Sidelined by Knee Pain, Turning Focus to Keto Diet

I did everything right. I eased into my new workout routine slowly to avoid injury. Yet, my knee decided that it does not like 15-minute daily walks. Technically, it isn’t my knee causing the pain. It’s the iliotibial band (IT band), a flexible fascia that runs from the hip to the knee. I’ve felt this pain before. The band is rubbing inside my knee and is starting to swell.

Shifting My Focus to Keto
As I nurse my leg back to health, I’m turning my full attention to getting into ketosis. I screwed up by not doing a menu plan this week. As a result, we ate out way too much. I let my busy schedule became an excuse to go out rather than stay home and cook.

If you want to get healthy, you must put in the work. This week, I didn’t.

My mistake was not planning. I knew how busy I was this week. All I needed to do was make a casserole and use the slow cooker a couple of times.  Leftovers are a busy gal’s friend when you are trying to eat healthy.

Lesson learned.  Last night, after another long day, I browned some ground beef while dicing an onion, garlic cloves, tomatoes and peppers. My keto chili will last a few days. Tonight, I’m whipping up a bacon cheeseburger casserole.

Time to Start Food Journaling Again
I have my target macros and am recommitting to a realistic menu plan for my schedule. What is missing is my food journal. I have no idea if I’m hitting my daily macros, eating too many carbs, or in ketosis.

I know a lot of people think keeping a food log is unnecessary. “Just eat real food until you are full!” I’ve heard this many times. Sound advice for someone whose hormones are in balance and metabolically sound.  But as someone who hasn’t been consistently keto for a few years, I need more discipline. By tracking what I eat, I’ll become more mindful of my choices. In addition to tracking my carb count, I’ll figure out how to course correct if my daily energy level starts flagging, or I’m stuck in a plateau.

For a tracking tool, I’m going old school: pen and paper. At least until I have a chance to research any new apps out there. As you may know, I haven’t been a fan of certain food log apps, like My Fitness Pal. Much of the data is incorrect, and I usually end up doing more work than the app had promised. Which is fine.

Tracking My Blood Ketone Levels
Finally, I’m going to start tracking my ketone levels. My new Keto Mojo arrived.

Although I’m starting today to track what I eat, I’m not going to start tracking my ketone levels until February 1st. I want a solid week of cooking at home, menu planning, and food tracking under my belt before I start pricking my finger with a needle.

I’m rebuilding my good habit routine. I won’t be perfect (I wasn’t this week!). But if I worry about perfection, I’ll never reach my goals.


Getting Back Into Low Carb Menu Planning

Menu planning always kept me on track with my health and fitness goals. Given my weight gain over the last few years, it’s clear that I made a huge mistake not sticking with this habit. Well, that changes this week!

I just posted my first menu for 2021. Going forward, I plan to post  my weekly menus here every Saturday morning. Thankfully it wasn’t that difficult to jump back into planning my meals. Thank God for muscle memory. However, I wasn’t quite on the ball when it came to food prep for these delicious meals. That’s my chore this afternoon.

The meals I’m making this week are all focused on hitting my new macro-nutrient (protein, fat and carbohydrate) targets, which you’ll find below. However, those are just targets and my menu is only as good as my hunger.

For example, today (Sunday), the menu shows I’m breaking my fast at lunch time with a New York strip steak, sauteed mushrooms and cabbage and onion noodles. That sounds delicious. Just one problem. It’s nearly 3:00 p.m. and I’m still not hungry.  This is a very good thing!

You see I got into a habit of eating when my husband wanted to eat. And his eating time was driving more by time of day rather than actual hunger.  So, I’m eating when I’m hungry, and ONLY when hungry.

I’m sure the hunger will kick in during my food prep time. If so, then I’ll eat a larger dinner than expected. That should help carry me into my 24-hour fast tomorrow.

Dot’s New Macros
I used Keto Gains’ Macro Calculator for my macros. I added the fiber information as I’m incorporating elements of Dr. Ted Naiman’s P:E Diet into my keto lifestyle. Fiber is one of these elements. For now, I’m tracking net carbs. That means I’ll eat vegetables high in fiber to keep me at the 20g net carb mark.

Calories (kCal): 1,661
Protein: 168g
Fat: 101g
Net Carbs: 20g
Fiber: 30g

I’m planning a post on the P:E Diet this week.

Updated Dot2Trot’s Menu Page
I removed my old menus from the site. Having gone through them, I noticed a few of the carb counts are out of date. Yes, the nutrition content of food changes thanks to adjustments in farming and the food manufacturing process.

Foods are routinely tested to determine if the nutritional information is accurate.  Those changes are reported using the US Department of Agriculture FoodData Central database, and updates to food labels.

So remember: Periodically check the labels of your favorite foods!


Upgrading My Fasting Routine

A great book for those of you interested in learning about the benefits of and ins and outs of fasting.

I never really stopped intermittent fasting. I’ve done IF for the last 7 years. I settled into an 8-hour eating window and 16 hours of fasting. The problem is that over the last few years the hubby and I just did a lot of damage in that 8-hour window. Although I’m still trying to figure out which direction to take my diet – low carb, keto, carnivore or P:E – I’ve decided I want to push myself on the fasting front.

After a morning binge of Dr. Jason Fung videos, I dusted off the good doctor’s The Complete Guide to Fasting.  I have to say: I love the grids of his fasting protocols. Visually, it’s a great way to show what a 24-, 36- or 42-hour fasting routine looks like.

This week I’m starting the 24-hour fasting protocol. I’m still doing the 16 fasting and 8 hour eating window, but every other day I’m only eating dinner. Today is a fasting day. That means my last meal was last night’s dinner, which I finished eating at 7:00 p.m. My first meal today will start at 7:00 p.m. – 24 hours later.

The only thing I’m allowing myself is water, herbal tea, and one coffee with 1 tbsp. of cream during my fasting hours. Now, I know that some of you are asking: How can you have cream on a fast? Good question! And I have two answers for you.

First, I’m following Jason Fung’s liquid guidelines. That cream is adding so little to my total caloric intake – 50g – it’s too little to matter. Second, my ultimate goal is to eliminate coffee from my diet. I’m drinking one cup a day. That’s down from five cups! I expect to be coffee free within a week or two.

Fasting Isn’t Starvation
There are real benefits if fasting is done right. Clearly, fasting can help with weight loss by helping me get into ketosis. But if I don’t eat right, I’ll stop burning fat.

Fasting is so much more powerful than fat loss. I’m combining fasting with my diet to help boost my energy levels, banish brain fog, reduce inflammation, and improve both leptin and insulin resistance. Once I’ve removed coffee from the diet, fasting will help stimulate autophagy – the body’s process for cleaning out damaged cells and regenerating healthier cells.

I’m finding the 24-hour fast easy to slide into after doing IF for years.  In fact, Jason Fung uses the 36- or 42-hour fasting protocol with his patients for better results. My plan is to move to 36-hour fasting 3 times a week in February before moving to the 42-hour protocol in March.

Of course, life happens. Family get-togethers, dinner with friends, special occasions… Heck, my birthday is this week – on a fasting day no less! Fasting doesn’t mean I become a hermit. I can still enjoy my life. In fact, it makes sense to fast after a feast.

Disclaimer: Fasting isn’t for everyone. There are people who shouldn’t even try fasting, including children, pregnant women and people with eating disorders.  If you are thinking about trying a fast, check in with your doctor first, especially if you are taking any medications. I’m not a doctor and this article is just to let you know what I am trying in regard to my health. It is not medical advice.


Dot’s 2021 Healthy Living Goals

Getting back into shape

My new resistance bands arrived late yesterday. Hello soreness my old friend!

It’s a new year and that means it’s time for resolutions. I’ve come to hate resolutions because I always fail at them. I’d rather set measurable goals so I can actually track my progress. After putting pen to paper, I came up with four measurable goals for a healthier 2021 for myself. Sadly, they are very similar to my goals when I started my little health journey back in 2012.

Over the last 2-½ years I’ve gained about 50 pounds. I lost my focus and fell into a funk. That means I have to drop 100 pounds to get back to my low point. Well … can’t say I don’t love a challenge.

What are my four health goals for 2021?

1. Get Healthy…Again
That doesn’t just mean fat loss. I’m including mental clarity. That means reading more, improving sleep, creating routines, practicing gratefulness, de-stressing, and de-cluttering (mess creates stress!). When I talk about “getting healthy” I mean the full package – mind, body and soul.

2. Build Strength & Stamina
I’m in my 50s. I know the road before me is shorter than the road behind me. I don’t want to spend my golden years in and out of doctor’s offices or hospitals. Building strength and cardio will keep me mobile as well as boosting my overall health and mood. That means a much better quality of life.

I’m still building my routine, but I plan to use a mix of bodyweight and resistance band exercises 2-3 days a week. As for cardio, I’m thinking more tortoise than hare. I’m starting the Mayo Clinic’s 12-week walking routine. I’m easing my hip back into a routine and the last thing I need is an injury.

3. Walk Pain Free
My body has a weight threshold. If I cross it, it lets me know with lower back pain when I walk too much. I need to loose roughly 5% of my body weight – about 15 pounds – for that pain to go away. Fingers crossed that by the end of January, I’ll fall under that threshold.

4. Stay Active
When I started my journey almost 9 years ago, staying active was really difficult for me. I’d left my job. Despite that, I still found myself sitting at a desk working on my computer.  I really needed a mental shift from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one.

That shift came after finding the keto diet and wearing a Fitbit. I went from an average of 2,300 steps in a day to 15,000-20,000 steps. But it wasn’t all power walks, 5k training, and spin classes. Nearly half those steps were from working around the house and running errands. I hated sitting for more than 30 minutes. I was bursting with energy. Sitting down wasn’t going to release that energy.

This last Thanksgiving, I found an old pedometer and gave it a whirl. In December, I averaged 4,000 steps a day. That’s much better than I thought, but it’s still a quarter of what I used to do. Frankly, I know I can do better. By year’s end I want to average 20,000/day.

Those are my four goals. To keep me honest, the plan is for regular postings here on my progress.

And yes, I’m working on new recipes.

What are your goals for a healthier you in 2021?


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.


February Food Challenge: Ketogenic Paleo…With A Twist

The carnivore challenge is wrapping up this week for my husband, but I stopped it for myself a little more than a week ago. I enjoyed carnivore, but my hip pain took a lot of my enthusiasm out of it. I honestly believe that you need to seriously work out while doing carnivore — something I can’t do right now. Anyway, I’ve already begun my next food challenge: a keto version of Paleo’s autoimmune protocol (AIP).

Back in December I started reading Robb Wolf’s Wired to Eat: Turn Off Your Cravings, Rewire Your Appetite for Weight Loss, and Determine the Foods That Work for You.

While some of the concepts are not necessarily new to me, I loved that he explains the science behind food, cravings, and appetite in easy to understand terms. I’ll have a full review of the book next week. Needless to say, it has me all fired up.

How fired up? I signed up for Wolf’s 45-Day Keto Master Class and am currently reading his The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet.

Originally, I’d planned to try Wolf’s 30-day reset as my January 30-Day Challenge. Wolf spends a lot of real estate in his book on gut health and IBS. His 30-day reset sounded perfect for my long-suffering husband. I also hoped the reset could help me rediscover my keto mojo.

But alas, the husband suggested we do Carnivore first, and I was so happy about his enthusiasm that I decided to wait a month and do carnivore instead.

With my hip pain and subsequent arthritis diagnosis, inflammation is my new enemy. I feel the AIP approach is just what I need.

Our Macros For This Challenge
I used a combo of the the KetoGains and Dr. Ted Naimen’s calculators to determine our macros for this challenge. We’re upping our protein and lowering our fat intake. We learned from the carnivore challenge that protein keeps us satiated way longer than fat. If you’re curious, this Robb Wolf video explains why I’ve been feeling hungry and snacking way too much (hint: not enough protein in my diet).

As for reducing our dietary fat, we want to burn our own fat rather than the dietary fat we eat. While most keto folks live by the 70% fat, 20% protein and 5% carb numbers, it just isn’t working for us.

Our dietary fat is coming from lean meats, offal, seafood, the healthy fats we use for cooking (just enough prevent food from sticking), and dressings.

So, no more extra pads of butter on meat. My hubby’s really bummed about that (lol).

Screen Shot 2019-01-31 at 3.18.25 PM

Looking at the numbers, I’m sure you’re asking “Why is John eating 40g of carbs? What about ketosis?”

Remember: this challenge is about eating for health, not chasing a number. In John’s case, eliminating his IBS symptoms and healing his gut is of primary importance. The expected weight loss is a nice side benefit.

Food List: What We Can & Can’t Eat
Because we’re focused on foods targeting autoimmunity and inflammation, our menu seems restrictive (and it is), but I’m confident I can still make awesomely tasty meals.

Screen Shot 2019-01-31 at 3.21.08 PM

Foods to Avoid List – Coffee & Chocolate Make the List

  • Nightshades – Tomatoes, potatoes, sweet & hot peppers, tomatillos, goji berries, and eggplants; spices from peppers (paprika, cayenne, red pepper, chili, black pepper, etc.). Also pimentos are verboten. So careful when eating olives. This is not an all-inclusive list.
  • Nut & Seeds – Includes all nut butters, flours and oils; coffee (!!!), cocoa (no chocolate!) and seed-based spices such as: allspice, anise seed, all peppers, caraway, cardamom, cayenne, celery seed, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, coriander seeds, curry, cumin seeds, dill seed, fennel seed, mustard seed, nutmeg, paprika, poppy seed, sesame seed, all peppercorns, star anise, vanilla bean.
  • NSAIDs – These are anti-inflammatory meds, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), diclofenac, diflunisal, etodolac, and maproxen (Aleve). It’s not a complete list so check you’re medicine cabinet.

Foods OK To Eat List – The Specifics

  • Lean Meats – It isn’t necessary to eat grass-fed, pasture raised, organic meats, but when budget allows, it is our first choice.
  • Fish & Shellfish – Wild-caught is preferred, but if budget only allows farmed, that’s OK. Our goal is 2-3 times per week.
  • Vegetables & Fruit
    • Colorful vegetables & fruit (red, purple, blue, yellow, orange, white – the more color the better!)
    • Leafy Greens
    • Cruciferous Vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc.)
    • Root Vegetables (carrots, beets, celeriac, parsnips, radishes, ginger, turnips, and swedes)
    • Edible fungi (mushrooms!)
    • Because my husband has a larger daily carb allowance, he can have up to 2 servings of fruit each day. As I am doing the ketogenic version, I can have fruit, but I need to stay within my daily carb allowance. Also, fruit fructose needs to stay below 20g.

Next Steps
February 1st is tomorrow, so I’m finalizing the first week menu this afternoon and hitting the grocery store tonight. We also need a plan to deal with Sunday’s Super Bowl party we’re attending. Yikes!!

This means I’m going simple for the first week menu: A giant salad for lunch, some protein and cooked veggies for dinner.

For Sunday I’m pulling a trick out of our carnivore diet: big-ass steaks a couple of hours before the party. There’s no way we’ll even look at the big spread of non-AIP food! However, my husband plans to drink a couple of beers. As for me, my goal is to drink a glass of wine early in the game and then stick with water…lots of water.

Easy peasy!


Hip Tests Are In, And…

hip

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I don’t have a stress fracture. YAY!!!! But I do have osteoarthritis in my hip, am suffering from iliotibial (IT) band syndrome and have a hamstring that is too frickin’ tight. A triple whammy!

What does it all mean? How do I get back on my feet again? Is training for a 10k completely out of the picture? Are any of these new problems related to my chronically tight calf muscles?

Physical Therapy Here I Come
The answer to the first two questions is up to me. I have to do the work, and a lot of it. Tomorrow I meet my physical therapist for a 90-minute evaluation that puts me through my paces. From there I’ll have  PT twice a week for at least six weeks (maybe longer) and daily homework that tackles the hip and my supposed chronic calf problem (more on that later).

The osteoarthritis is very mild and my doctor assured me that with physical therapy and a year to a year and a half of work, the hip pain goes away AND I put off surgery until my golden years.

Diet will be a big part in minimizing osteoarthritis. I’ve put on way too many pounds after my cancer diagnosis in 2016.  To me, that’s the trigger in this latest saga with my left leg.

As for the IT syndrome, it’s normally associated with knee pain. However it does cause a dull ache or a sharp, acute pain in the hip. The band runs along the outside of the leg. While there are lots of causes for the inflammation, my doctor things muscle tightness in my glutes and quads are leading culprits.

All I know is when he started bending my leg like a pretzel, I wanted to smack him upside the head.

Oh And About My Calf Problem
It turns out that my calf isn’t causing the pain in my Achilles tendon. Two years of stretching down the drain. Ugh!

When we discussed my chronic Achilles pain thanks to my overly tight calf muscles, the doctor quickly started stretching my foot and examining the calf, and announced “Your calf isn’t tight…it’s your hamstring.”

So I spent 2+ years not addressing the root cause of my pain. So say I’m a little annoyed is putting it mildly. But at least I’m on the right path.

Path Forward: Exercise, Nutrition & So Much More!
From what I surmised, my whole left leg is jacked up.  My doctor assured me that with PT and strength building I’ll be moving around with ease soon enough.  But it will take 12-18 months of hard work for me to feel 100% again.

I just need to exercise some caution. My inclination is to go full bore…and cause another injury. Maybe that dull, nagging pain in my hip can keep my natural tendencies in check.

As for diet, I’m reading a very interesting book, Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf (Mr. Paleo himself), and I love what I’m reading.  Although I’m eating carnivore for the rest of this month, I’m actually more excited about next month. That’s when I’m doing Wolf’s 30-Day Reset.

I just finished the book and plans for my reset began this morning. Unlike my failed keto reset, I’m feeling confident that the 30-day reset be different. My head is back in the game after being benched for 2 and 1/2 years.  It is a shame that it takes pain or a medical crisis for me to act, but hey, at least I have time to act.

I’ve had success with keto, but paleo seems to have more of the full picture — nutrition, sleep, gut biome, inflammation and movement (to name a few!).

Paleo really zeros in on overall health. Weight loss is a side benefit.  I had that attitude when I started my little low carb journey in 2012. And it worked! Now it seems like everything I’m reading about LCHF/keto all about weight loss and the blasted macros!

That doesn’t mean keto is bad at all. In fact I’m thinking of doing a keto version of paleo after the 30-Day Reset.

It’s just that you need the right mindset when changing your way of eating. My greatest success happened when I viewed my journey as a science experiment with me as the scientist and guinea pig. I was on a journey to get healthy. No pressure from the scale.

That’s what I want to get back to.