End of Summer (Hallelujah!)

“Stop growling at me!”

“Put those scissors down now, you are not giving the dog a haircut!”

“Well just hit him back…”

These are all things I have said to my children in the recent timeline in the adventure of my life.¬† To say I’ve been stressed is an understatement.¬† To make issues worse; my middle child (Gabe) gets¬†really¬†severe seasonal allergies this time of year.¬† It’s been tough to venture out at all.¬† He gets purple circles around his eyes and his eczema flares up terribly.

Whatever constitutes as my “self-care” has totally been back-burnered. Er, just pushed off the stove all together.¬† The pan is cold, dusty and the contents are congealed.

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My Self-Care Jello Salad

I’ve been on and off the keto wagon.¬† I even did a memorable 3 day “zero-carb” stint.¬† It’s been major struggle bus all summer.¬† I need alone time.¬† I need quiet.¬† I need to be able to vacuum without worrying about my daughter expressing herself artistically on our van with a sharpie.¬† True story.¬† It happened.

When I am stressed it is just so hard to stay away from the snickers and other feel-good carbs.¬† I know eating sugar really exacerbates my stress and anxiety but still… the struggle is real!¬† I’ve also noticed that when I fall off the wagon I tend to balloon up immediately.¬† At first I thought it was fat, but then I realized that it’s extra water and glycogen.¬† And…some fat too.

I just keep trying to keep a good perspective.  The number on the scale is not that important in the grand scheme of things.  I know soon my stress levels are going to go way down.  It might coincide with the arrival of a giant yellow vehicle.

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If you’re a mom and you don’t get excited for back to school….we can’t be friends.

Back to the zero carb, or “carnivore”.¬† I know, it’s crazy.¬† I decided (crazy person that I am) that I should at least try it.¬† The good; I had almost no cravings.¬† I felt very calm and focused.¬† I like cheeseburgers.¬† The bad; I felt tired and definitely got hit with some keto flu or die-off or¬†something. ¬†Digestion was¬†not great. ¬†Not to say I wouldn’t try it again, maybe as a “reboot” before going back to regular keto but I wouldn’t want to do it long term.¬† It’s crazy restrictive.¬† It’s plain crazy.¬† People who end up on zero carb long term usually have to because they have severe auto-immune issues and react to¬†salicylates in vegetables.¬† It makes sense because plants technically can’t run to avoid predators.¬† They produce compounds to avoid being eaten or digested.¬† Think beans.¬† Cows notoriously have 4 stomachs to break down grass.¬† We do not.¬† I also know that when I do eat a meal of veggies (like a huge salad) I usually end up feeling gross, full but somehow not satisfied.¬† If I ate a big, juice (bunless!!) burger I feel really good.

I’ve learned quite a bit about the zero carb movement and it does make sense to me.¬† It also doesn’t seem as crazy as it did at first.¬† It’s something I’ll keep on my radar for sure.¬† If you curious about zero-carb, check out Kelly Hogan’s amazing¬†story.

Hopefully I’ll be back at regular blogging with more adventures and self-experiments.¬† I’d also like to have more of an emphasis on intuitive eating and health over weight loss.¬† I’ve definitely realized that if you are approaching your diet with a single-minded focus on your weight and size, you are probably going to end up feeling miserable and deprived.¬† Especially if you don’t lose weight as quickly as you hoped.¬† If you approach your diet as a holistic plan to be healthier and to feel good, those inevitable weight fluctuations won’t bother you so much. ¬†

Net Carb Revelation

I don’t know why I haven’t made the connection until now (because I was aware of how net carbs work) but up to this point I’ve been counting total carbs, and trying to stay under 40 grams or so.

The body fat has been melting off like candle wax but this is unsustainable for obvious reasons and difficult to maintain.

What is the difference between a net carb and total carbs?¬† In simple terms you subtract grams of fiber from the total carb count to get net carbs.¬† Example: a serving of avocado has 12 grams of carbs, but a whopping 10 grams of fiber, so the net total would be only 2 carbs.¬† That’s why images of avocados are so¬†ubiquitous in the keto movement!¬† I ate two last night.¬† ūüėČ

Why?¬† Because these fibrous carbs are largely indigestible.¬† We eat them, but we can’t break them down enough for them to contribute to actual carb/sugar energy for our body.¬† They do, however, have an enormously positive impact on digestion, gut health, and even¬†lowering¬†blood sugar levels.¬†¬†Total Carbs vs. Net Carbs

Some people chose to go by total carbs.¬† Some people chose to go by net carbs.¬† Some crazy-dedicated people go¬†zero¬†carb.¬†¬†Zero Carb¬† I’m all about doing what works for¬†you¬†but I wouldn’t recommend going zero carb.¬† Mainly because there are so many benefits from eating low-carb, fibrous veggies.¬† Without them it is possible to “starve” your healthy gut flora.¬†¬†Fiber and Gut Flora¬† Fiber feeds our beneficial bacteria just as much as sugar feeds parasitic bacteria.¬† We’re just beginning to understand how critically important our microbiome is for our total health and well-being.¬† But simply, if you want to be healthy, keep your gut happy!¬†¬†human-microbiome.gif

It seems for the most accelerated weight loss, you want to keep total carbs at 20 grams or lower.  That goes for people who are pre-diabetic or just very carb-sensitive.  If you want more of a maintenance program you can loosen up a lot and count net carbs.

At this point, personally, I’m thinner than I’ve been in probably 6 years, since before the pregnancy of my last baby.¬† I’m going to investigate a weight maintenance program soon.¬† Because it isn’t healthy for women to drop too much body fat.¬† We need a base line of at least 15% for healthy hormonal function.¬†¬†Women, Health, Body Fat¬† I want to stick with it as a lifestyle though.¬† My skin looks great.¬† My thinking is clearer.¬† I’m not plagued by sugar cravings.¬† My anxiety has been greatly reduced.¬† I’m still nourishing my body and eating 1,500-1,900 calories a day, depending on my activity level and hunger cues.