Keto: Long Haul

I started my keto journey January of 2018, so I’ve been at it for almost a year and a half.¬†¬†Definitely¬†not perfectly.¬† I’ve had long periods away, but¬†it is something I keep coming back to.

Speaking of going in and out of ketosis; it is ok.¬† You will actually gain metabolic flexibility as you regularly change up your diet.¬† I know I don’t suffer from “keto flu” anymore, ever.¬† My body seems to go easily in and out of ketosis.¬† It’s adapted and can go “with the flow”.

Why?¬† It works.¬† Keeping insulin low and ketones high is a great way to stay healthy, happy and lean.¬† Never mind what Jillian Michael’s says.¬† It may not be the best diet for¬†everyone,¬†but it is the best diet for¬†many.¬†

I remember really struggling with a few things early on.  Things that have naturally resolved.  First thing; keto breathe.  Good lord, that horrid ketone breath!!  Mine was so bad that I avoided kissing my husband unless I had just brushed my teeth.  It took quite awhile but it eventually went away.  Now I only get the tell-tale breath if I am deep in ketosis.  Like dark purple on a ketones pee-stick deep.  So, to newbies everywhere; there is hope!  Just stick it out and buy lots of xylitol gum until your body adapts.  And it will adapt!Image result for bad breath

Speaking of funky smells and ketones; can we address so-called “keto-crotch”?¬† I call bull$hit.¬† If anything, you will smell¬†better¬†because you aren’t feeding yeast that is so often behind a “funky” feminine odor.¬† No yeast, no smell.¬† Well, it may be a bit more complicated than that, but not by much.

Another thing is my anxiety about wanting to¬†do it the right way.¬†¬†I think I really did myself a disservice in getting way too wrapped up in wanting to do it right.¬† I put the opinions of “internet experts” ahead of my own.¬† I think that is ok, for a time.¬† Though it get’s old, fast.¬† There are so many ways to do keto.¬† Seriously.¬† If you are consistently in ketosis, you are following a keto diet.¬† It may be paleo, dairy free, vegetarian, whatever…it’s ok to customize it to your lifestyle.¬† If you find a style of “keto” that works for you,¬†you will be so much more likely to stick with it.¬†

I’ve been pretty consistent this past month and I am really enjoying the benefits.¬† My skin looks better than ever.¬† I feel so much less achiness due to inflammation.¬† I can tell my body is just¬†happier.¬†¬†

What benefits have you noticed from following a keto lifestyle?  Thanks for reading!

 

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Biohacking, Fitbit & Sauna

I promised I was going to play around with my fitbit in the sauna to verify or “poo-oo” the claim that you can burn up to 600 calories.¬† I just did, and the results were interesting, to say the least.¬† 20190507_1247185115327417851559147.jpg

Upon first entering the sauna, my heart rate was around 65 BPM.¬† Within just a few minutes it was up to 79. I sat awhile longer and my heart rate got up to 110 and seemed to max out.¬† I then realized I should try kneeling on my bench in front of the heating panels.¬† That way I would have more close contact with the heating panels, absorbing much more of the heat. Plus the heat naturally rises to the top- so I’d be exposed to higher air temps.¬† Wow, wow, wow.¬† That made a¬†huge¬†difference.¬†¬†

My heart rate quickly shot up into the 150’s.¬† I started burning calories and sweating like crazy.¬† It was a much more intense experience.

Sometime soon after snapping this photo I thought to google “can I bring a fitbit into the sauna”.

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21 minutes in, following my “epiphany” ūüėȬ†

No.  The answer is no.  Dope!!

I didn’t want to destroy my new-ish fitbit, even for science.¬† I quickly chucked it out.

I am really glad I did bring it in though.¬† I don’t know if I would have discovered that kneeling on the bench makes the burn rate so much higher!

I’m in pretty good shape so to get my heart rate up into the cardio zone takes a lot.¬† Apparently kneeling in front of infrared heating panels will do it.¬† I calculated that for a woman my size, kneeling in the sauna for 30 minutes will burn 304 calories.¬† It may not sound like a ton until you realize that if I spent that time jogging I would only burn 202 calories!!¬† I think I’d much rather relax in the sauna!¬† It is the equivalent of doing a very intense workout.

So, yes, according to my results; you can burn a ton of calories (up to 600 in 30 minutes for an average sized man!) in the sauna.

 

 

Guess Who Got a Sauna?!

I’ve been feeling super stoked because I got something that I’ve wanted for a very long time!!!¬† Any part-time bio-hacker dreams of owning their own infrared sauna! ūüėȬ† I’ve had a hard time convincing my (decidedly less health-minded) husband that we need to spend a hunk of change to get our own¬†infrared sauna.¬† But this past month his mom came into an inheritance and wanted to gift us some money.¬† Exactly the amount we needed for the sauna that I’ve been eyeing.

How cool is that?! 20190503_1536343894269969267820704.jpg

This beauty is now residing in our basement.¬† This¬†is the model I got.¬† It fit exactly with what we had to spend.¬† It’s definitely a smaller model, but we really didn’t need or want anything huge.¬† It’s low emf and made with Canadian hemlock.¬† It smells amazing, especially when it is heating up.¬† It’s got blue tooth so I can listen to music, podcasts or even watch tv with the very decent speaker system.

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My codependent dog doesn’t know what to think of it!

We’ve had it up and running for a few days and it has been wonderful.¬† I’ve been dealing with a cough/sore throat so it’s definitely been helping with that.¬† I work at Starbucks so I get exposed to¬†everything¬†(thank you- whoever invented the “medicine ball” drink and inspired countless sick people to run to sbux to get one ūüôĄ).

I won’t get super deep into the science about the benefits of using an infrared sauna.¬† The main thing for me is sweating out toxins.¬† We’re all exposed to so many on a regular basis, anything we can do to assist our natural detoxing pathways is going to be huge.¬† With an infrared sauna you get a “deep sweat”.¬† The infrared heat warms you up from the inside out, almost like wringing out a rag.¬† It forces toxins out that wouldn’t come out otherwise.¬† Sweat and Toxins¬†The infrared heat is more gentle than a traditional sauna, and penetrates deeper into organs and tissue.¬† My sauna tops out at 145 degrees¬†but that is plenty!¬†¬†After about 20 minutes I am sweating like crazy.

Another crazy cool benefit is the calorie burn.¬† Because your body is being heated up, your heart rate increases as your body works hard to cool itself.¬† One study¬†found that a 150 pound man burned 600 calories during a half hour session!!¬† Not bad!¬† I am charging up my neglected fit bit to track how many calories I burn in my next session.¬† Burning as many calories as you would doing an intense workout while relaxing…?¬† Um, yes please!

Last but not least for me is the relaxation factor.  I, like many moms; have a lot on my plate.  I tend to be a little stress ball as it is.  There is just nothing relaxing like therapeutic heat to melt away stress and help with tight muscles.  So far I have definitely noticed less back/neck pain and tension.

I plan to keep using it every day, as time allows.¬† I’ll use it mostly after workouts.¬† I’ll get sweating faster and it is awesome for recovery.¬† Evidence shows that using a sauna massively amplifies the natural hormonal release following exercise.¬† You can increase your human growth hormone (the youth hormone, basically) by up to 32%!¬† There also benefits for your brain, muscle endurance and insulin sensitivity.

There are a lot of healthy things that you can do for your body that aren’t¬†super fun.¬†¬†That is one reason why I love the sauna so much.¬† It is truly something that is so very beneficial for you in so many ways, while also being very enjoyable.

Image result for yoo-hoo big summer blow out sauna
No Limits on “Yoo-hoos!” and “Big Summer Blowouts!”

 

 

Healthy Keto Options

One thing that I have really enjoyed with the increase in the popularity of the keto diet has been the increase in recipes and ideas permeating the web.

An idea that was all my own was making a quick “reeses” substitute with dark chocolate and natural peanut butter.¬† I take a piece of 86% dark ghirardelli squares or bouchard probiotic chocolate and top it with a generous amount of peanut butter.

It hits those peanut butter+chocolate cravings, is low-carb, and so good!  Three bouchard chocolates and about 2 tablespoons of peanut butter will get you about 8.5 net carbs.  Definitely a treat!  If you have the will power to stop with one you are only taking in about 3 or so net carbs.

I’ve also found a great recipe for a very quick “mug bread” that can work with many keto recipes.¬† This recipe is not unique to me, I’ve seen it on many different pages.¬† It works great for a hearty breakfast sandwich.

Or you can add a bit of keto-friendly sweetener and make toast with peanut butter and butter.  Yum!! 20190429_0911528213668304395050310.jpg

With the keto diet’s ever increasing popularity- there are more and more options for recipes and cheats that leave you feeling full and satisfied.

Keto@Starbucks?!?

One of the things that I’ve noticed, working as an sbux barista; is¬†the¬†explosion¬†in popularity of the keto diet.¬† I’ve seen so many people coming in and ordering “keto” drinks¬†the wrong way.¬†

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No, no, no…

You know who you are.¬† You want the grande breve (with heavy cream!) with sugar-free syrup.¬† Low-carb does not automatically equate to healthy!¬† Heavy cream is awesome, I love it- I use it every day.¬† But¬†not¬†two cups worth.¬† Good lord!¬† If you order a grande latte made with heavy cream you are going to be getting a whopping 1,642 calories!!!¬† For some of us smaller females; that is nearly our entire calorie allotment for the day!¬† If you must order a latte drink, go for a traditional breve made with half and half.¬† Get a tall (small).¬† You will bring the calorie count down to a much more reasonable 315.¬† There will be ten carbs but, we are counting this as a “treat”, right?¬† And calories do still matter.¬† You can not drink cups of heavy cream on the regular and lose weight. *SMH*

My other issue is the use of the sugar free syrup.  The chemical used to sweeten the syrups is sucralose.  Here is a great article on why that is very bad news if you care about your liver, healthy gut bacteria and blood sugar control.  Sugar free syrup also contains maltodextrin, probably from corn.  Maltodextrin is definitely something you want to avoid.  Last but least is the preservative; sodium benzoate which has been linked to cancer.

I know, I am raining on a lot of parades right now.¬† But I see people coming in and ordering drinks just¬†loaded¬†with these franken-syrups and it drives me nuts.¬† I know it can be really, really hard to give up sugar and the “sweet treats” in our lives.¬† We can still enjoy treats but we have to be smart about it.

So what do I do?¬† I carry a little plastic container of a natural sugar substitute in my purse.¬† When I get coffee, I usually order an americano and add a bit of my sweetener and a good amount of half and half.¬† It is really, really good.¬† No artificial chemicals necessary!¬† There are so many options for keto-friendly sweeteners¬†to choose from.¬† I usually buy a few bags of different sweeteners and combine them into a gallon baggie and shake.¬† When mixed, they tend to cancel out the aftertastes that can happen.¬† I’ve even found that I really enjoy light roast coffee with just a sprinkle of cinnamon.¬† If you can wean yourself down you can get the amazing antioxidant boost and fat-blasting power of coffee,¬†without¬†any harmful chemicals.

Bio-Hacking on the North Shore!

Hey guys, sorry I haven’t blogged in forever!¬† I wasn’t really following keto for a long time.¬† I was just living my life, eating all the carbs, still loving my slightly squishier body!¬† ūüėČ

Which was all fine and good until I struck with the¬†most diabolical stomach bug.¬†¬†Like, not the usual 24 hours.¬† This thing was the energizer bunny of stomach bugs.¬† I had five solid days.¬† The first day was so bad I couldn’t hold down even fluids.¬† The rest of the days I was very queasy and not able to eat hardly anything.¬† It was pretty suck-y.¬† Not going to lie, but I chose to focus on the good.¬† I zoomed back down to my lowest keto weight.¬† My body actually went back into ketosis during that period.

I got better then realized, “hello, abs.¬† I missed thee!”

I really like being at my “fighting” weight and I knew the only way to stay there was to go back to strict keto.¬† Which I have been doing, happily.¬† Really, what is bread when you can have macadamia nuts, bacon, cheese-covered¬†everything?!?

I am back in the game and excited to get back to regular blogging.¬† I’ve got a lot of fun topics I want to address!!

But back the title topic- the North Shore.¬† Up here, in Minnesota, when we want to “get away” we go¬†up North.¬†¬†“Up North” could range from a 40 minutes north of Minneapolis all the way up to the Canadian border, eh.¬† A favorite destination is Duluth and the North Shore of Lake Superior.¬† It was my husband and I’s 12 wedding anniversary so we went up last weekend.¬† Image may contain: Sierra Rose, smiling, standing, ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature¬†We stayed at Larsmont Cottages and I highly recommend it.¬† It was beautiful, secluded and right on the lake.¬† I was so delighted when I realized they had a traditional Finnish sauna about 20 feet from the water.¬† Of course I immediately started plotting how to get my husband to do some kind of polar plunge with me; alternating between the sauna and the freezing water.¬† Just like real Scandinavians! ūüėČ And it would be a¬†polar plunge,¬†people.¬† The lake never really gets warm enough to swim in, especially not in April when there is still some ice on the water.¬† The water was around 35 degrees F, according to this source.¬† Brrr!!!¬† We met a couple of other people who wanted to do a polar plunge as well.¬† The first night, aided by peer pressure and more than a little champagne, we get into a tide pool that was about ten degrees warmer than the lake.¬† The second night we jumped into the actual lake.¬† My husband, who was¬†very¬†reluctant actually said this was the highlight of the trip.¬† It was great to do something a bit crazy and get out of our comfort zone.¬† We both felt really great afterwards, too.

We also spent about five hours hiking Gooseberry Falls National Park.¬† We went really early before the crowds got there.¬† It was amazing.¬† At this time of year, the water level is so high.¬† The sheer power of the river itself is overwhelming.¬† We both remarked on how thankful we were to be in good health and able to navigate some of the trickier trails to see the best views of the river.¬† It was great to have a reminder of¬†why¬†I work hard to stay in shape.¬† I want to be able to live life to the fullest….Image may contain: 1 person, tree, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor, nature and water

Image may contain: tree, sky, outdoor, nature and water

Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor, water and nature

Image may contain: Sierra Rose, smiling, standing, tree, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: tree, sky, outdoor, nature and water

Image may contain: 2 people, including Sierra Rose, people smiling, bridge, outdoor, water and nature

If you can ever visit, you should!  We also met so many wonderful, friendly people.  We ate amazing food made with local ingredients.  If you can try a lingonberry cocktail, do it!  And with all of our hiking and cold water hijinks; I some how managed to not gain back any weight.

I hope you all are doing well.  Thank you for reading!

One Year Blog-iversary!!

This time last year I embarked on a new life style with keto.¬† There’s been lots of ups and downs and lessons learned along the way.¬† It has definitely been worth it though.¬† I still believe, at least for me, that keto is the best way to eat.

After a lot of Holiday indulgences, I have been really getting strict.¬† I’ve had a good week where I’ve hit 25-50 grams of carbs a day.¬† I feel like my extra holiday “wiggle” is melting away.

I know I’ve said it before (I’m a glutton for learning the hard way!) but being strict keto is so much easier than a more lackadaisical approach.¬† If I am eating a little sugar, it quickly escalates to “more” sugar.¬† If I eat it, I want more.¬† If I cut it out, the cravings go away.¬† I feel much more content.

I’ve been aiming for more protein this time around.¬† I listen to the ketogenic girl podcast and she has had good results with incorporating more protein.¬† I’m not a huge meat eater so it’s been an effort to eat more chicken and beef.

Another big thing I have been doing is drinking pour over coffee.¬† Why?¬† Well, it tastes better for starters… but more importantly; it’s a much¬†cleaner¬†cup of coffee.¬† I was recently slightly horrified to learn that virtually¬†all¬†coffee makers have aluminum heating elements.¬† The water is being boiled by the hot aluminum.¬† This is a big deal because, especially over time, more and more aluminum is being deposited into your coffee.¬† Here’s a video on the topic from Dr. Dennis Crouse… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmt9keoVz08

You can hunt down a coffee maker without aluminum but is isn’t easy.¬† I packed away my coffee maker and bought an inexpensive ceramic pour over. 20181202_0850206085283468224575690.jpg

It takes about the same time to make, or maybe even less.  I boil some water in a glass tea pot then slowly pour the hot water over fresh coffee grinds.  The resulting coffee is aluminum free and well worth a little bit more effort!

I’m not a big tea drinker but I’ve been trying to branch out and try new things.¬† One thing I have discovered that I love is cold matcha lattes.¬† I work at a Starbucks so I first tried them there.¬† Nom!¬† But sadly, the Starbucks matcha powder is half sugar by weight.¬† It tastes good, but is definitely¬†not¬†keto friendly.¬† I picked up this unsweetened matcha at Wal-Mart today. 20190109_160049-15035507395074814450.jpg

I blended a tablespoon of matcha with slightly less than a cup of half and half (or breve, if you’re used to Starbucks jargon!) and a tsp. of pyure sweetener.¬† It was just as good as the starbucks version but much healthier.¬† Clocking in at about 10 grams of carbs instead of the 30 you’d get from the Starbucks version.¬† I’m not a tea person but this drink really hits the spot.¬† It’s great for a sweet afternoon “pick me up”.¬† You’ll get energy without jitters along with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Anyways, thank you for all of you who have read the blog through this past year.  I hope your new year is off to a wonderful and healthy start!