One Year Later- RESULTS!

My photos from a year ago popped up on my phone this morning.  I saw a pic of where I was at then and I had to of course compare it to now, 6 or so months into a ketogenic lifestyle.

The second picture was this morning.  Of course I had to make a dorky face.  Might as well if you’re taking bathroom selfies, and flexing no less.  I think I look leaner and more defined.  I’m probably only a couple pounds lighter.  I started lifting heavier and increased my lean muscle mass while cutting a bit of body fat.

In the “before” pic I was very fit, working out very hard but not getting the results I wanted.  I remember thinking I should be getting more out of the work I was putting in.  I wanted to be leaner but, as much as I knew about health and fitness, I wasn’t sure how to go about it.  I knew just cutting calories wasn’t a great plan because cutting calories is a sure fire way to slow your metabolism which is like shooting yourself in the foot.

I have to admit this all pure vanity stuff.  Of course I want to be healthy but when it’s five pounds plus or minus it’s pretty much aesthetics.  I’ve had three babies but I really wanted great abs.  20180608_1309022006147604.jpg

Goal: accomplished.

I don’t do crunches or count calories.  I just keep my carbs low, eat plenty of healthy fat and protein, and lift challenging weights.  When I do cardio I keep it very short with HIIT style workouts.

My belly button looks wonky and I have plenty of stretch marks, but they’re badges of honor.  I just want to be the best version of me and honor what my body has accomplished.

 

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Age in Reverse

Yesterday I came across this photo of my husband, his mother, and I from 2011.  This was 7 years ago.  I would have been 24 or 25.  Still a youngin’ by any reckoning.  I was taken aback though, because I seriously look younger now, at 31. oldcicic

Yes, I know, my husband is really tall.  It leads to awkward hugs and a constant battle over the driver seat settings in our cars!

At the time I was dealing with severe chronic fatigue.  It was starting to dawn on me that I had celiacs disease.  But it took a long time to give up wheat.  It took time to grieve the fact of all that I had to give up.  I loved pizza and pasta and sandwiches…and just eating like a “normal” person.  Plus, at the time, the gluten free options were limited and pretty gross.

I knew my potential future though.  I come from a very large Irish Catholic family and virtually all of my dad’s 10 sisters had MAJOR auto-immune health problems.  Lupus, celiacs, hashimotos, R.A. just to name a few.  I didn’t want to live sick and die young.

I gradually made changes as I learned.  I went from eating a standard american diet to a more natural anti-inflammatory diet.  I cut back on sugar (I was a major sugar junkie!) till I eventually cut it out together.  I also have to avoid preservatives, MSG, carageenan, nitrates and soy lecithin.  If I eat any of these triggers I will feel like absolute death.  My body is just hyper-sensitive to inflammation.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself because I have to eat a very limited diet, I choose to see it as a gift.  It forces me to be accountable and eat well.  I mostly embarked on my health journey in order to feel better.  I’ll be honest, I’m not there 100%.  I still have days were I feel exhausted.  I still slip up and eat food I shouldn’t.  But I’ve come so far.  My health issues started me on a path not only towards healing, but towards optimized health.  The journey has been tough at times, but I’ve learned so much along the way.  For that I am grateful.

Not to toot my own horn (ok, maybe a little!) but I think I look younger now then I did then.  When you take care of yourself, it shows.  Especially as you get older. 20180510_0909142132568400.jpg

Make smart choices to feel better today.  Make those smart choices into your habits and routine.  Those smart choices will have a cumulative effect, one of them being a more youthful appearance, and who doesn’t want that?!

The Fat-Adapted Athlete

Exercise and fitness have always been really important to me.  It’s my natural antidepressant!  So, naturally, I wanted to discover how and why my ketogenic diet may affect my fitness abilities….

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Mommy Athlete!

Your body can only store so much glycogen.  Often marathon runners “hit a wall” after burning through their stored glycogen.  They often take sport gels and drinks so they can keep going (and not collapse…!).  It’s the body’s preferred method of fuel, though there is a finite amount of what the body can store in the muscles and liver.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  However, if you are a fat-adapted athlete you have almost unlimited energy you can tap into.  Even a very lean person with 10% body fat has about 54,000 calories of energy stored in the form of body fat- which he can easily access.

If you are an athelte in ketosis, you have literal days of easily accessed energy…. Versus two hours as a sugar burning athlete.  fat adapted athlete

What is really interesting is that in a state of ketosis you stay in your fat burning zone longer and burn much more body fat- 230% more body fat  than you would on a high-carb diet.  You stay in the fat burning zone up to 75% of your VO2 max, as opposed to under 50%.  Which means you can work out harder before you get into an aerobic zone.

This really mimics my own experience.  I’ll be working out really hard but I’ll stay in a fat-burning zone, at the same level exertion that used to leave me huffing and puffing.  I’m burning fat as opposed to glucose.

I’ve also noticed it took time to transition.  When I first started I really paced myself, so I wouldn’t place undue stress on my body.  A little stress is good, and forces adaptation.  A lot of stress is bad and causes too much inflammation.  The article above states that it takes athletes at least 5 weeks to fully transition into being efficient, fat-burning athletes.  It is a huge metabolic overhaul, after all!  I saw that too.  I had less stamina and explosive power the first 2-3 weeks.  When I would push past 75% VO2 (perceived exertion) my body did not like it.  I got dizzy and even nauseous.  Though I am now about where I was before in terms of VO2 max.  I know this because I like to push myself to the limit with HIIT and Tabata style workouts.  I saw an initial hit to my cardio power and endurance but that has leveled out.  Workouts are even starting to feel easier!

If you’re an athlete and worried about a decrease in your performance, do some research and stick it out.  The decrease is temporary and you’ll come back stronger than ever!

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How many push-ups can Chuck do?    All of them.

 

The Gun Show

This is actually going to be a legit post and not just an excuse to show off my sweet lady “guns”… I promise 😉

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Wow, a lot of pasty whiteness going on up above.  *shrug*  It’s February in Minnesota and we too poor for a Hawaii getaway and too smart to tan in a booth.  But anyhoos I am a lady who lifts.  Ever since I saw Linda Hamilton kicking ass and taking names in Terminator 2, I’ve been inspired with a fitness warrior mindset.

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Beast Level: Expert

It’s an extreme look, definitely not everyone’s cup o’ tea.  Heck, even I don’t want to look quite that shredded.  But it is insanely inspiring.  You won’t look like this though unless you are training with commandos 2 hours a day and on an insanely strict diet.

You also won’t turn into a frightening female bodybuilder with quads like oak tress from hitting the weights room a few times a week.  I’ve been lifting weights for years and I still look like a girl.  The ladies who don’t usually are using questionable substances to alter their sex hormones.  Estrogen works to build denser muscles.  That’s why you can put on lean body mass (muscle) and gain weight but look smaller.  For instance, I’m ten pounds heavier than I was ten years ago but roughly the same size.  

Weight lifting causes your body to release a cascade of hormones that keep you young, healthy and more resilient.  If you want to avoid osteoporosis and frailty as you get older you need to go get a barbell, girl.

Another reason I lift is because of my role model who happens to be my mom.  She is 57 and is still hitting the weights and challenging herself.  We often swap workout videos!  She’s been lifting weights since the 80’s and she has a vitality and joy for life which is unusual for women even 20 years younger.  Plus she looks great!

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After a color run, can you tell which one is my mom and which one is my sister? 😛

If you want to get started and don’t know how, don’t be afraid to get a trainer or pick up tips from a gym rat friend.  I’ve mostly stuck with videos because I can do them in the privacy of my basement.  I’ve assembled quite the collection of equipment and videos over the years.  I usually stick with Cathe Friedrich workouts because she is simply the best.

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Lady Beast

She’s 53 and as crazy fit as ever.

Start lifting now.  Do it for your body composition.  Do it for your bones.  Do it for your self-esteem and a vitalizing sense of empowerment.

Find your inner lady beast!  Or if you’re a dude and made it through till this point- your inner man beast!