My 30-Day Carnivore Challenge

Freezer

Starting to stock up for our 30-Day Carnivore Challenge. This is how you kick off 2019!

I’m so happy 2018 is over. It was a rough year for me. I felt pulled in too many directions and started stress eating again. Also, as the number on the scale started climbing, I just couldn’t find the motivation to stick to keto.

But that was last year. Today is a new day (and year). And, most importantly, my motivation mojo is back.

No, it has nothing to do with New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t believe in making them. But I do enjoy the freshness of a new year and all the possibilities that come with it.

For the first time in nearly a year I’m shaking up my diet, at least for the month of January. Yep, it’s my new 30-Day Challenge – I’m going pure carnivore for 1 month.

Right in time for World Carnivore Month.

Awesome!

Why The Carnivore Diet?
So many reasons! First, I love trying new diets that directly attack my insulin resistance. Which begs the question: why not try the ultimate keto diet? I’m conducting my own personal experiment, with me as the lab rat. As a veggie lover, can I give up all my wonderful greens and go meat only? Will I get an energy boost? How will my hormones respond (especially my nemesis: cortisol!)?

Second, I’m looking to kick some bad habits – snacking and drinking wine, primarily. When you eat a big juicy 16-ounce rib eye for breakfast, there is no need or desire for snacking. Or so they say. And as for the wine, the carnivore diet doesn’t allow for alcohol. So, in a way, I’m also doing a 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge, too.

Third, I just need to shake things up. The scale was going in the wrong direction for months. Thanks to the wine and not staying strictly-keto all the time, I started having sugar cravings again—something I thought left behind all those years ago when I began this journey. As for the stress eating, I’m testing a new mindfulness app that seems to help me relax and not worry so much (more on that in a later post).

There’s another reason (so many good reasons): I’m helping my husband out. He’s using this challenge as part of an elimination diet. My husband has serious IBS issues and he had a medical scare in November. Everything turned out fine, but he was a very sick and weak puppy for about four days.

With the version of carnivore we’re doing, the following items are forbidden:

  • Pork, chicken, seafood (we’re red meat only)
  • Vegetables or fruits
  • Dairy or cheese
  • Coffee or tea
  • Eggs
  • Sauces, and nearly all seasonings and spices

After the challenge, my husband is going to slowly add things back into his diet to see how he does.

There are a couple of exceptions:

  • For the first few of days, we are drinking half-caffs to help wean us off of coffee.
  • Heavy cream is allowed only for the half caffs
  • We can use salt for seasoning (zero carbs!)
  • I’m going to use black pepper.

When he is strict keto, the husband’s health improves about 90%. We’re testing to see if his remaining IBS symptoms finally disappear with carnivore.

Today we’re taking our measurements and hitting the scale before our first steak of the day. I’ll post those tomorrow. I’m curious to see what changes we’ll see in 30 days.

I’ve been watching videos by Dr. Shawn Baker, who’s sort of a big name in Carnivore right now, and I plan to get his book. If you’re curious about the diet, check out his videos on YouTube, or read the book with me: The Carnivore Diet.

Happy New Year to all!


Sick Again!

Ugh! Either this cold is tougher than I thought or I caught something else. Runny nose, sore throat, sinuses throbbing, and an overall crappy feeling. To make matters worse the hubby is now officially sick.

The last few days I’ve been running myself ragged trying to get my mom’s apartment ready for her. I’m making sure she can move around with her walker easily. That means moving furniture, reorganizing rooms and putting things in storage.

Then there is the issue of the 2nd bedroom, which was being used as storage. I have to box everything up before we can set up my sister’s bed.

So of course, it is the perfect time to get sick all over again.

I think my body is telling me something. So I’m going back to bed for a little R&R before the packing frenzy begins.

The good news…I never want to eat much when I’m sick. So this can help my keto reset.

 

 


Keto Reset Day 16: A Late Night Victory

Yesterday was a bad day. I woke up cranky. I don’t know why. But dang it, I was not someone not to be trifled with.

Well my mom woke up in a similar mood. I should have saw it coming the day before. We briefly chatted about giving up her apartment and looking for assisted living arrangements. The last time we had this chat, she was an emotional wreck for a few days. I should have learned from that…but I didn’t.

Now she was on a mission. And it was going to be accomplished. Period.

We headed to her apartment to get her wedding ring set. Perfectly reasonable…but that doesn’t mean that “Cranky Dot” liked it.

However she wasn’t 100%. Her arthritis was bad this morning. Every move was painful. She felt really tired – I thought she was still recovering from a cold. And her breathing at times was labored.

There was a lot of walking involved to get to apartment. Much further than she has walked since breaking her hip. Physically she overexerted herself.

But there was the emotional side of this trip too. She was overwhelmed. Coming back to her apartment was hard. I think she is really starting to understand that she won’t be living her again. But wanted to prove herself, and me, wrong.

The result was a way too stressful day…for both of us. Tempers flared at times. She had a lot of near misses and almost ended up on her backside. So of course my frustration mounted.

After spending all morning together, it was time to get her to her physical therapy and a much-needed break for me.

Don’t get me wrong. Any other time we spend ½ a day in close proximity to each other it is a very good day. We have fun. But today, was a special supersonic black hole of emotional mess for both of us.

Mindfulness vs. Wine & Chocolate Pudding Cake
So what did I do? I was hungry and went out to eat. Yes I ordered low carb – a bun-less bacon cheeseburger with a side of grilled broccolini. Perfect. Until the wine showed up.

Before ordering the wine, I pulled out my phone and turned on my meditation app. Surely there was a 2 minute meditation to take help me relax in a busy, loud restaurant.

Maybe…but “Cranky Dot” wasn’t falling for it. Soon “Cranky Dot” morphed into “Self-Pity Dot” and she ordered one more glass…and was eyeing the chocolate pudding cake.

Thankfully “Keto Dot” appeared and stopped me half way through the second glass and turned my attention to the full water glass on the table. I ended up drinking 2 of those.

About 90 minutes later, mom was ready and I picked her up. She needed to rest and went up for a nap.

Emotionally spent, I scrapped plans for cleaning out the basement. I thought the drama for the day was done. While I was upset I ordered those 2 glasses of el vino, I was happy I pushed that damn cake out of my mind. Plus, my first reaction was to turn on my meditation app. It didn’t work this time, but I did reach for it first!  So it was a partial victory.

Evening In The Emergency Room
Unfortunately the day wasn’t done. A few hours later mom had a bad fall. She was reaching into the closet for her robe and fell backwards. Besides worrying that the bad hip might have a crack, she hit her head…hard.

The next several hours were spent in the emergency room, waiting for the CT scans, x-rays, blood work and lab results. Thankfully no breaks…just a lot of bruises. But her iron levels are too low. She can’t absorb iron that well thanks to her bariatric surgery many decades ago. Which looks to be the cause of her tiredness, shortness of breath and sluggish movements.

While waiting for the results I had a personal victory. Over the last few months, any visit to the hospital always resulted in a trip to the vending machine. When you are a stress eater, quality of food doesn’t matter.

Last night. I wasn’t interested.

When we got home very early this morning, I experienced another victory. I made a small meal for mom (she missed dinner). The hubby pulled out a small box of wine that I use for cooking. He poured me a glass. I said no thanks and went to bed.

Refusing wine…granted it was crappy box wine so not too difficult to pass on. But all things considered, it still is a small victory.


Keto Reset Challenge Day 14 – Everyday Beauty Is Back With Abandon!!!

mud mask

My first mud facial in more than a year! It felt so great, it’s time to get back to doing these twice a week.

A mud facial here…eyeliner there…soon I’m back to exfoliating once a week. Yeah, baby! My beauty routine is back with abandon. What does this have to do with my Keto reset? Everything!

Most people think keto or low carb reset is all about the food. It’s not. There is so much more. There is a reason people talk about making a lifestyle change. Healthy living/dieting is 95% food and 100% mental. When I start focusing on how I look each day and I’m not thinking about weight that is a good thing.

Wednesday morning was when I finally felt like I was turning the corner with this blasted cold. After brushing my teeth, instead of heading downstairs for some coffee, I looked at myself in the mirror for a few seconds. Then I just naturally reached for my make up drawer and put on my tinted moisturizer.

Next up the eye primer. Eye shadow and liner followed in short order. Next thing I know I’m brushing on bronzer and slapping on lipstick.

Without thinking about it, my old 10-minute make up routine just kicked in.

Happiness ensued…until I noticed the bed head that I was wearing. Curlers plugged in and within 15 minutes, I’m sporting a quick and easy hairstyle.

I use to call this Everyday Beauty. Just taking a few minutes each morning to doll myself up for me and no one else. I started wearing make up when I went low carb. It wasn’t vanity. It was about showing myself a little TLC after years of beating myself up.

Thankfully this reset restored that sense of pride in oneself. I didn’t have to work on it.

It just happened.

That tells me I’ve turned an important corner in this reset. I was too focused on eating the right things (always important) that I forgot about the mental side of getting healthy.

Learn About Dot’s Weight Loss Make Up Make Over Here and learning about what to wear as I slimmed down.


Day 10: Keto Reset Day – Lowering Stress With Food Prepping

Feeling like I’m over the worst part of this blasted cold, yesterday I did something I haven’t done in a long time. Food prepping for the week. Granted, it happened on Hump Day, but that’s neither here nor there. Doing something so simple felt great. It’s an habit I started when I went low carb and it’s been MIA for too many months.

What To Do With All These Tomatoes?
I deviated from my grocery list slightly by picking 2 pounds of tomatoes – Campari, heirloom and San Marzanos. Why? Oven-dried tomatoes of course! Great for salads, pesto, quiches. Nice add-ons to the dishes I’m making this week.

Of course, they take 8 hours or so to dry out, but they do taste spectacular. Frankly the taste is even better when they sit in a delicious extra virgin olive oil (frankly, the amazing oil coming out of California is replacing Greek and Italian olive oils in my home).

Rinse, Chop, Make Ahead, Repeat
While the tomatoes took hours to make, the rest of my food prep took just 2. I quickly dispensed with the veggies: washing, chopping and storing – about 30 minutes total.

Next up, the cooking portion of my prep work: whipping up hard-boiled eggs, testing my Instapot (that poor spaghetti squash!), and preparing a make ahead meatloaf to pop in the oven for dinner.

The nice thing about all this prep work was how relaxing it is to work in the kitchen. Just turn on some music and focus on the simple task at hand. No worries. No melt downs. Heck, even when I knocked over my big tumbler of water, I just laughed as I cleaned up (and played a little ice cube soccer with the pup).

Food Prep Takes Stress Away…It Really Does
Two hours of my time to save me hours during the week. So simple. Yet it’s too easy to fall back into that bad habit of mine — sitting on the couch scrolling through a Twitter feed.

Not only is that bad habit a waste of time, but it added to my stress. How many times I felt rushed to try to cook meals for my family. A little bit of food prep yesterday and I saved 20 minutes this morning making a Swiss and mushroom omelet for my mom. My husband just reached in the fridge and quickly put his lunch together (my meatloaf the day after is awesome!).

No fuss, no muss…or stress eating!


Keto Day 5 — Feeling Horrible

Yesterday I attributed my low energy level to purging the last bit of bad carbs out of my system (A.K.A. The Low Carb Flu). Well today I woke up with a sore throat. After drinking lots of hot tea, taking medicine and napping on and off today, my sinuses are a runny mess. Ugh!

Fingers are crossed that it’s just a mild head cold.  The silver lining in being sick? I have no appetite.  Well that’s one way to shed some re-gained pounds.

Off to bed again.


Keto Reset – Day 4: Finding Time For Myself

stress

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and David Castillo Dominici.

I’m 4 days into my keto reset and I’d love to tell you I’ve been perfect. But because I’m Dot, you’d know that’s a crock! Two days in…2 days!…and I have a meltdown. The husband’s solution: Go out for dinner.

I ate as keto as possible — steak and steamed broccoli with butter. But el vino did flow. And how it flowed.

Stress. That’s my nemesis right now. I need a solution that doesn’t involve a corkscrew.

I used to have 3 sure fire ways to contend with stress: 5-mile walks, 5k training, and my spin class. Well only the spin class is an option right now and it ain’t available when I need it.

So now I’m determined to find time for myself. Any time. A minute here … 3 minutes there.

Letting Chores Go For Now
As I type this, mom is upstairs getting dressed and I’m looking at a sink that has 6 dirty dishes in it (yes I counted them … and I am lame). It has taken everything not to go and just load the dishwasher. After all, it takes minutes. I can come back to writing this blog post after…

But the truth is I wouldn’t. I know that once I do the dishes, I’m wiping down the counters, cleaning the stove, sweeping the floor… Then it’s time to make my mom’s lunch.

The dishes are gateway chores. They just lead to more cleaning.

They will get done like everything else … sometime. But focusing on my needs has to come first for now. And that will free up time for me to do…

What?!?

I Found The Time. Now What?
As sad as this sounds, my first thought is to do absolutely nothing. And when I mean nothing, I mean NOTHING. Just sitting. No tablet. No social media. No thinking.

Oh, sure, thoughts come to mine. Random feelings. Or noticing my leg is falling asleep. I did “nothing” first-thing this morning, and that’s then it hit me: this is what “Mindfulness” is about. After months of reading about mindfulness – and not getting past the mumbo jumbo – I finally achieved it by doing jack squat.

Hurray!

Doing nothing definitely de-stresses you. But I need a little more than nothing in my life.

Sure enough, after about 10 minutes of nothingness, the old idea hamster started spinning the wheel again. That idea hamster was loaded with ideas for me to do in my spare time. But that idea hamster is also an “ideal” hamster. Lots of ideas on what to do, but nada on when to do it.

Then it dawned on me – create a morning ritual! Plan activities that de-stresses and energizes me to start my day right.

I’m up before anyone else, and that gives me a good 30 to 90 minutes before the house stirs. Instead of wasting that time on Twitter (a major time suck!) or chores (there’s always time later), I’ll use that time for my own mental and physical health.

First up, nothing … ummm … I mean mindfulness ... I’m going to sit in my recliner (feet up) with the day’s first cup of coffee and do nothing, think about nothing, for 10 glorious minutes.

After that, 20 minutes of stretching. That’s more than enough time for my calf exercises and to work on the rest of my body. Plus, it always puts me in the cheerful mood. I’m all about cheer right now!

Lastly, I’ll spend a whopping 2 minutes on gratitude. I’m moaning a lot lately, but there’s an awful lot in my life I take for granted. I think a little appreciation every morning can turn my inner Eeyore into the more optimistic (and cuddly) Pooh Bear.

Yes, it’s only 30 minutes out of the day, but it’s my 30 minutes.

If I do this right, it’ll jumpstart my day, and keep me from dreading it and all the tasks lying ahead of me.


Keto Reset Day 2: What Am I Eating?

For the challenge I decided to take another look at my macros. Normally I like to take a look at these numbers about every 6-8 months. Well with my weight gain, limited movement and doing this reset, it’s a perfect time to revisit my macros.

While I’m not focusing on calories, I want to stay within 1400-1600 kcal a day. For the reset, my macros break down as 68% fat, 27% protein and 5% carbs.

macros

I’m not going to fret about hitting my macros spot on every single meal. I’m using this as a guide. On days I am really hungry, then I’ll add more fat. Those days where I’m not as peckish, then I’ll cut back on fats and carbs.

However, I’m going to still go with eating my typical daily protein range of 12  – 14 ounces (84g – 98g).

If you want to calculate your macros, there are 2 keto sites I use that have easy calculators: Ruled.me and KetoDietApp.com.

Getting Strict With Food
I decided to follow Dr. Eric Westman’s guide for going very low carb. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m track all the carbs I eat. No more eliminating fiber from my carb count. I’ve made a few tweaks but that’s because I’ve discovered certain foods I’m snacking on way too often like cheese and nuts.

Which means I’m reducing the amount and variety of vegetables I’m eating. And berries are forbidden this month and maybe longer.

So what exactly am I eating and avoiding? Drum roll please….

Dot’s Food List

Animal Protein

  • Grass fed beef, lamb, veal, venison
  • Free range pork
  • Free range eggs, poultry
  • Wild caught seafood (nothing battered)
  • Uncured, sugar-free bacon, ham, and deli meat

Leafy Greens: Up to 2 Cups/day

  • Cabbage (all types)
  • Greens (all types)
  • Lettuce (all types)
  • If it is a leaf, I can eat it!

Non-Starchy Vegetables (1 Cup/Day)
Below isn’t a complete list but gives you an idea

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cucumber
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers (bells & chilies)
  • Pumpkin
  • Radishes
  • Snow peas/Snap peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

Fats & Oils: Cooking

  • Bacon fat
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Chicken fat
  • Duck fat
  • Ghee
  • Lard
  • Red palm oil
  • Tallow

Fats & Oils: Dressings, sauces, flavoring and eaten cold

  • Avocado oil
  • Butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Macadamia nut oil
  • Mayo
  • MCT oil
  • Sesame oil

Foods In Limited Quantities

Cheese

  • Allowed up to 2 ounces in a day; I’m only allowing this 2 times a week
  • Includes hard, aged cheeses like Swiss and Cheddar
  • Brie, Camembert blue, mozzarella, Gruyère
  • Cream cheese, goat cheese
  • Avoid processed cheeses like Velveeta
  • Check the label: carb count should be less than 1g per serving

Cream

  • Up to 2 tablespoons a day
  • Includes heavy, heavy whipping or sour creams
  • No Half and half or milk
  • No milk

Mayonnaise

  • Up to 3 tablespoons a day

Fatty Fruits & Other Foods

  • Avocado: ½ per day
  • Olives (black or green): up to 6 in a day
  • Nuts & Seeds — while allowed I’m actually giving them up for the reset
  • Condiments
    • Lemon/Lime Juice: up to 2 teaspoons in a day
    • Reduced sugar/sugar-free ketchup in very small amounts
    • Soy Sauce: up to 2 tablespoons in a day
    • Pickles (dill or sugar-free): Up to 2 servings in a day

Snacks

  • Packaged/deli snacks should be less than 1g of carbs per serving
  • Pepperoni slices
  • Pork rinds
  • Jerky
  • Ham
  • Deli meat roll-ups with cheese
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Salami

Sweeteners

  • Stevia drops
  • Monk Fruit
  • Erythritol
  • Xylitol

Do Not Eat List

Sugars

  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Corn Syrup
  • Beer
  • Milk
  • Yogurts
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit

Starches: “Complex” Carbohydrates

  • All grains
  • Rice
  • Cereals & oatmeal
  • Flour
  • Corn
  • Cornstarch
  • Breads
  • Pastas
  • Muffins
  • Bagels
  • Crackers
  • Beans and peas
  • Most root vegetables – carrots, parsnips, corn and potatoes (all types) as well as French fries and potato chips

Fats to avoid

  • Margarine & hydrogenated oils
  • Mayo made from soybean oil
  • Salad dressings with more than 1-2g of carbs per serving
  • Avoid “lite” or “low fat” or “Fat-free” foods because these are commonly higher in carbs and loaded with sugar.

While it is just day 2, I’m really feeling great. I’m already sleeping better and my energy level and mental focus are much better. Woo hoo!


7-Day Fasting Challenge: Day 3

Yay! Three fasting days down, just 4 more to go.  And I’m feeling awesome! Day 3 was easier than Day 2 by far. My energy returned. And that ravenous feeling I had the day before disappeared.

Like Day 1, I stayed busy all day. So there were no stray thoughts about food. I was just too busy to eat. And today I was lifting lots of heavy boxes and home office equipment. I may have missed my workout on Tuesday, but I had plenty of resistance training today.

I will add that I got very hungry after I was done with all the heavy lifting. That was expected and I just rewarded myself with a tall glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  That’s the way i role on a fast!

I did have two little hiccups. The first appeared in the form of a minor headache. Since I’d had to get up twice last night to go to the bathroom, I knew I lost a little too much sodium. A nice cup of bone broth with about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt fixed me up in about 20 minutes.

The second happened around 6:00 p.m. That’s when the husband cooked his dinner. I went up stairs, thinking of the phrase “out of sight out of mind.” Well, that doesn’t really work when it comes to smell. Wow, that was a tough one. But I prevailed.

Opps! Forgot About Measuring Burning Fat?
During an extended fast it can take between 2 to 3 days before you reach full ketosis. Ketosis is a natural state where your body is almost completely fueled by fat. Normally on Day 1 of my fast I would track my ketone levels (ketones are small fuel molecules, produced in the liver from your body fat). However with all the excitement with my mom’s unexpected hospital visit, I completely forgot to measure my ketones. Ugh!

Well better late than never. Tomorrow morning I’ll start tracking my ketone levels. I’m using the urine sticks (you basically pass the stick through your urine stream).  Besides getting a reading first thing in the morning, I plan to also test my ketone levels after having my morning coffee and afternoon bone broth.

I’m just curious to see the effects both have on my fat burning.

Day 4 is coming up next and my biggest challenge is I’ll be home, working 10 feet away from my refrigerator. Here boredom is the enemy.

But between cleaning the basement, picking out a new kitchen sink, counter top as well as the color we’re painting our cabinets, I’m thinking I’ll have a pretty busy day.


Conspiracy To Keep Me Out Of The Gym

fight

I can’t prove it, but I suspect these 2 conspired to keep me at home and away from the gym this week.

After a week of taking it easy so my ankle can start healing, I was ready to hit the gym. Albeit, in a very gentle way.

So what does life toss at me? First up, a lethargic 17-year-old cat who refused food for 2 days.

Spider has kidney disease. We know at some point we’re going to have to make the “quality of life” decision. A few days before kitty stopped eating we noticed his jumping skills declined sharply over the last few weeks. Missing easy jumps. Falling off furniture (and not landing on feet).

The next up he refused food and instead just wanted water. More and more water. Read More