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?


The Long, Horrible Goodbye

I’m receiving a lot of emails from readers and viewers sending me well wishes and asking if I’m okay. I sincerely appreciate all your positive thoughts. I want to assure you, I am fine although I’ve definitely gained back weight (more on that in a different post).

I’ve mentioned this before, but yes, we will be making videos again. We’re thinking as soon as spring of 2021. We’ve had few detours the last couple of years – some awesome, some challenging and one that is truly horrible.

On a positive note, my husband took on a huge project – he wrote 4 books – over the last 16 months. When he wasn’t working his real job he devoted all his spare time to writing – so he couldn’t man the camera in our kitchen. I am incredibly proud of him.

As for the horrible, for more than 2 years my attention started shifting from making cooking videos to my mom. Something was very wrong and earlier this year we got an official diagnosis — Lewy Body dementia.

I noticed early signs back in 2015 — anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep. But I attributed it to dad passing away. She also tended to shuffle her feet when she walked, which she blamed on her arthritis. Then there were unexplained bouts of vertigo.

About a year later, I noticed she became more agitated and restless towards the evening but it completely escaped me that she was sundowning.

Then everything changed in 2018 after mom broke her hip and leg from two falls. I remember a warning the orthopedic surgeon gave me after mom’s hip replacement. She said that about 30% die within a year of surgery because an underlying health issue accelerates.

Well, my mom’s dementia hit the gas pedal. For weeks after her first surgery, everyone – doctors, nurses, physical therapists – were telling me that her hallucinations were due to the anesthesia and the elderly take longer to recover. Then there was the extreme emotional swings, paranoia, memory loss, confusion, depression, and the lack of sleep. My sense is those symptoms were present before the surgery. It’s just that she was living with me after her release from the skilled nursing facility. Mom couldn’t hide anything from me.

It was her primary doctor who told us she had dementia and sent us to a neurologist to see if they could determine the type of dementia. Some you can treat with medication. Unfortunately, Lewy Body isn’t one of them.

The last few years have been hard as mom disappears. This is the woman who loved reading, going to school, and studying all things science. She started college when I was 5 years old, graduated medical school when I was 12 and practiced medicine for 30 years. Now she can’t care for herself. All I can do is watch as her mind unravels.

They call dementia the long goodbye. It is, and it’s horrible.


Why We Need To Focus On Health

I cannot stress enough why we need to make our own health a priority. Watch the video below and understand that 1/3 of all US adults are in the at-risk category. That’s 100+ MILLION US ADULTS. It’s everyone with type 2 diabetes (and pre-diabetes), hypertension, metabolic syndrome, obese, etc.

Being too heavy comes with lots of underlying health risks. That makes it easy for COVID-19 to push your body to the point of no recovery.


I’m A Stepping Fool

pedometer

My new toy to track my steps. Over 4 days I averaged 12,000+ steps a day. And on Sunday I rested.

Concerned that I was falling back into my old couch potato ways, I decided to buy a pedometer to track my steps. The last few weeks the weather’s been wet and windy. Who wants to walk in that? Not me. So poof, the idea of getting the pedometer popped into my head. I was curious.

How much I sit on my butt at home.

I usually track my walks with the RunKeeper app. But it can’t track you inside buildings. I do have a Fitbit. But while I want to track my steps, I don’t want Google watching my every step.

So pedometer it is.

It arrived late Wednesday. I quickly set it up and put it on my bedside table, ready for Thursday morning. Sure enough, I woke up, clipped it to my PJs, and started my day. I made a promise to myself not to look at it until the end of the day. I just wanted an idea of how much I move in a day. I guesstimated that I’d hit around  2,500 steps.

Ha! Read More


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


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.


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.