The Nerdy Side of Low-Carb

Just like most of the world, I am no stranger to weight loss attempts. Low sugar, Weight Watchers, calorie counting, the list is endless. When my doctor gave me the choice between going on medication and starting a low-carb lifestyle, I opted for the low-carb lifestyle without hesitation. I am now rounding out the fourth week of this new lifestyle, a little lighter, maybe a tad cranky, but more aware of my body and what it needs.

In order to fully understand what is happening in my body and the science behind why a low-carb diet might be beneficial while also promoting weight loss.

Let’s get nerdy: carbohydrates turn into glucose in your body, high levels of glucose promotes the production of insulin which stores the glycogen to be later used for energy. When you limit the carbohydrates going into your body, you start to burn off the glycogen that is already stored and then your body turns to the fat next. Essentially, eating a low-carb diet is the epitome of using food for fuel.

Without a doubt, the low-carb diet has had the most impact on not only my body, but also my level of awareness for how my body is functioning. Currently, I am eating approximately 100 grams of carbohydrates a day. I am no longer hungry all the time, I don’t need overly sweet food to satisfy me, starchy foods don’t taste as good as I remember them, and I can actually feel and sense how my body is using the food I provide to fuel it.

Overall impact in weeks one – four: within the first 10 days, I lost 9 pounds, actual weight loss slowed dramatically once the water weight was gone and my body adjusted to the new food intake. I do still miss the foods that were my favorites, but that is getting better as I am finding new foods to satisfy that desire. One odd negative is that muscle aches and pains can occur with low-carb diets, one night this week I woke up with a terrible charlie horse in my leg, it lasted about 10 minutes, otherwise I haven’t experienced any bad side effects.

Finding new recipes and foods to enjoy has been one of my favorite aspects of this new adventure. My last shared recipe was Baked Eggs and Sweet Potato Hash. Today, I’d like to share my latest creation: Meatball Lasagna Zucchini Boats! Remember, I am not a chef and I don’t keep track of measurements, I am a quick and easy cook so feel free to get fancy!

summer

 

For the Health of It

Carbohydrate is a dirty word. Who knew that a simple carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecule could cause so much frustration in twelve days? As you may remember, last week after going to the doctor for the first time in eight years, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and chose to adjust my diet and lifestyle in place of medication. The choice itself was a little outside of my usual operating procedure, usually, I would opt for the most direct route to a solution, and in this case it seems as though that would be medication. That is, if you assume the solution is to just relieve the symptoms and side effects of my hormonal imbalance.

On the surface you could categorize relieving symptoms as a success, but if you take a deeper look into the route that landed me in the position to make this choice in the first place, the solution is not just to stop the symptoms. The solution is to live so that the cause of the symptoms is eliminated and the only way to do that is to overhaul my lifestyle. While I am surprised at my initial choice, I am proud for choosing the journey instead of the easy fix.

There seems to be a cycle that anyone goes through when trying to change their lifestyle, specifically when trying to move to a healthier diet. In my experience it has looked like the following:

  • EXCITEMENT: “Yay! I’m going to do this!”
  • PREPARATION: Search healthy foods and recipes on Pinterest, shop, take pictures of meal prepping. “Look at me being healthy!”
  • INITIAL PUSH: High self-control, trying new things, feeling good, continue researching. “No cake for me! I’m being healthy!”
  • WHINY: Limitations begin to get boring, tracking food intake is frustrating, you’re starting to miss old foods. “I miss french fries!”
  • ONE BAD DAY WON’T KILL ME: The downfall as I gorge and eat a bag of fun sized Kit Kats and half a pizza for dinner. “Ugh. I’ll start again tomorrow.”
  • OVER IT: Back to old habits. “It’s too much work. I just want to live my life”

This has been my process for the countless times I’ve taken it upon myself to attempt making a change. Always back where I started, even after losing thirty pounds. The slow road to gratification in an attempt to lose weight is not enough to sustain my motivation. Food tastes too good, laying around in my pajamas all day is too comfortable, and getting take out is just too easy to replace it with cooking all day, everyday.

All of that seemed to change when I had a medical professional looking me in the eye telling me it was now affecting my health in noticeable ways. Not that it COULD, not that it WILL, but it IS affecting my body’s ability to function properly. Changing my habits no longer required as much intrinsic motivation, I had a tangible reason to hold onto that keeps be from moving beyond the WHINY phase. It doesn’t matter if it’s boring, frustrating, or not as delicious, it is necessary.

The direction I was given was to try a low-carb diet and incorporate exercise into my daily life. I took my preparation phase seriously, looking for information in PCOS, the purpose of carbohydrates, standard foods for a low-carb diet, and recipes that could replace the carbs in the meals I typically make for dinner. Week one was about figuring it out and finding some things I like, week two has been about solidifying the process. I dabbled in the whiny phase this week, but the difference is, instead of coming home and digging through Justin’s side of the pantry, I drank some water and dove into making dinner. One small choice at a time, that’s how I’ll be keeping myself out of the ONE BAD DAY WON’T KILL ME zone.

One of the reasons I was able to avoid digging through our stock of junk food was because I had put together a delicious recipe earlier in the week and was excited to make another batch. One for dinner, and one for Saturday morning breakfast. Below is my recipe for Baked Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash, please keep in mind that I create meals as I go so I do not have exact measurements.
summer-1

 

Chef Spaz

I am, by no means a chef. I can hold my own in the kitchen but usually that comes from my inclination toward improvising in the kitchen. I tend to have a very difficult time following a recipe. I don’t know why, but I get flustered, something gets burned, I don’t know what some of the words mean, and I end up stressed and sweaty by the time I sit down. Whew, following a recipe is a workout!

Lately, it seems like there are an abundance of services that send you materials or products in a monthly box – usually a subscription service. I’ve been curious and interested in about 98% of them but never could justify the cost in our household budget. In an effort to experiment and try new meals in the kitchen, I’ve been most interested in the meal service subscriptions, but still, I’ve never fired the shot and tried any of them.

Enter our super awesome neighbor.

Last week, I got an interesting text from our neighbor, offering me a “complete meal” but she needed to explain and that she was in the backyard. I debated whether or not she seemed like a the type to order a mob hit and then ventured toward the back of the house. She had received three HelloFresh meals that she wasn’t going to be able to use and was offering me one of them, I went for the beef stirfry.

A little nervous about what I was getting myself into, I put the meal into the fridge and gave myself a few days to work up to it. On Sunday afternoon, after three days of very little activity, I decided I needed  a good workout and went to the fridge for the HelloFresh meal.

hellofreshI followed the directions the best that I could, and for the record, the meal turned out very well even though I have no idea how to mince garlic, peel and prepare ginger, or how to chop bok choy. I only slightly burned the beef after becoming distracted by the slicing of vegetables, and only ended up with beef marinade on half of my body. While I felt like a supreme spaz, I managed to make a pretty decent meal. The directions were clear and had a few pictures to aid in the process, the recipe incorporated a couple of new foods into my world (bok choy, ginger, and jasmine rice), and gave me a new meal to add to my rotation.

Overall, I would say that the experience was a success. And yes, I was sweating when I sat down to eat. While I still don’t think that I could justify room in our monthly budget for a regular subscription, I do think that services such as HelloFresh could provide a solution for those that don’t have the time to shop on a regular basis and are looking to make smaller amounts of food. I was excited to have access to new foods, with very specific instructions on how to use them, it will undoubtedly be a source of inspiration as I plan meals in the future.

Lucky for me, that super awesome neighbor dropped off four more meals last night and I have a whole fridge full of new foods to try this week!

One box subscription service tried – 10,000 to go.

 

Throwback Thursday: Dammit Cheryl, Again

#TBTSometimes I wonder if when we are struggling with something if we seek out the people that we know will push us forward toward success. It’s not surprising, right? As humans, we look for support and validation from the people that we know will support and validate us. Enter, again, Cheryl.

While my shift toward positivity and kindness have taken shape in my life, I have continually struggled with getting back to a healthier lifestyle. I’ve tried to get motivated and it seems to last all of five minutes before I head to the kitchen for a bowl of Lucky Charms. Whew, that was a long five minutes of healthy eating! The struggle didn’t get any easier as the weather got warmer and everything just started to feel hot and uncomfortable. Everything, include every clothing item I own, outside of my yoga pants, of course.

While sitting outside with my friend, we’ll call her Cheryl, at work this week, I was telling her about my lost motivation. She took that as a personal challenge to give me the ultimate pep talk and kick my ass in gear. It must be the pirate in her…

Sitting across from her she laid out her super plan for me for next week, customized for my uber lazy ways. By signing on for Cheryl Bootcamp I am agreeing to only one Tim Horton’s run and one night out to eat next week. Everything else must be what I have at home. No exceptions. Her first step is for me to just get back into the habit of preparing food and planning for the week ahead. She was so animated and serious about everything I couldn’t help but just smile at her.

“You’ll have so much fun!” she says.

foodCoincidently, it was also my night to do my mid-week grocery shopping trip so I made some adjustments to my list and made my way to the store. After unpacking everything at home, I found myself standing around in the kitchen while my parents, Justin, and my grandma were discussion options for a new roof, I thought of Cheryl and figured, well…if I’m just standing here, I might as well do some food prep. I made breakfast yogurt parfaits for the rest of the week, cut up all of my strawberries, cut up my bell peppers for my hummus, and portioned everything out in ready to go packs. I’ve even got plans to set my crockpot before bed so dinner is ready to go before I even head out the door in the morning. Here goes nothing!

You might recall that Cheryl has been a contributing factor to making me choose a healthier lifestyle before. Right around the beginning of our 10-10-10 at work, which I started and never made it beyond week one. Cheryl, on the other hand has lost over 40lbs since then. I suppose, if you’re going to enroll in an unauthorized Bootcamp, this one has earned some credibility. Lord only knows what she has in store for me for week 2.

We’re throwing it back to March for this Throwback Thursday with my last run in with Cheryl and her health pep talks. Enjoy Three Small Things!

Three Small Things

Dammit Cheryl.

So, I have this friend, we’ll call her Cheryl. Cheryl and I work together and last week she sent out the e-mail blast to our entire agency announcing that the annual 10-10-10 weight loss competition will be starting on March 7th. 10 dollars, 10 weeks, 10 pounds. Anyone that loses 10lbs at the end of the 10 weeks gets to split the pot of cash. The catch?

YOU HAVE TO BE WEIGHED IN AT WORK!

slap-unhealthy-foods-out-of-my-handI have been on diets/lifestyle changes all of my life. I’ve been successful, I’ve been…not-so-successful, I’ve taken breaks, I’ve made great strides…you get the idea. One thing I have never cared about is the actual number on the scale. I try to stay consistent and track my weight when I am doing well with my health, but it’s never anything I put a lot of faith in. I’m of the philosophy that if I feel good, that’s good enough for me.

Last year when the 10-10-10 was happening at work, I was actually in the middle of my first #100HealthyDays, I was eating extremely well, I was working out almost every day and I was making progress. I wanted to participate but for the first time, I really felt this hate for the scale. I didn’t want to HAVE to step on a scale and have another person I work with track my weight. It’s something that just seems unmotivating and has always made me not want to participate in any kind of workplace competition.

Enter Cheryl. I responded to her e-mail with “I want to do this, but I SO don’t”. It took her all of 10 minutes and 4 e-mails to convince me to do it. And now she calls me Vanessa. I prefer Winnie the Bish. We’re strange people.

So, here I am, again. Counting down the days before I have to start focusing on my health again. I know it’s important, I really do. I know that I have far exceeded my time as someone who can be a binge eating couch potato without any lasting effects to my overall health. But. There’s always a but. I have find the motivation to actually focus on eating properly and incorporating physical activity into my daily life. It’s a lot of work, and if I don’t have the motivation, I just won’t do it. So, I will be turning in my $10 on Monday March 7th and I will be making three commitments to myself for the next 10 weeks. They are small, but they are what I feel I can take on right now. I will:

  1. Eat Fruits & Veggies at EACH meal
  2. Track My Activity and Food Every Day
  3. Drink at Least 64oz of Water Everyday

No big hashtag show, no monthly fee to pay, no depriving myself of things I enjoy, just three healthy commitments to myself that I know I can strive to achieve, no matter what the next 10 weeks throw at me.

So, Cheryl: You’re On!

Love, Vanessa (But really Winnie the Bish)

winnie the bish