Recipe

Recipe: Greetalian salad

Guess who’s feeling hella productive today and typing this up on their phone on lunch at work? It me! 😊 apologies in advance if there are weird formatting issues…. Again, I’m on my phone. 

As promised, here is the Greetalian salad that I’ve been *obsessed* with lately! For simplicity’s sake, I’ll tell you what brands I use – but ofc, use whatever brands you want. That’s not crucial for the deliciousness of the salad.

  • 200-300g iceberg lettuce, or however much lettuce you want. I use a lot of lettuce. A lot.
  • 4 slices Great Value thin sliced hard salami
  • 4 slices Land O Frost oven roasted turkey
  • 17 Hormel Turkey pepperonis
  • 28g Athenos feta cheese
  • 20g onion
  • 0.5-1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/4 tsp Cavenders Greek seasoning
  • 3 pepperoncinis
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste
  • Optional and would be bomb af: kalamata olives, tomato

Slice up the lettuce. Layer the salami, turkey, and pepperoni slices and roll them up in a log. Slice and put on salad. Add the other stuff. Use the oil and vinegar as dressing. Top with the Greek seasoning. Mix it all up. It’s a salad, you know how to put a salad together! 😂

Oh, and before you go “why 4 slices/why 17 pepperonis?” – that’s the serving size and I’m lazy, so it’s easiest to enter exactly one serving in my fitness pal 😆

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Moving on after a binge

[You may have guessed by the title, but this post is about binge eating and disordered eating habits. If that’s triggering or upsetting for you…. skip this post]

So.
This past week and half has been… not great, food-wise. Super not great, binge-eating-wise. Basically as not great as it’s been in a long, long time.
And I’m not exactly sure why, to be honest. Yes, I’m tired. Yes, I’m adjusting to a massive life change (going from 0 hrs/week of work and 0 hrs/week of commuting to 40 hrs/week of work and 10 hrs/week of commuting – that’s a big change). But there wasn’t some big….trigger. It just happened. I fell back into old habits and was out of control.
Anyway. I binged a lot the past week and a half. Like, a lot a lot. Like, up-10-lbs-in-mostly-water-weight-but-also-some-real-weight a lot.
And I don’t know what was different about this time, but it lasted…. so long. It wasn’t a one-night binge, it was a 10-day bender. I had a few non-bingeing days in there, but for the most part… nah, it was bad.
Like, unable to sleep because my stomach was so painfully full of food that I *wished* I could throw. That kind of bad.

SO. Yeah, I didn’t really talk about in on instagram while it was happening, because while I know that (the vast majority of) you guys don’t judge me for this issue, it’s still really personal and occasionally I do get a dickhead commenting shit like “Well why don’t just stop eating” or “Didn’t you just binge last week” or some thoughtless, uncaring garbage like that, and that’s the last thing I need to hear while I’m still in the grip of a binge monster mindset. Trust me – I don’t enjoy this. Disordered eating habits aren’t fun; they aren’t cute or sexy or cool; I don’t stuff my face with thousands of calories an hour just for shits and giggles. I know I’m not alone with this issue, but there are still some times where I just need to keep it to myself while I work through it. That’s how I process.

And I’ve finally come out the other side of this binge episode! Hooray! So anyway, here are a few tips that help *me* in moving on after a binge. They may work for you, they may not – but here you go.

  1. Drink water. I know, I know – sometimes you’re so stuffed full of food that the idea of putting *anything* else in your body is revolting, but it helps.
  2. Take a shower. Obviously this isn’t as applicable for a weeklong binge, because you’ve (hopefully) been showering regularly already; but for a one-nighter, this helps me a lot. Like literally washing myself clean of it. Bubble baths are also very nice.
  3. Write down how you feel during/after. It’s hard to think back and remember exactly how horrible bloated and distended and gross you feel – write it down. Keep a binge journal. Look back at it when you feel the urge next time.
  4. Get some physical activity. Now, this comes with a word of caution – I am not advocating trying to ‘undo’ a binge by exercising the calories off. NO. That’s a further sign of disorder, and it’s not healthy. But just getting up and going for a nice, relaxed walk can help – at the least, it’ll get your digestion going a little faster. Sometimes I do this, sometimes I don’t. If I have even the *slightest* inkling that I’m going to push myself too hard as ‘punishment,’ I abstain. That’s not worth it. I will say that, for me at least, it’s much harder to do the disordery over-exercising when I go for a walk outside. The gym setting makes it much more tempting for me to try to ‘make up’ for a binge with 3 hours of cardio. Being outside just feels nice and healthy and good.
  5. Grit your teeth and fucking do it. Sometimes it’s HARD. AS. HELL. to get back to eating right. Trust me. I know. I KNOW. Luckily, I usually reach a point of ‘ok, this is *enough* already’ where I get sick of my own bullshit and force myself back in line. It’s tough, but….nobody ever said that this was going to be easy.
  6. Bribe yourself. I’ll admit that sometimes I set myself food rewards – like, if I’m ‘good’ for a whole weekend, I can have {insert x} food at the end of it – as long as I log and track it and it fits in my macros. That part is key. It’s not ideal to reward yourself with food while….dealing with food issues……….. but you know what, desperate times call for desperate measures, and often times I’ll reach the reward set-point and realize I don’t want it. Like, I bribed myself with in n out for dinner tonight – but now I don’t want it. I’d rather have it for lunch some time later this week, like I usually do.
    • if food rewards are too tempting for you, use something else. 5 days binge-free = new nail polish. 15 days binge-free = massage. Whatever. Use your own reward system.
  7. Find a self-help resource that works for you. I personally love “Brain Over Binge” by Kathryn Hansen; I FINALLY bought my own copy of the book and workbook so that I can refer to it whenever I need. There are lots of books about binge eating, and different people respond to the advice differently. I never really connected with the school of thought that binge episodes are because of some deep, underlying emotional issue (I’ve had mental health/emotional issues my whole life; bingeing is new), so those books didn’t help me. Find something that resonates with you! I highly recommend checking your local library to see what’s available for free, first.
  8. Forgive yourself. Beating yourself up about it – “Ugh, I binged again, I’ve failed, this is awful, there’s no recovering, I undid all my progress, I may as well eat like shit forever” – isn’t healthy or helpful. Life doesn’t end with a binge. Like, yeah, I binged for 10 days. I gained 10 pounds. Did that undo the other 92 pounds I’ve lost? No. Does it erase the past 3 years of work? Nope. Is is permanent weight? No. 6lbs of it is already gone in *2 days* of eating on plan. Water weight is a fucking bitch. Binges are setbacks, not failures.
  9. Clean up. Get rid of all the wrappers and trash from your binge foods. Staring at them as punishment won’t make you feel better. Also, clean your fucking room. Wash your sheets. Wash your towels. Clean your toilet. Scrub your shower. CLEAN UP. For me, anyway, living in a lot of clutter makes me anxious and sad. I don’t notice it right away, but then I tidy up and it’s like a breath of fresh air. CLEAN UP. Unfuck your habitat. Start fresh.

So…. yeah. There are some tips. I hope they can help you. I hope (someday soon) that I can be DONE with binge eating, once and for all. But I’m trying to be patient – food issues are hard. They are. If it was as easy as snapping my fingers and being cured, I’d have done that already. I’m a work in progress. We all are!

Recipe

Recipe: Cream cheese cups

Ok, that’s the name I’m using for them. Officially. Cream. Cheese. Cups.
Guys, you are seriously going to rage when you hear how simple these are and how basic the recipe is – *I’m sorry* for taking longer than I said I would to post this. I’m still adjusting to life going from working zero time to full time, plus a 2-hour commute and the gym and meal prepping. It’s a lot. I’m trying my best!
ANYWAY.
This is what I’ve been eating for breakfast lately and they’re the bomb.com.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz neufchatel cream cheese (lower carb than regular cream cheese; check the brand though. Kroger and Philadelphia have ~1g net carb per serving; Great Value brand has 2)
  • 4-6 large eggs (I like 4 lately! Play around with it to see what you like 😄)

That’s it. End of ingredients.
SEE WHAT I MEAN, HOW EASY THESE THINGS ARE?!

Preheat your oven to 350. Soften the cream cheese, then combine it with the eggs. Mix it up (I use an immersion blender; a food processor or mixer would work too) until it’s like a soupy batter. Pour it into silicone muffin cups (I mix mine in a 4cup measuring cup for easy pouring) or a WELL-greased muffin tin (Note: I haven’t tried that; my old egg cups always stuck so I bought the silicone ones and love them). Don’t overfill! These *will* rise when they cook. I stick to about 1/2 full cups.
Cook at 350 for 25 minutes. Boom. Done.

Makes 12 cups, macros for 1 using my exact ingredients are:
82 cals / 0.7g carbs / 6.5g fat / 5g protein

Now, these are kind of like savory cheesecake taste. They’re not eggy to me, but it’s not like eating a big bite of pure cream cheese. You can totally make them your own – add cinnamon, splenda, spices, cheese, veggies, bacon, sausage, whatever! This is just the base recipe to get you going, and what I’ve been posting pictures of for a while. I haven’t gotten fancy with mine yet; I like the originals too much.

Oh, and – store these in the fridge. I keep mine in a ziploc container and they’re fine for a week. Maybe longer, idk – mine are always gone before that.

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Wrap up: dairy-free February

So, as part of an experiment inspired by Maria Emmerich’s book “The 30 day Ketogenic Cleanse,” I cut out dairy for the month of February. She says that as many as 50% of her clients have dairy sensitivities, and many don’t know it because they’ve always eaten dairy. So I wondered – is that me? I’ve eaten dairy basically since birth, so I’ve never known a life without it. Thus, #DairyFreeFebruary: no cheese, no butter, no cream cheese, no cream… none of my beloved Wake Shake protein. No dairy, full stop.

My results?

Basically… nothing. I didn’t lose more weight. I didn’t feel better. My acne actually got worse, which was a real kick in the teeth. My waist got slightly slimmer, but not a big enough change to chalk it up to anything but weight lifting, which I do 3x a week. I wasn’t less bloated (I’m never bloated to begin with) or any of the benefits that some people report when they cut out dairy.

So it’s bittersweet – on the plus side, I’m confident now that dairy doesn’t cause me to stall, or negatively affect my body. I’m one of those lucky people who just metabolizes dairy really well! Which is awesome, because cheese is the love of my life (my boyfriend and I joke that our wedding vows are going to be, “I love you and cheese the same amount.”) and creamy coffee is the reason I get out of bed some mornings.

But I can’t pretend like I’m not slightly disappointed. I went *hard* on being strict this month – keto without dairy is a real challenge! – and I lost a pound and a half. Yeah, that’s a bit of a bummer. I also cut out artificial sweeteners and stayed under 30g total carbs a day – aka strict strict keto – and my results weren’t any better than how I was doing it before (crystal light, diet coke, low carb tortillas, etc). It does feel like a lot of effort for not a lot of payoff, and I think anyone would be frustrated by that. I’m human. I’d seen people cut out dairy and lost 7 pounds in a week! There was definitely a part of me that hoped for a big whoosh like that. It didn’t happen.

And – as added proof – I weighed myself this morning after a full day of dairy (literally in every meal I had) yesterday – and I’m down 0.2 lbs. No regain from going hard in the paint on re-introducing dairy right away. Maria Emmerich recommended easing into it, adding in goat cheese first, then butter, etc – nah. I just went for it, and I not only didn’t gain weight, I lost it! That’s firm proof to me that dairy and I are pals, and I can go back to eating cheese and cream and butter with no worries.

Overall, it was an interesting experiment – but it was just that, and experiment. I don’t plan on trying this again. I gave it a full month with NO dairy, and I didn’t see improvement. I’m glad that I learned more about how my body tolerates food, I’m ecstatic that I can go back to eating my beloved cheese on the regular, and I’m proud of myself for making it through a whole month with no dairy!

If you’re interested in trying it, I say go for it! We’re all different, so your body may react differently than mine; you might feels worlds better and lose a bunch of weight, and discover a food sensitivity you didn’t know you had. Or you may be like me, and not see a change. You won’t know until you try it!

Recipe

Recipe: crockpot chili

Mmmmm, chili! Such a hearty, delicious meal. The easiest way to make chili keto is to remove beans, of course – but the canned beanless chilis are still usually quite high in carbs. I decided to make some of my own because I had a bunch of meat that I wasn’t in the mood to portion up – so into the crockpot it went!
This recipe is kind of an amalgam of 2 different keto chili recipes – KetoKarma’s Keto Chili, and Ruled.me’s Not Your Caveman Chili. Essentially, I used the meat from KetoKarma’s recipe and the seasonings from Ruled.me’s recipe, changed a few things to fit what I had on hand, added a few special touches, and hoped for the best!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 3.5lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 1lb spicy sausage
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with juice (don’t strain)
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 1/2 onion (120g)
  • 96g tomato paste (what I had leftover from making meatloaf)
  • 20g tomato bouillon powder
  • 2 tbsp ancho chile powder
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp adobo seasoning
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 cups water

Brown the meat and drain the grease. Put the meat in the crockpot. Chop onions and cook in pan until translucent. Add to crockpot. In a bowl or dish, combine all the other ingredients (except the water). Combine thoroughly, then pour over meat and onions. Add 1.5 cups water. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

It’s that easy!

For me, this made 12 servings (each was 207.5g; a bit under a cup), and the nutrition info came out like this:

screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-11-26-58-am
But be sure to make your own recipe on MyFitness Pal with all your exact brands if you want the most accurate nutrition info possible for your own version.

There’s not any bean-like chunks, so this is more of a….thick meat sauce chili, but I like that! If you’d rather have a different texture, try adding in low-carb veggies like zucchini or mushrooms. I’ve also heard that Amazon sells cans of black soy beans, which would be good – but I’ve never tried them.

Happy chili-ing!

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Battle of the macro calculators

Fuckin macros, man.
Macros – macronutrients – are the breakdown of how many grams of fat, carbs, and protein you eat in a day. There are all kinds of calculators online to give you the right macros for your height, weight, and diet.
But…. they can all tell you different things.
And it fucking sucks.
And it’s frustrating as hell.
WHICH ONE DO YOU TRUST?!

So here’s my comparison of 4 different macro calculators for keto!
For all the calculations, I’m using the same information (of course)
Height: 5’5
Weight: 151.4
Body fat: 30%
Deficit: 20%
Net carb level: 20g
Protein level (if asked): 0.8g per lb of lean body mass
Activity: sedentary

I’m sure I just lost a few of you there. Me? Sedentary? I go to the gym 5x a week! I work out for 1-2 hours a day! I burn 500-800 calories in a gym session! How can that be sedentary?!
Well. I had the same question. So I went to keto reddit and searched for “activity level” to look at the posts about it. The resounding conclusion: pick sedentary, unless you’re on your feet ALL the time. Like ALLLLLL the time. The activity level charts are based on a time when we, as people, were a lot more active – more walking as transportation, more active jobs, more playing outside, less TV/internet/etc. It’s misleading, and not really explained anywhere.
I spend 90% of my day sitting or lying down, and that’s sedentary af. The 3-5ish% of my day that I spend busting my ass in the gym just isn’t enough to qualify me as ‘lightly active’ or ‘moderately active,’ imo, and reddit agrees. So. Sedentary it is.

Up first: keto-calculator.ankerl.com (aka The Keto Calculator)
This is the calculator that I’ve used from the beginning. It’s the one recommended by /r/keto, and it’s nice and simple. You just plug in the information it asks for, and boom. It spits out your information.
My macros from the Keto Calculator: screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-8-05-43-pm

So. 1260 calories. Um… I’m going to be hungry on that, I know it. I’ve been that low before, and that was when I was binge eating a LOT. Because I was hungry all the damn time!! So let’s see what the next calculator says.

Number 2: Ketogains.com/ketogains-calculator (aka The Ketogains Calculator)
Since I’m following the ketogains 5×5 workout program, it’s only natural that I should check out the Ketogains Calculator. This one is a bit more…. involved than the first one. It breaks down your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and TEF (thermal effect of food – how much you burn by chewing and digesting) to get your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure.
This one also says to set your activity level not including additional exercise, aka, going to the gym. So for me, that’s a no-brainer – sedentary.
Then, you fill in how long you do certain exercises (cardio, weights, other) each day, and how many calories you burn doing them. Basically, you get 3 numbers for this calculator: cardio day calories, weight day calories, and rest day calories.
Here are my calories for a weight day (60 mins; I rounded down conservatively to account for time spent racking weights, etc):

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-8-21-45-pm

So my rest day calories are 1239; pretty close to my sedentary calories for the Keto Calculator – indicating that by sedentary, the Keto Calculator really *meant* sedentary (good to know! Bc it’s not explained ANYWHERE!!!). Weightlifting calories are a bit higher, which is nice!

Here are my cardio calories (45 mins, 8 cals/min, a conservative estimate):

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-8-24-46-pm

Almost the same – just about a 40 calorie difference.

Then you take this info, figure out your protein needs (mine is 0.8, as mentioned before, to preserve muscle mass), fill in your desired carbs, and manually adjust the fat grams to equal your non-exercise, cardio, and weight numbers. Definitely more work than the Keto Calculator, but I can work with these calorie amounts much better. However – not sure I want a different calorie goal for each day. I’m not paying $$$ to MyFitness Pal for premium to unlock that feature, and I don’t want to calculate it all by hand.
So. I could average these 3 numbers out, and get 1,445 calories per day, with this breakdown:

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-8-30-09-pm

That’s 20g carb / 85g protein / 114g fat

Number 3: Ruled.me/keto-calculator
This calculator is a new find for me. It’s by Craig, the ruled.me guy, who’s a big name in the keto community. It’s based off the formulas for the Ketogains Calculator, and it does things a little differently.
First of all, it asks whether or not you exercise. The first calculator doesn’t do that, and doesn’t say anything about eating back calories. This one uses the same descriptions of activity levels (sedentary = desk job; lightly active = daytime walking; moderately active = active day job) and that’s where I get confused. I do lift heavy 3x a week and workout for 5-7 hours… but is that really equal to an active day job? Idk. I’ve never had one of those.
A big difference of this calculator: it has my TDEE as a full 200 calories higher than the other 2, which puts my sedentary + no exercise calories at 1426/day.
But let’s see what happens when I add in my exercise. This calculator asks how many minutes of cardio and how many minutes of weights you do a day, and how many calories you burn per minute doing them – just like the Ketogains Calculator. I took the Ketogains 6.87 cals/minute value for weightlifting, stuck with 8/minute on cardio, and averaged out my times exercised for the week (so – instead of doing a cardio day number, weight day number, and rest day number, I took cardio 2x a week at 45 mins each [90 mins] and divided by 7 to average out to ~15mins a day; for weights, I did 60 mins x 3x a week / 7 days = 25 mins)
The result?

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-8-41-30-pm

So…. higher than the other calculators, for sure. That’s higher than my weight lifting day calories from the Ketogains Calculator, and almost *400* higher than the Keto Calculator.
But wait – there’s one more

Number 4: Ketodietapp.com/blog/page/ketodiet-buddy (aka The KetoDiet Buddy)
This is another new one for me, and I think I found it through instagram? I don’t really remember.
This one asks the same stuff – height, weight, body fat percentage, activity level, net carbs. However – it gives absolutely ZERO explanation of activity levels. Nada. None. Zilch. Doesn’t matter, since I’m putting ‘sedentary’ anyway, but that’s a bit of a flaw.
And then it gives you a few different eating level options, which is cool. It breaks down your maintenance needs, then a small (11%), moderate (22%), and large (33%) deficit. But I decided to stick with a 20% deficit, so I had to go to ‘custom’ goal and enter -20 to get this:

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-8-46-41-pm

Which is… not… really… like any of the other numbers I’ve gotten. The protein is LOW, in my opinion, and probably not sustainable with heavy lifting. I probably wouldn’t be hungry on 1388 a day, but it might be rough on cardio days.

So there you go.
I plugged in the same numbers to 4 different calculators, and got 4 very different calorie results, with over 400 calories/day difference between them.
1260 / 1445 / 1659 / 1388

So which one am I sticking with?
I…… don’t know. I really don’t know! All this work, all this research, and I’m still confused. For the time being, I might just average them all out and use that!

That would be 1438 calories:
20g carbs
85g protein (I’m sticking with this number)
113g fat

That’s almost exactly what the averaged result of the Ketogains Calculator told me (1g fat difference), which is interesting. That’s definitely the most involved calculator with the most explanation of the numbers, and I’m inclined to trust it. Or at least try it!

A note: If you DO use the Keto Calculator (which I have! For a long time!), this is the one where your activity level is all-encompassing; I would qualify as “moderately active” on this calculator. For shits n giggles, I went back and re-did my macors on the Keto Calculator as moderately active, and this time it told me 1588. Much higher than before, 100 cals higher than my averaged result, but still not the highest of them all.

SEE WHAT I MEAN? THIS SHIT IS HARD! I’ve been doing this for 3 years and I’m still not sure how much to eat right now. I’m going to try my averaged result (1438) until the end of the month and see how I feel. Hungry? Bingey? Tired? Or satisfied? We’ll see!
Edit: the non-round-ness of 1438 was driving me nuts so I rounded up to 1440 😂

Recipe

Recipe: sausage and veggie egg cups 

I made these sausage, daikon, spinach, and egg breakfast cups the other day, and I’m loving them! So here’s the recipe for those of you who missed it on instagram 🙂

  • 1 roll sausage (12 or 16 oz; mine was 12)
  • 170g shredded daikon radish, with moisture wrung out
  • 10oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 12 eggs
  • Muffin tin
  • Grease for muffin tin (I used the sausage grease – double duty!)
  • Spices and seasonings (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Brown the sausage; reserve grease for muffin tins, or discard. Mix together shredded daikon, spinach, and sausage crumbles. Incoporate thoroughly. Add any spices desired (I didn’t use any).
Grease the muffin tins THOROUGHLY (unless you just really love having egg crusty bits baked onto your tin), and divide the sausage+veggie mix equally between the tins. Make a slight indent in the center of each. Crack an egg into each cup, trying to get the yolk in the little indent you just made.
Cook at 375 until set to desired firmness; start checking at 12ish minutes. I done hecked mine way up and cooked them too long, so the egg got a little hard and rubbery, but they still taste good! Next time I’ll keep an eye on them.

Let cool, put in storage containers, et voila! Easy breakfasts!

Mine made 12 egg cups, and the macros using my ingredients were 188 cal; 1.6g carb / 15.9g fat / 9.5g protein each

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Intermittent Fasting: It’s worked for me, and then it hasn’t

Ok. So.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) seems to be especially huge in the keto community. Basically, for those of you not up to speed on it, here we go: you set an eating window and you only eat in that window each day. There are other versions – fasting every other day, fasting on weekends, water fasts, dry fasts, all kinds of fasts, every fast – but the most basic is that one. A common split is 16/8: you fast for 16 hours, and then have an 8-hour eating window. Some people push it to the extreme and do 23/1! But 16/8 and 18/6 are generally the ones that I see the most.

From a quick Google search (I adore Google; I live and die by the all-powerful Google), here are some benefits touted by IFers:

  • Hormone changes and cellular repairs: as you fast, insulin goes down, human growth hormone goes up, and your cells heal themselves.
  • Metabolism increase, weight loss, and reduction specifically of belly fat
  • Reduce insulin resistance, which is a big problem for those with type-2 diabetes
  • Reduce stress and inflammation of the body (ok, this one I didn’t know about, and I’m pretty stoked about it because the cholesterol book I’m [still] reading talks a lot about how oxidzed cholesterol and chronic stress are the leading factors in heart disease, NOT saturated fat! So maybe there’s a link here too??)
  • May be beneficial to heart health (ah ok yup, there it is, I kept scrolling and literally the next bullet point is about that…)
  • May prevent cancer
  • Good for your brain
  • May prevent Alzheimer’s
  • Help you live longer

Ok, so those are some pretty big claims. But mainly, I’m interested in point #2 – the weight loss and belly fat one. Because let’s be real here… I want to lose weight and the belly is a good place for it to vacate. If it caused booty fat loss I’d be RIGHT OUT. But I can definitely get on board with losing a little belly. Or a lot of belly, I’m just saying.

I didn’t start start out doing IF when I first started keto in 2014. I don’t believe I took it up until the late summer, when I had already moved to New York for grad school. I can GUARANTEE I heard about it on reddit, my source of all keto info back then.

And for a while, it worked for me! I didn’t drink coffee back then (only afternoon and evening classes, so no need to caffeinate myself awake), I was never a huge breakfast person, and then I would just… push through and have a big dinner. A huge, fucking dinner. I mean 1600 calories in one meal dinner. Do you know how hard that can be to eat? HARD. But I stuck with it, because it was ~the thing to do~ on the keto boards, and I didn’t want to feel left out, or like I was doing keto ‘wrong’ by eating 3 meals.

Looking back, I can pretty much tell the point where it stopped working. A little background on me at the time: I was massively depressed but refusing to admit it, all alone from my family and friends on the other side of the country, dealing with a horrible roommate situation, stressed out of my mind about grad school, and spending many, *many* days in bed trying to avoid life. Healthy, right? What better thing to add onto that than… periodically starving myself? Because if I’m being honest, that’s what it turned into (right around October, when it got colder and darker. Whaddup, SAD). I’d get hungry around 2pm, and I’d stubbornly refuse to eat. NO LUNCH. ONLY DINNER. THE IF WAY. I’d just drink more water, return to my bed, and scroll through tumblr and feel bad. It was… definitely on the very cusp of disordered eating, I can admit now. At the time, I felt like I had no control over anything else in life – my roommates, my lack of a job, my depression, my environment, feeling too stupid for school – so I could control my eating, and lose weight, and that would be productive.

And then it came crashing down and I was sitting in a psych student’s counseling office, sobbing about my life, and it became clear that what I was doing wasn’t working – in many ways – and trying to push myself to be hungry all day, and then painfully full, certainly wasn’t doing me any favors. So I gave up IF, got on medication, and felt better. And still lost weight, I’d like to add.

And then I tried it again last year – right around the same time, September/October. It worked great at first, again! I wasn’t hungry, I enjoyed having a huge 4×4 from In N Out as my dinner (I did learn my lesson and try to have lunch and dinner, as well as black coffee in the mornings), and I lost something like 3lbs in 5 days. Whoosh, goodbye weight! I did fasted cardio in the early afternoons, came home, had lunch, waited a bit, had dinner, and was done by 8pm. I liked having the structured cut-off point: no eating past 8pm. It was nice. Comforting. I’ve been a late-night snacker for a long time, but this was a good way to put a rule on myself to stop it. I liked the reduced hunger. I liked not having to plan out more meals: just coffee, lunch, and dinner. Less thinking. I felt great!

And then it stopped working again. I struggled more with binge eating. I’d feel doubly bad for bingeing and “failing” at IF for eating at 9pm. Or, I’d use the IF window as an excuse – “It’s only 7:45, I have 15 minutes to eat! Better eat everything I possibly fucking can, because *{insert dumb, wrong, disordered, binge-eating reasons}*. Sometimes I drifted back into pushing myself and ignoring my hunger cues, but with an added level of weird competition – ‘someone on instagram did a 19 hour fast? I’LL DO A 20 HOUR FAST TO BE SUPERIOR.’ It was dumb. They weren’t competing with me. It’s not a competition. Eating is not a competition unless YOU’RE IN A FUCKING EATING COMPETITION (capsing that for myself, mostly. I’m a competitive bitch).
I looked into more resources about binge eating, determined to fix that problem. I started reading “Crave” by Cynthia Bulik after a particularly bad binge (on an IF day), and one of her biggest starting tips was to eat breakfast. Every day. I scoffed – but I intermittent fast! Breakfast, schmekfast. And then a few days later, I binged again, and had to face the realization that…. this wasn’t working.

So I stopped again. This time, the tipping point was my birthday. I treated myself to a biiiiiiiig creamy coffee in the morning, instead of my usual black coffee with sweet n low. I love heavy whipping cream, I love coffee – put them together and I am in heaven – and I was just like, “What the fuck? I gave this up? Willingly??? And I’m still binge eating?????” It was like it just… clicked. What I was doing (IF) wasn’t working. May as well try the opposite of that (not IF) for a while. So I got more serious about reading about binge eating (again) and using the tips (like eating breakfast). That was 4 months ago, and I haven’t intermittent fasted since then.

So why am I attempting IF again, if both times I’ve done it, it’s led to… definitely not good mental results? I’m not sure I have a good answer for you on that. Maria Emmerich recommends it in her book “The 30 Day Ketogenic Cleanse,” and I’m trying to draw a lot of knowledge from that book this month while I get back to keto basics. I feel more prepared this time, more eager to experiment without holding myself to weird, impossible standards. I’m not pushing it to the extreme with 22/2 fasts (yup, I did that a few times. Not fun. Do not recommend). I’m starting slow with 16/8 fasting, and seeing how I feel. If I feel restricted, or tempted to binge, no more IF. If I feel fine, I can try 18/6 – but that’s my limit this time. I want to focus more on spreading out food to take up the whole window, not making the window as short as possible. If I’m starvingly hungry outside of the IF window, I’mma eat. I’ll try drinking water first, of course, because that’s just the smart thing to do – but I don’t want to use IF as a punishment for my body. I want to see if, by being smarter about it, it can actually help me for a little longer this time. In the future, maybe I can stick with 18/6 and do a day of 16/8 a week. Or something. I don’t know! I’m trying to find what works for me – really, really works for me – and this feels like the fairest try I’ve ever given IF, while being in the right mindset about it.

So…. that’s kind of my thoughts on intermittent fasting. And a whole lot more info about my mental health than I’ve ever really shared with you guys (surprise, it is not great, lmao. Ya girl’s a lil cray)
It works for me for a while. And then it doesn’t. But I like to keep trying, because it has all these benefits, and dammit I want those benefits, too! But this…. this feels like my last try. Third time’s the charm, right?

It might work for you. It might not. All you can do is try, and listen to your body.

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Kitchen gadgets I love and recommend

Alright, so, part of being keto is getting used to making a lot of your own food – so much of the ~convenient~ shit in stores is carbs, carbs, carbs. It definitely took some adjusting for me – I was never much of a cook before (I had a meal plan until my last year of college, and then I learned how to make…4-5 dishes, one of which was frozen chicken nuggets. Another was cornbread casserole, aka carbloaf), so there was definitely a learning curve.
I am, without a doubt, The Cook in my family now. It’s fun for me to try new recipes, and I’ve gotten comfortable enough with keto foods to be able to throw a few ingredients together into my own mishmash recipe that I can be fairly confident will taste good.

WHERE AM I GOING WITH THIS I DON’T KNOW

(pretend I thought this out and came up with a segue into the most helpful kitchen gadgets for keto)

Here are the gadgets I insist on having in my kitchen:

  • A food scale. This is a must! I actually have 4, but I only use 2 – a big one from Costco that weighs up to 30lbs with 0.5 gram/0.01 oz accuracy, and a little tiny pocket scale from Amazon that has 0.01 gram accuracy but only weighs up to 1,000 grams (about 3 pounds). I generally use the little one for small things – shredded cheese, macadamia nuts, etc – and the big one for meats and larger items that won’t fit on the small scale or weigh more than it can handle. Also – a heads up – if you buy that little scale from Amazon, it *will* think you’re a drug dealer for a while. You’ll get some weird recommendations, like little tiny plastic baggies. No, Amazon, I don’t sell coke. I just weigh my food, gahd.
  • An immersion blender. I’ve been talking this one up a lot lately on IG because seriously, I would be dead in the water without this thing. Mine’s a fairly old one from Braun that I believe my grandma got for us, but you can pick them up all kinds of places – Amazon, of course, and I’ve heard they’re a popular thrift store find. Mine has a few different attachments – an S-blade (what I use most), a whisk (that I lost), and a food processor jar thing; plus a little measuring cup that the S-blade head fits in perfectly (v crucial). Mine’s kinda like this one, but a different brand…and less fancy. I use the S-blade like, 99% of the time. I’ve used the food processor bit to turn granular Swerve into powdered Swerve, though. ANYWAY. This. Thing. Is. The. Tits. I use it mostly for eggs, because it gets a TON of air into them and makes them fantastically light and fluffy. Wanna eat 2 eggs but feel like you’re eating 5? Use your immersion blender to fluff those babies up. Also great for: bulletproof/butter coffee; mashed cauliflower; hollandaise sauce; whipped cream; soups/sauces (esp in the crockpot! Take the meat out, put the blender in, give it a quick whir and voila! All your sauce components = blended)… the list goes on!
  • A mini frother. I got one for $5 from IKEA, but if you don’t have an IKEA near you (which I no longer do either), there’s always Amazon (can yall tell I love online shopping? Or?). These are great for individual servings of whipped cream – it can take a few minutes and it doesn’t get suuuuper stiff, but it’s the easiest way I’ve found to make 2-3 tbsp whipped cream at a time; bulletproof coffee; foamy coffee; anything you want to froth, really. My mom loves mine so much that she bought one for herself, my sister, my grandma, and my friend’s family at Thanksgiving when we were near an IKEA. They’re seriously so convenient!
  • A food processor. I don’t use this one as much anymore, tbh, but it’s definitely a good thing to have and I used it all the time at the beginning! I have the Ninja Master Prep set that has a little food processor and a big blender. I like that the motor fits on both, but I do wish I’d gotten a kind that has a little pour spout so you can add ingredients while you’re processing – that’s kind of crucial to some emulsion recipes. Ah well. You live and you learn! The small processor is awesome for little jobs, and I mostly use the big blender to make cauliflower rice in large batches. I learned a trick online that if you add the raw cauliflower to the blender, pour in some water, and blend that, you get a big batch of cauli rice with much less mess than doing several batches in the small processor. All you have to do is strain the water out and you’re good to go. I thought it would make cauliflower soup, but it didn’t!

Honorable mention:

  • A crockpot. This is especially great if you work long days – I used to work 12hour overnight shifts in grad school, and the last thing I wanted to do was come home and cook something – because you can dump in the ingredients, set it on low, and it’ll cook it for you. So easy. We have 2 now – a little one and a big one – and they’re great for making big meat dishes. The only drawback (in my opinion) is that a lot of crockpot foods can have that same soupy-goopy-mushy texture. Also, they require forethought and planning. So if it’s 5pm and you’re like “Oh shit, what am I going to make for dinner???,” the crockpot isn’t going to help you. Unless you want to eat dinner at 4am. Which I do not.

So yeah! Those are my top 4 kitchen gadgets (and an honorable mention) that I love and swear by. I love them so much that I made my parents send me the immersion blender in grad school when I forgot to pack it – they never use it, and I didn’t want to buy another one – even in my cramped little basement apartment half-kitchenette, I made sure to have these four things. I had a damn hot plate and a microwave to cook with, but I made do! And then I bought a countertop oven and a crockpot eventually, but that’s a different story; I digress.
You don’t need a full professional kitchen to be successful on keto. You don’t need one of those $200 stand mixers (though lordt knows I would love to have one someday, just to feel like a real, fancy adult). You don’t need the top-of-the-line ultra-fancy everything; I get lots of my pots and pans at thrift stores or bargain stores like Burlington Coat Factory or Ross. Just stick with stuff you can use for all kinds of things, and learn to fucking cook!

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FAQ — Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How tall are you?
A: 5’5. Well, 5’4.75, but we’ll round up for my vanity.

Q: How long did it take you to lose 100 pounds?
A: A little over 2.5 years. I started in March 2014, and hit 100 pounds down on my birthday, November 4, 2016.

Q: Do you count calories? Or just carbs? Net carbs or total carbs?
A: I track calories, carbs, fat, and protein – all the macros. I use MyFitness Pal to keep it all sorted. I keep my net carbs at 20g a day or maybe 25g if I really pushed myself at the gym – but I also keep an eye on total carbs and try to stay under 50g/day of those to make sure I’m not relying TOO much on fiber and sugar alcohols. Having like, 100g total carbs a day – even if it worked out to 15g net somehow – would probably mess with ketosis for me.
(As of January 2018, I’m giving zero carb/carnivore keto a shot! Just a little experiment for a while until I get bored with it. I eat meat, eggs, cheese, and fats – trying to keep my carbs as close to 0 as possible)

Q: Do you use ketostix?
A: Nope! I talk about these more in this post, but I don’t monitor my ketone levels at all. I want keto to be a lifestyle – a way of eating – and if I get all wrapped up in constantly worrying about my “number,” it won’t be sustainable for me. Someday I may invest in a blood meter if I get super stalled on keto (and bored. and rich. and suddenly ok with the idea of stabbing my fingers all the time) but for now, I just stick with eating low carb and high fat.

Q: How do I get into ketosis?
A: Follow a ketogenic diet. It’ll happen.

Q: What’s your MyFitness Pal name? Can I add you?
A: I don’t give it out all willy-nilly readily available anymore – I did in the past and had some issues with people adding me on there for… not fitness reasons, and a few who just wanted another way to send me mean/nasty comments. Please ask via DM and I’ll probably give it to you – especially if you’re on keto.

Q: How many calories do you eat per day?
A: Currently 1440, and you can see how I got that number in this post right here!

Q: So should I eat that many calories too?
A: Maybe! Go check out a macro calculator (I compare four of them in this post) and see what numbers it gives you 🙂 Unless you’re my exact height, weight, activity level, and body fat %, my macros may not be your macros.

Q: What’s your exercise routine?
A: I’m doing the Strongcurves program by Bret Contreras, aka the Glute Guy. He knows his butts! And I want a butt. Perfect. I did Stronglifts 5×5 for a long time, but got bored with it. It’s a great program, but I felt…stagnant. So I switched 🙂
When I first joined a gym (in June 2016, already 90lbs down), I started off by just doing cardio – usually the elliptical, because it’s easier on joints than the treadmill – and would do that until I got tired. An hour or so. Then eventually I wanted to use some weight machines, so I’d people-watch and see how other people were doing it. If I really wasn’t sure, I’d look up the machine on youtube and see how to use it. Then I’d… do it until my muscles hurt, and use another one. There’s really been no ‘gym plan’ for me for a long time! I’d do literally whatever I wanted to do. It showed….minimal results, as you can imagine.

Q: What kind of watch do you use at the gym?
A: I used to use a Polar ft60 but now I have a Fitbit Charge 2! Here’s the band that I use.

Q: How does it compare to a fitbit? Which should I get?
A: I liked the Polar for when I was just going to the gym for my activity, and I was unemployed so I had plenty of time to move around throughout the day. Eventually, I stopped using it because I was getting into the “I burned so many calories, I can eat a little more…. and a little more……and everything I see….” mindset. After getting an office job at which I sit for literally 8 straight hours (with a 1-hour commute, sitting, each way), I realized that my hour in the gym really wasn’t offsetting my sedentary worklife. I like that the Fitbit counts steps all day and monitors my heart rate. I track my workouts on there to hit my weekly workout goal, but I don’t pay any attention to the calories. I have activity factored into my caloric intake; no need to eat them back.

If you just want to know what you’re doing in the gym – the Polar is fine. It has a chest heart rate strap, so you can’t wear it all the time; that’s not practical. It’s also good if you swim a lot for your exercise. The Fitbit isn’t waterproof.
If you want to focus on total daily activity, not just in the gym, then the Fitbit may be more your style. There are other brands that do the same thing, too, but I love the social aspect of the Fitbit app. So many people have one! I like the step challenges.

Q: How did you get started? What did you do?
A: I wrote a longer blog post about this a while ago, but here’s the jist: I was unhappy, I saw /r/keto on reddit, I read about it, got MyFitness Pal, and… did it. I didn’t phase out carbs, or do a transition period. One day: carbs. The next day: keto.
In the beginning, I had eggs for breakfast a lot (and bacon, ofc); usually a salad with fatty dressing for lunch; and some sort of meat + veg for dinner (steak and zucchini, taco salad, bunless burger, chicken sausage with cucumber salad).

Q: Was it hard to get used to?
A: Well, kind of. I missed the convenience of carbs – you can’t just order a pizza, or grab a bag of chips, or run to Taco Bell. It’s a lot more cooking and prepping than I was used to, but I actually came to really enjoy that. I like cooking, and I like making things, but I never knew how… so keto was a learning experience for me that ended up being really delicious and made me lose weight 😀
And I’ve always loved fatty foods (my dad hates them so they were banned from my house as a kid…. so guess what I sought out at every opportunity) so I had no trouble on that front.

Q: Do you follow a meal plan? Can you make me one?
A: I don’t! Never have. I know that ibreatheimhungry.com and ruled.me have beginner meal plans available to get you started on keto, and they’re also full of recipes! I’ve personally never liked being told *exactly* what to eat, and I spend a lot of my free time thinking about food – so I’d just spend the day looking at recipes and deciding what to make for dinner. I don’t try new recipes very often anymore; I have kind of a keto arsenal of go-to meals that work for me.
As for making you a meal plan…. listen, I hate to seem mean, but if I don’t even do it for me, I’m not going to do it for you – and if I did, it wouldn’t be free.

Q: How do you get back to keto after a cheat/binge/the holidays/the weekend?
A: You just have to grit your teeth and *do it* sometimes, unfortunately. There’s no real easy answer for this. After a cheat, I usually feel like garbage – which is extra motivation to get back to keto, because it makes me feel better. Same with a binge: that comes with a lot of guilt, and eating how I know I “should” eat makes me feel better. I also keep a little sticker chart on my wall – on days that I am ‘good’ (stick to calories and carbs), I get a star. On days that I don’t…. no star. I’m very motivated by little rewards like that, so it makes me REALLY want to get a star everyday. It seems silly and childish to motivate yourself with shiny stickers, but hey! Whatever works 🙂

Q: What’s your biggest keto challenge and how do you work through it?
A: Honestly, the FOMO – fear of missing out. It sucks to be out with friends and see them enjoying their delicious desserts, but there’s nothing sugar-free on the menu for me to enjoy so I’m stuck sipping my diet coke. Those are the moments that I’m most tempted to cheat – it’s not that I really want the cookie or whatever, it’s that I don’t want to feel excluded. But in those moments, I just have to suck it up and either plan out a great keto dessert for when I get home; excuse myself from the night and leave (whatever, by dessert time it’s over, no need for me to be at the table forever); or find something else to occupy me. If I have to drink 5 diet cokes for dessert to avoid eating carbs, I’ll do that.
When going to dinners or events where I can bring my own food (like a potluck, or Thanksgiving), I’ll just check with the host and make sure it’s alright – then bring a keto-friendly dish and make sure that’s on my plate. I had mashed cauliflower, low-carb stuffing, homemade sugar-free cranberry sauce, and sugar-free pecan pie at Thanksgiving. It was fine! I didn’t WANT the carby desserts; I had my own. (I mean, I ended up accidentally having a dessert that had WAY more sugar than my mom led me to believe – but that’s a different story).

Q: What is keto?
A: ????? You can Google this????? REALLY?????

Q: What did you pack to eat at work?
A: Ok, I had a weird job (in grad school) where I worked by myself for 2.5-12 hours at a time, and I ate by myself, no break room or anything… so lunch wasn’t a huge deal. I’d usually have a protein bar during a short shift, or I’d take a low carb wrap or salad for a longer shift where I’d need more sustenance. Nothing that needed refrigeration, because that wasn’t available to me.
I got an office job in March and now I have fridges available to me, and most days I’ll bring a salad for lunch. Sometimes leftovers, like crack slaw, and or I’ll have a wrap. Aaaaand there’s an In N Out 2 miles away, so I go there about once a week 😆

Q: How did your friends/family react to keto? To your weight loss?
A: They were/are supportive! My grandma, a very healthy (mostly) vegetarian who has long believed low-fat is the way to live is the most…. resistant to my food, but not outright rude. She just doesn’t *get* it, really. But she says she clearly can’t argue with the results, so whatever I’m doing must be working – as long as I’m healthy (which I am!).
My parents were very curious because they both grew up during the whole War On Fat – fat is bad, low-fat is good, non-fat is best; etc etc etc. So then suddenly having their fat daughter go “No actually it’s good for you and actually makes you lose weight” was a bit of a shock, I think. But they kinda stood back and watched and let me do my own thing – and as I clearly lost weight on it and felt better (my change in sleep patterns was a big plus for the whole family), they could tell that it was working just fine.
As for reacting to my weight loss – same thing. Everyone’s been happy and supportive for/of me, as far as I know. No Jealous Jennies who wanted to sabotage me; no friends who got distant now that I wasn’t their DUFF (designated ugly fat friend) anymore. It’s been really great. And of course – my bf has supported me the whole way too, and he’s a ketoer himself now!

Q: Have you had any surgery?
A: Nope! No weight loss surgery, no skin surgery. I’ll probably look into getting a brachioplasty + breast augmentation down the line, as those are the areas on me that bother me most. I have loose skin; it is what it is. For losing what I have, it’s really not bad. Everyone is different! Stay hydrated and use lotion – dry skin is less elastic (although my bf has lost 150+ pounds, has minimal [visible] loose skin, and apparently has NEVER USED LOTION IN HIS LIFE, the lucky duck. Those skin genetics tho).

Q: How do you handle shark week (aka that Time of the Month)?
A: Ok, be prepared to hate me… my period is really no big deal. It never has been. I’ve had cramps maybe… 5 times in my life. So I really just treat it like any other day.  I’m sorry I’m no help on this one!
Sometimes I’ll crave chocolate – so I budget some dark chocolate into my day. If I feel awful and don’t want to workout, I’ll try for an easier cardio day (endorphins help with pain, which I know is not what you want to hear when you’re in pain, but it’s true) or if it were really bad, I’d take a rest day. Maybe do a yoga video from Youtube? I think some keto girls I followed on tumblr would give themselves an extra 100-200 calories a day on shark week to help with hunger; some would stock up on Russel Stover’s sugar free chocolate and use pork rinds as their crunchy+salty snack.

Q: Omg, isn’t your cholesterol awful? 
A: NOPE. My cholesterol is great! Totally healthy and normal. The idea that saturated fats and dietary cholesterol = clogged arteries and poor heart health is a M Y T H that has been disproved many times since it was introduced in the 50s…but there’s a big long explanation behind why it’s still so pervasive (blog post to come!). You can thank the asshole Ancel Keys and his dumb “Seven Countries Study” for the myth. It’s junk science, and it sucks. ANYWAY. I recommend reading “Cholesterol Clarity” by Jimmy Moore for the *real* information about cholesterol, and how a high-(healthy!) fat diet is actually much more beneficial to your heart than any of the low-fat, over-processed, high-carb crap being peddled today as ~heart-healthy.~ That’s right; my bacon is better for my heart health than your Cheerios are, and you’ll never ever catch me taking a statin drug.

Q: Wait, why do you drink salt water?!
A: Short answer: electrolytes. Longer answer: eeellleeeccctttrrrooolllyyyttteeesss. Haha, kidding! Ok, this is not scientific at all, this is just how I understand it: keto affects how your body stores electrolytes. Like, salt kind of… sticks… To carbs. High salt and high carbs = bloating and water retention. But without the carbs to stick to on keto, your body dumps electrolytes a lot faster, so you have to replenish more often to keep your levels in check! Also, one of my medications has a side effect of low blood sodium, so salt is *crucial* to me. I add about 1/2 tsp of Himalayan pink salt to each liter of water, and drink that throughout the day. It’s basically Gatorade with no flavoring or color. And yes, it tastes salty – but it’s not like sea water. It’s lightly salted. I like the taste, tbh! Getting low on salt makes me extremely fatigued, grouchy, foggy, and overall awful. So I aim for 5,000mg of sodium a day (I track this on MFP too!) to feel good.
(UPDATE January 2018: I don’t really do this anymore since switching my macros to higher protein. With higher fat/lower protein, my body loved salt. With higher protein/lower fat, it doesn’t! Experiment to find what works for you)