishes.

taco casserole

Layering the first test of my taco casserole. A few more tweaks and it’s a go!

This week I tried out 3 recipes. Two need work. The third…a disaster never to be spoken of again.

  • Shredded chicken taco casserole (too many eggs, not enough smokey salsa!)
  • Roasted poblano soup (too many carbs!!!!),
  • “What was I thinking” casserole (always make sure the diced zucchini you grab isn’t actually cucumber instead).

After several days of cooking, experimenting and cleaning, the itch to go out for dinner hit me real hard. Thankfully my husband just ignored my hints and I went back into the kitchen to cook some Peruvian chicken with green sauce and green beans.

hungry pup

My constant companion while I cook. Just waiting for morsels to fall or a few scritches.

Dinner was delicious. We saved money. Most importantly, I’m loving being back in the kitchen.

And the timing is good with Thanksgiving just weeks a way. Let the cooking (and recipe testing) commence!

 


An Abundance of Tomatoes

tomato harvest

This tomato (and pepper) harvest lead to me getting my butt back into the kitchen and rediscovering what I love.

Although the garden is winding down, in the last 2 weeks we’ve seen huge harvests of peppers (hot and sweet), beefsteak, yellow pear, and heirloom tomatoes. Granted, most of the yellow pear tomatoes are green. We owe that harvest to a squirrel who decided to jump on the plant and shake it clean of fruit.

Despite the ongoing battle with the neighborhood fluffy-tailed rodents, I’m actually quite grateful. That squirrel helped me get back into the routine of cooking our food again. This past year we’ve spent an awful amount of time in restaurants. It was just easier (and less painful) than standing at the stove. Also, we were “getting out of the house” all that. Despite choosing restaurants where we could still eat low carb, we didn’t always do so. And we drank wine …

I figured once my hip stopped hurting, I’d get back into the kitchen. But the pain came and went and we still were eating out. A little honesty: since my most recent reset, we’ve eaten out twice. To be fair, that was an improvement – we used to go out almost every day (and boy did it take a toll on our wallet).

That said I’m still not happy with myself. I hate the idea of letting food go to waste—and my hard work in the garden—and so I’ve started cooking again. I broke out a few tried and true low carb recipes – slow cooked meatballs in yellow tomato sauce, roasted tomato soup, chicken & zucchini au gratin, low carb meatloaf (with a ghost pepper twist), and chicken parmesan.

We mostly stayed true to our keto reset (though glasses of wine did pop in a couple more times). No, we weren’t perfect, but I rediscovered my love of cooking healthy, delicious meals for us. I simply can’t give in to the ease of having someone else make and serve our food. Besides, my cooking is better anyway!

Right now I’m planning my garden for 2020. The plan is to grow more peppers, tomatoes, squash, and greens than I did this year. Which means I need to come up with more keto/low carb recipes for all that food I’m growing…

This is a great lesson to me: if you’re constantly trying to get out of the house, do something that makes staying home more appealing.

Bye for now…


Just Accept It & Move On

Well it’s day 5 of our keto-carnivore challenge and I can honestly say yesterday was the low point. Coming off of a very bad day at the office, the husband ordered gluten free pizza. And yes, I had some.

Talk about textbook emotional eating. It doesn’t take much for us to decide we need to “blow off steam” by eating out or bringing home a bottle of wine. After a couple of glasses, you do dumb things…like order gluten free pizza.

Oh, and it wasn’t very good pizza either!

I was upset with both of us last night as I went to bed. My last thought before drifting off: “Well, Day 1 just starts tomorrow.”

This morning the frustration is gone, replaced with resolve.

Day 1 of our reset was September 21, not September 25. We messed up. Badly. We’ll do better at the next meal.

Accept it and move on.

The only change we’re making to our keto carnivore challenge is no alcohol of any kind allowed. Period.


Keto Carnivore…Our Way

IMG_3528-300x300The one thing about eating low carb, both blessing and a curse, is that everyone has an opinion on how to do it. I love how you can go into any online community and get help with nearly every challenge or issue.

On the other hand, I hate when I hear, “you’re doing it wrong.” There is only one way to eat low carb, don’t cha know? And the people who believe that are the first ones who to let you know loudly and proudly.

Well. I hate to break it to the don’t-cha-know crowd: there is more than one-way to keto.

  1. We’re not the same – someone with IBD is going to keto differently than someone eating for athletic performance.
  2. Our diets change as we change. As we age, our bodies have different needs when it comes to nutrition.

I tried going back and doing my tried-and-true low carb style – the one that helped me shed all that weight. This time around, though, it didn’t work. I felt tired and hungry. My joints—already hurting—seemed to hurt a little more. Was I perfect? No, because I’m human. But something was different this time around, and I think that “something” is me.

Now, I love to do 30-day challenges. Why? I like to stretch myself and see what does and doesn’t work for me. It’s almost like test-driving a car to see if I really wanted to buy it. Also, frankly, it’s just fun to shake things up and experiment.

Today, the hubby and I are officially keto-carnivore for 30 days.

What is keto-carnivore?

We all grew up with the food pyramid, where grains, breads, and cereals made up the foundation of the “Standard American Diet” (SAD in deed). Then fruits (2-4 servings) and vegetables (3-5 servings), followed by low fat dairy and lean meats, and fats were used sparingly.

With the keto-carnivore food pyramid, red meat (beef, deer, bison, lamb) is the staple, followed by fish. Pork and poultry are limited. Dairy (cheese, creams, butter) and fats like avocado (oil and fruit) coconut oil, and olive oil are used sparingly. Eggs are also part of the pyramid and we group them with red meat.

There’s one big caveat to our keto-carnivore challenge:

My Garden

BigOne

Yep, that’s 1.5 pounds of heirloom tomato you’re looking at.

Other than avocadoes, I’m not buying fruit or veggies, but I am growing them. We don’t want to waste them. Most of the plants we’re growing are low carb, so yes, we will incorporate them into our diet. If we grow them, we’re eating them.

As luck would have it, yesterday we had a big harvest.

  • Peppers – green bell, chili and ghost
  • Tomatoes – Yellow pear, plum, and some big-ass heirloom yellow tomatoes including a 1-½ pounder.

We normally eat 2 meals a day. To handle our little bounty, I’m limiting our veg intake to the first meal of the day. Dinner is meat only.

Now, hot peppers are not what I would consider “low carb,” so I’m using them in dishes that spread the carb count across multiple servings. I’m talking beef chili and spicy pulled pork barbacoa – dishes that will last us days. They can also be used in marinades where not all of the carbs will be absorbed (but I still count them anyway).

The key is we’re staying below 20g of total carbs daily when we have any vegetable. I fully expect that by Wednesday of next week we’ll be strictly meat only…until the next little harvest.

The nice thing about this challenge is it pretty much ends around when I expect the first frost to hit. If we’re happy with the results, and I see a noticeable change in how I feel, we may decide to go full-time keto-carnivore.

Wish us luck!


The Kind of Growing I Can Get Behind

My cabbage

The netting helps keep the cabbage looper caterpillar from laying eggs.

I am growing a cabbage on my deck, and lucky for me I decided to do so, because a fat rabbit ate most of the other cabbage growing in my yard. Bastard!

After we’d put our cooking videos on hold, I needed to find something to keep me busy. With the long hours needed for my husband’s new project, this had to be something I could do given my limited mobility.

I’ve always wanted my very own garden. I had one when we first moved into our little “Love Shack.” It was tiny, but I loved it (except for another rabbit that ate all my lettuce). But alas, it was not meant to be, as my husband had to put in a huge deck right where I was planting.

main garden

My tiny container garden.

Due to my hip pain and lack of mobility, I ended up watching a lot of YouTube, which we all know is the “gateway drug” for anyone who loves hobbies. Gardening videos were the hook for me. I started reading everything I could on square-foot gardening, container gardening, annuals and perennials, making your own growing soil…it was a enormous rabbit hole.

I told myself to start small – a simple container garden. Just buy a tomato plant, herbs, a few flowers, and container soil from Lowes. Easy-peasy, right? Turns out that’s just not my style. I decided to grow from seeds. Oh, and if I’m growing from seeds, and I grew a lot more than I expected: eggplants, tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers (including a Ghost Pepper!) zucchini and yellow squash, watermelon, onions, scallions, green beans, lettuce, pumpkins, strawberries, cucumbers, basil, thyme, rosemary, catnip and big ass sunflowers.

Cabbage and snow peas are my fall crops.

tomatoes

My tomato corner, featuring a Red Beefsteak, Yellow Brandywine and Yellow Pear.

I loved growing my own food. For me, it tasted better than anything from the grocery store. But the real benefit was it got me moving.

When your leg feels like it’s disconnected from your hip, the last thing you want to do is walk. On top of that there’s the pain… The last thing you want to do is move around. But the pain doesn’t go away unless you move.

The garden became a type of physical therapy. Every day, rain or shine, pain or no pain, even before coffee, I’m in the garden watering, fertilizing, harvesting, and trimming plants. At dusk, I’m treating the plants for disease or fungus – that is when I’m not fighting caterpillars, vine borers, Japanese beetles, and those dang rabbits.

lemon tree

My newest addition – a Meyer lemon tree – which arrived a few weeks ago. I moves indoors soon for the winter.

When I first started, my movement was difficult, but I wanted the garden more than the comfort of not moving. It took a few of months before the walking, bending, squatting, and kneeling didn’t hurt as much. Of course, I had a few big spills (my balance sucks) but that didn’t deter me.

I think the garden also helped me get back into the keto game at some level. This week, I told you that I was feeling mighty sorry for myself thanks to my unstable hip. That self-pity lead to eating a lot of highly processed carbs and weight gain. At a subconscious level, the healthy me was screaming to take control, and I believe the garden was a voice for that.

There was no rhyme or reason to what I picked gardening. I just wanted to see if I could grow something from seed…or so I told myself. With the exception of the watermelon and beefsteak tomatoes, my garden was pure keto.

Heck, even with the watermelon, I only grew one small one, and I only ate ½ a cup (the husband devoured the rest).

nice_edited

A bit of the husband’s photography. He fell in love with our sunflowers.

It’s almost mid-September and my garden only has about 4-6 weeks left before the first frost hits, but I couldn’t be more excited. I’m busy planning out next year’s garden. We’re getting rid of the lawn and building raised beds. I just love growing our own vegetables, and the idea of making a truly ketogenic garden excites me.


Summer of Hip Therapy & Bad Eating

We’ve been so busy this spring and summer. It looks like fall and winter are shaping up to be just as, if not more, hectic. Obviously posting and making cooking videos have taken a back seat. But my cameraman/editor husband and I are fine. We’re just super busy.

This spring we made the decision to put a hold on making new videos. A big work project landed on my husband’s lap that demanded all of his time spent on filming and editing our videos. The project’s end date was late August…but here we are in September and it is still rolling along. Now it’s looking like the end date is closer to November/December.

As for me, the one word to describe the past 8 months is “frustration.” My unstable hip dominates everything I do.  For months on end sitting, standing, stretching, walking or rolling over in bed caused intense pain. It’s been difficult to do basic things like cooking, cleaning, walking to the mailbox, or grocery shopping. I found if I sat for more than 30 minutes I wouldn’t be able to walk more than a foot or two without risk of falling.

No matter the amount of physical therapy or stretching “3 times a day,” it just felt like my hip muscles were getting pulled into a tighter ball instead of lengthening.  I know my orthopedic doctor warned me it would take about 18 months to stabilize the hip. But patience with one’s self goes out the window when you’re use to physically doing what you want when you want.

Rather than being patient with myself and having that laser-focus on my health, self-pity won out this summer. So rather than focusing my time on getting healthy I went back to my old bad eating habits.

To say my carb count “crept up” is putting it mildly. There were days (most) I ate like the old 300+ lbs. me, and days where I was strictly keto (far too few).

So this summer I added a lot more weight…and didn’t care. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself.  I knew what I was doing was wrong and frankly, stupid. But as they say, you need to hit bottom before you turn your life around.

It wasn’t until August that my hip started really responding to therapy. I became more mobile and flexible. The pain isn’t constant. For now it feels like I’m over a hump. My trainer recently cleared me for biking and interval running. That’s huge!

And sure enough, around the same time that mental funk started lifting too. I’m starting to eat out less, cutting back on alcohol, and making better food choices.  In September I decided to do another keto reset (for the zillionth time…but whose really counting) with a 30-day challenge.

Since I’m on a video hiatus, I decided to go back to where it all began for me…this blog. I’ll try to do 1-2 posts a week. The posts will focus on my reset — the successes and failures.