Still going, still growing

It’s been two weeks since my last post and I thought I’d just check in to give a quick update on the ‘highlights’, so to speak.

I weigh in on a Monday and the first of the two Mondays that have passed since my last post left me a little disappointed. A 400g loss. Still, I tried not to let myself get too caught up in the numbers and reminded myself that I had strayed from the path the weekend immediately before said Monday. I did my best to make some good choices, but I went out for dinner at a noodle market, and really had no way of knowing how many carbs I had consumed that evening.

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‘Whipping’ up some keto pasta. Weird texture, but not bad.

For the rest of that week, I ‘felt’ as though I was gaining weight. Little insecurities such as, “Does my face look rounder than last week?” “Are my pants tighter than last week?” “Is my gut a little more in the way when I tie my shoelaces than last week?” played on my mind. I started worrying that I was eating too much processed foods (I do love a twiggy stick to curb after-dinner cravings) or that I wasn’t getting enough exercise – or, at least, the right kind of exercise. “Maybe walking after work isn’t cutting it!” “I don’t think I have enough left in me at the end of the day to go for a run! Arrgh!”

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Seed crackers – these are amazingly good and just maade for smearing avo on!

Finally, on Friday, I got to have a decent run around the soccer pitch, and as they say in the Very  Hungry Caterpillar, “After that, I felt much better!” The rest of the weekend was filled with activity and my higher-intensity cardio sessions. This morning when I hopped on the scales, I was rewarded with a 1.3kg loss.It’s amazing how information just finds its way to me since pursuing this way of eating. I mentioned in a previous post that I never knew how many other people were lchf, but (and I say this with a cynically raised eyebrow), lots of keto-related articles are popping up in my facebook feed.

One was about dirty keto. It’s basically just lchf, without really regarding where the fats and proteins are coming from. It could be a maccas burger without the bun, or a packet of pre-packaged ham. Where clean (?) keto is all about spending a great deal of time preparing meals from scratch and with quality ingredients, dirty keto doesn’t care how processed the food is, as long as it’s got low/no carbs. This seed, plus the others I have collected prior to, and since, reading this post, have lead me to reflect a little about what I am eating. I will try and spend the next couple of weeks consciously sourcing my macros from food that is as close as possible to its original form and see if that helps to ‘shed the kilos’ a little faster.

Bad thing/s about the past couple of weeks: I am wasting money on fresh produce that is not keeping well. As much as I have resisted, or not seen the value of, Tupperware, I may need to invest in a couple of good quality items that will extend the lifespan of my fruit (blasted, expensive blueberries!), veges (my poor, costly coriander!) and pre-prepped meals.

I still feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information (and products!) that are out there for keto-genarians (yes, I did just make that word up … patent pending) and am worried that I may fall victim to clever marketing. I am a self-proclaimed newbie to this lifestyle and am sure to make more mistakes as I go along.

Good thing/s about the past couple of weeks: We are finding more meals the kids are enjoying. We can now add keto burgers (well, the kids and hubby eat the bread rolls), keto Asian Cabbage stir-fry, keto chicken carnitas and creamy Tuscan low-cab shrimp with asparagus (only low-carb, not keto, but sooo worth it!) to our repertoire.

I am now in my 9th week of sobriety and have been able to get out and do at least 30 mins of exercise of one kind or another for just as long. The tracking of this progress is working really well for me, I think. So too is the fact I’m not placing unsustainable expectations on myself in terms of exercise. I have learned to be happy with just a walk – it’s consistency, not intensity that I now prioritise.

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It’s not pretty, but it’s effective! My movement and booze-free days tracker.

With every day, I am wiser about keto and am still really enjoying the foods/meals I get to eat. It is time consuming, and I do spend 2-3 hours of my weekend getting breakfast and lunch ready for the week ahead, but I’m so grateful that every morning I have food right there, ready to go and I don’t need to think about what to eat that day.

I am really enjoying so many aspects of my life at the moment. I feel like I had more energy this week, having no real problem finding the motivation to complete all the little tasks I set myself. I am feeling more appreciative than usual for the awesome people who fill different roles in my life. I love playing soccer with my amazing team who comprises of some of the kindest and encouraging ladies I’ve ever met. We never fail to have a laugh. I no longer find it hard to get out of bed at 6am on Saturdays thanks to the gorgeous girls I run with. They even let me beat them this week! I’m loving being ‘successful’ with keto eating. I feel like I’m achieving goals, and not just those relating to weight loss, which inspires me to want to achieve even more and continue on this journey.

 

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Breakfast – now my favourite part of the weekend.

I feel supported and encouraged and I am not too egocentric or ignorant to know that not everyone has this in their lives. I’m glad I don’t take it all for granted.And my family. They’re just the gosh-darned best. I’m lucky to have a supportive husband who is responsible for the lions share of the cooking. He has stepped out of his comfort zone and is now diligently following keto recipes and making separate sides for me so that I can stay on track. My kids, bless them, they don’t like everything, but they will at least give the new food a go before turning up their noses.

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A community right under my nose!

So many people have come out of the wood works confessing to eating or having tried keto diet. And it turns out that there is a lot more to it than just eating high fat/low carb. There’s a whole fasting thing you can do. I have heard of fasting before, and I know that there are almost as many ways to fast as there are diets, so I’m always sceptical when I hear about some new ‘silver bullet’ for weight loss. I might look into this later if I get bored or stuck. But so far, what I am doing is working.

I managed to ‘stay on the wagon’ for week 2 of my keto journey and was rewarded with a full kilogram loss. People have asked me if I get hungry, and yes I do, but then I go and eat something 🙂 I like the fact that I don’t really seem to feel bloated or as though I have over eaten. Maybe it’s because I am using recipes with prescribed amounts, but I’m cleaning my plate feeling satiated and comfortable.

I was again surprised to have lost weight as I wasn’t feeling lighter and, well, I’d eaten some pretty indulgent meals. This week I’ve changed the food up a bit, getting my husband to look at the menu on diet doctor in order to select family meals he’d be just as happy to eat as me. It’s been a huge success in terms of hubby’s enjoyment of the meals, but each night, the kids have found something each they hated and refused to eat. My eldest is also asking for some of the old staples, one of her favourites being butter chicken – cooked with a packet mix. My ignorance about how to interpret labels for keto suitability is really proving to be a barrier to some food choices/options.

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Guac from tonight’s cheese-filled chicken breast with guacamole. It was just so yum!

Wins include the weight loss, the fact that I’m pretty sure I’ve reached ketosis (my wee smells different) and my husband’s acceptance of the recipes. Down sides this week have been feeling like a snob when I won’t eat any of the food (not even the fruit!) that people brought into work for out staff morning tea, sweet cravings for a couple of days and the fact that I can’t run as fast as some of the parkrun crowd I used to be able to beat! 😛

I’ve been too busy lately, but my next goal is to meal prep some desserts to combat those after dinner temptations to head for something that doesn’t taste like butter, cheese or meat.

I’m thinking …. panna cotta.

Getting into a groove

I always knew that getting back into the routine and structure of work would be an easy transition for me in relation to organising lunches due to my well-established habit of preparing breakfasts, lunches and snacks at least a week ahead of time. I normally snack on boiled eggs, bananas and nuts, but seeing as I have 2 eggs for breakfast in my keto muffins – https://www.dietdoctor.com/recipes/keto-egg-muffins – and I can no longer eat fruit, my snacks tend to include slices of cheese, stuffed olives, marinated eggplant and cherry tomatoes. I think I’ll pack some pecans for tomorrow. My keto lunches never fail to surprise me with easy they are to make and how great they taste.

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Thai Red Fish Curry – perfect for Winter

I haven’t counted any calories or macros this week and it’s been a relief to not have to think so hard about what I eat. A little preparation goes a long way and I see that, as log as I can continue to plan a week or 2 in advance, I will be able to accommodate this as part of my lifestyle.

If you plan your dinners before you do your grocery shopping, if you only shop once a fortnight or week, if you write a list before you hit the supermarket, then you are well suited to adopt this way of eating.

My posts will become fewer and farther in between I think as I believe I have reached a ‘maintenance’ stage of this diet. Not maintenance as in I’ve reached my goal weight, but I moved beyond the research, planning and organising phase. The foundation has been laid and I can just go about my daily routine without too much mental effort.

I will post again if/when I have something of interest to say.

 

Week 1 review

Well yesterday was weighing day and I have lost 500 grams.

Not exactly the ‘incredible results’ (please read with a Swedish accent) that dietdoctor.com boasts one will/can experience on this diet. That said, I was truly expecting a gain, so I was thrilled (and relieved!) to see that my weight had gone down at all.

Yesterday was also my first day back at work. At a new school. I had no trouble sticking to my pre-packed lunch and snacks. In fact I didn’t have time to eat all of the food I took for the day. I was either too satiated or busy to feel hungry through the day and stuck to breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacking only after tea on some cheese and olives. The keto diet recommends 3 meals a day, and this was the closest I have been so far to achieving said recommendation.

I didn’t count any carbs yesterday. I didn’t need to with my prepped meals and knowledge of which vegetables to have with dinner and low carb snacks at hand. It’s getting easier. I am glad I started this diet last week which gave me time to prepare meals and gather information on good choices for keto eating. I just don’t have the time for research and macro tallying now that I’m back working full time.

I think it’s working too. I had a headache at the end of the day, my eyes were stinging and I was utterly exhausted by 6pm. Maybe, just maybe, I’m finally getting the flu!

Apologies in advance for the potential bad breath I may inflict on anyone I interact with today! I have had no complaints so far, but I really should look up how to overcome this, just in case. Is gum keto approved?

Suggestions welcome, folks 🙂

The first derailing

Six days in and all was going swimmingly. I was feeling great from having stayed my (diet) course all week and playing a bonus game of soccer with some old team mates. My parents had asked for help erecting a shed, offering food as payment for the boys’ services and I knew there would be lots of no-nos to tempt me. So of course, I came prepared with alternative, low carb veggie options to go with the roast meat I knew we’d be having for dinner. Easy!

Everyone there was digging in to the potatoes (sweet and regular), pumpkin and potato bake. I was happy with my fried eggplant, leek, tomato and broccoli ‘mash’. Everyone I was immediately related to was indulging in wine, both red and white. I was so proud of how well I resisted the temptation to even taste the delicious-smelling pinot noir my sister was savouring (even though I knew it was only 2 carbs!), quite happy with my soda water.

But I didn’t bring any back-up dessert, did I?

It was the home made custard and lemon meringue tart that was my undoing. I couldn’t resist a taste, and once I’d had a taste …. well … I’d gotten a taste for it, hadn’t I?

That’s the cruel thing I am finding with this diet, like I mentioned in my previous post. There’s just no straying from the path. No cheat days, no mini indulgences. Just all or nothing.

Keto or not keto.

Never the less, I am back on the wagon once again today. If nothing else, I am now a little wiser as to just how much preparation I will need to avoid such pitfalls in the future.

Always, always bring dessert!

Preparation

Day 5 now and still not feeling any blatantly obvious signs of the ‘flu’. I am a little fatigued now, but I had plenty of energy to do a fair bit today. Mostly house cleaning, a little shopping and some meal preparation for work next week. I am especially looking forward to the fat bombs that I have made to snack on … if they last that long!

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Very simple recipe of ingredients I already had in my pantry and fridge (butter, coconut, cardamon, vanilla essence and cinnamon). Diet doctor.com has complete recipe here:

https://www.dietdoctor.com/recipes/cinnamon-cardamom-fat-bombs

I am finding the diet – or way of eating – surprisingly easy to accommodate. That said, it is very strict. With other ‘diets’ I think they allow you a ‘cheat day’ or small treats on a very limited basis. This allows you to fall off the wagon, so to speak, every now and then without completely undoing all of the hard work you had put in to date. On my 1200 – 1800 calories/day eating plan, I could eat anything as long as I kept within caloric intake limits. I could even have blow-out days of over 2000 calories without it being reflected on the scales. But even though I am shying away from carbs, not fats, I feel more restricted due to worrying about not maintaining/attaining ketosis.

There is flexibility in the diet though. Rather, I should say there is flexibility in the way I can adapt my meals to make them keto friendly, and it’s good to only have to worry about carbs, not so much the calories. Today I met my husband for a spontaneous lunch at Grill’d. He was in the mood for that particular cuisine, but he was worried I’d dismiss his choice as I wouldn’t be able to find anything on the menu for myself. I just asked for my burger without the bun and they were very happy to accommodate my request.

I’m also finding that even though I am eating slightly differently to the rest of the family, it’s not a huge burden. Below is an example of tonight’s dinner – Thai chicken curry.

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I followed the dietdoctor.com’s recipe and substituted rice for my family’s meals. I cooked my veges in the microwave and the rice was cooked on the stove top. The meat/protein part of our meals is the same, it’s just that they may have additional veges to what I’m having (eg, potatoes) or I might have a different side dish. It certainly isn’t as onerous as cooking up a separate meal. I have to admit – their rice meals looked pretty awesome tonight. It just soaked up the curry sauce so appetisingly!

Who knows? As my repertoire of meals expands, we may discover things that we all can enjoy without any modifications.

Still in very good spirits … but then again, I am still on holidays! 🙂

A little on the tired side

As I am writing this, I am feeling that relaxed, calm, contentedness that I associate with coming to the end of a busy day. Mine was pretty full, but I don’t think I exerted enough energy to justify this sleepiness. I have been feeling this way, on and off, all day. It’s not exhaustion nor has it stopped me from doing anything I had set out to do, but it is some minor, unjustified fatigue.

So maybe I’m (hopefully) entering ketosis?

I really don’t know why, but I’m not ‘suffering’ the way I was expecting to – not yet, anyway. If anything, I feel great. I am really happy and enthusiastic and optimistic and just generally feeling …

joy.

I think I love setting myself goals and I get a real kick out of achieving them. It’s. Just. Bliss!

🙂

The keto flu

All information I have seen regarding the keto flu warn me to expect feeling pretty lousy around days 3-5 into commencing the diet. According to dietdoctor.com, symptoms include:

  • fatigue*
  • headache
  • irritiability
  • difficulty focusing (“brain fog”)
  • Lack of motivation
  • dizziness
  • sugar cravings
  • nausea
  • muscle cramps

So far, I have not really experienced any of the above symptoms (you’ll have to double check with my husband and kids re irritability) and this could mean one of 2 things; that they are yet to arrive, or that I am possibly not cutting enough carbs. I am hoping that it is the former possibility, as I am going to great lengths to stay under the 20g of daily carb intake. I also really hope my calculations are correct. I am not adhering to strict meal plans, which means I am spending more time doing calculations myself, but allow me to choose preferred foods or cheaper alternatives.

The one symptom I do seem to have experienced today is a decline in physical performance, most notably during this morning’s run. It’s not completely unheard of for me to set a slower pace, but with having a rest day yesterday and a good level of fitness under my belt, I was quite surprised at how much I began to ‘hurt’ around the 3km mark. I’m usually just starting to hit a wall around 4.5/5kms. The GPS signal was weak for the first 2kms, so the distance recorded is incorrect (I actually ran 6kms), but the time is correct. I’m usually under 6min/km.

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I am not put off by this, as I take comfort in the following quote from dietdoctor.com

“Dr. Steve Phinney has conducted studies in endurance athletes2 as well as obese individuals3 demonstrating that physical performance decreases during the first week of very-low-carb eating. Fortunately, his research also shows that by week 4, people typically perform better than before they started keto.”

https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto/flu-side-effects

I will continue to look for signs of the ‘flu’ over the next few days. If I haven’t experienced anything matching the symptoms listed above by the weekend, I might re-assess my diet and look into the recommended meal plans provided on my preferred site. It is difficult to know whether my calculations are correct, as I have received some conflicting nutritional information about a number of ingredients I am eating.

For the record, I am still motivated to keep up with the diet and haven’t found it too difficult as yet. I think the true test will be when I go back to ‘reality’ and return to work. This holiday lifestyle really is such a luxury in terms of time. Even working from home sets you up so well for maintaining new food habits – a kitchen and fully stocked pantry and fridge have definitely ‘saved my bacon’ when hunger pangs have hit. However, I am hopeful that my firmly founded habit of meal prepping and packed lunches will make the transition back to work less challenging than it might otherwise be.

Feeling good.

*I felt fatigued yesterday, but am much revived after a good night’s sleep.

 

Learning Curve

I can see, now that I am a whole ‘2 days’ in to this diet, that it is going to be something of a journey. I feel that this diet will definitely lead me …. somewhere. I’m just not yet sure as to where. So far, though, I am enjoying the scenery – the terrain hasn’t been too arduous. I think I’ll continue for now.

I have experienced some successes and reached some milestones (a term I use loosely) today. The first of these that I reached this morning was hopping on the scales to discover I had reached my goal of losing 5kg well within the time frame I had allocated myself. This is not attributable to the keto diet, as I only started this yesterday, but I think that now is a good time to ‘switch gears’ in terms of my food intake to set me up for the next 5kgs I want to shift. I’m expecting to take longer to lose the 2nd half of my total weight loss goals, but I am unsure what would be a reasonable time limit to set myself.

Other success I had today involved making keto bread for the first time (dietdoctor.com). I was pleasantly surprised as to how easy it was to make, how few ingredients were required and how delicious the end result! Photo below.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes and had failures too. I’m learning (the hard way) that just because a food comes from the same group/category of a keto-approved diet, doesn’t mean it will contain a similar amount of carbs. Yesterday I bought myself some pistachios, thinking they (being a nut) would be a tasty low-carb snack. I discovered today that it was one of the worst offenders from the nut family, and that I would have been far better off with the cheaper pecan.

I also made a spectacular mess of making my own mayonnaise. I was being lazy and thought that using a food processor would save me time and effort over using a whisk. It did not.

Yesterday, when I tallied my macros, I discovered I was ‘under budget’ for my protein and fats, but slightly over for my daily carb allowance. Today, I was well under for the carbs, but also under for protein and fats. And I have been hungry. The testimonials boasting the hunger-banishing benefits of ketogenic eating have not been true for me.

I don’t know if the diet is working yet. I haven’t experienced obvious symptoms of keto-flu. I assume that this will perhaps start to show itself from tomorrow. I am feeling a bit tired, but that could be just as likely from disturbed sleep as the diet’s side effects. I haven’t really been missing or craving carbs. I think one of the things that makes me so well-suited to this diet is my lack of sweet tooth. My tastes have always been far more savoury.

I feel as though, but by bit, my knowledge of the ‘right’ foods will grow and I will spend less time googling and more time eating. I can see how, over time, one will simply know what, and how much, to eat. For now, I am content to study nutrition labels and continue learning what’s going to get me balanced between staving off hunger and keeping within my recommended macros.

I’m feeling peckish and have a few spare calories up my sleeve, so I’m off to scour the fridge.

Mmmm. Buns……

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So I decided to try Keto

Day 1

After many months, perhaps even over a year, of seeing articles, advertisements and  Facebook feed click bait, as well as listening to gentle suggestions from my personal trainer about the benefits of trying a ketogenic or very-low-carb diet, I have finally been persuaded to at least give this latest (?) dieting trend a red hot go.

I resisted for so long as I was (and always have been) highly sceptical of any diet that involves the exclusion (or extreme restriction) of any one particular food group. My mantra has always been “It’s all about balance.” That said, I had recently (approx 1.5 to 2 years ago) gained around 10kg that I had inexplicably gained very rapidly and that has proven to be just as inexplicably difficult to lose. I have, I believe, a *relatively* healthy diet, neither over-indulging in anything ‘bad’ nor really denying myself any treats. I never really thought too much about what I put in my mouth for a good decade, nor (until recently) did I have to. I basically put this down to the fact that I lead an active enough lifestyle to ward off obesity from the calories I was consuming. I’ve never really considered myself to be super-lean, but definitely within healthy weight range and BMI.

This ‘stubborn’ weight that I found alarmingly hard to move had me very concerned. As I mentioned, I was not eating anything startlingly bad for me. All of the articles and success stories I read all attributed their success to cutting out soft drinks and take-out meals or spending 3 hours a day in the gym (or both), neither of which was a problem for me (I’m not a sweet tooth and would choose water over a soft drink any day) or a possibility (I could commit to 30-60mins activity 5x a week). For so long, I’d wondered if it was the area of exercise where I was lacking – not enough exercise? Not enough of the right kind? Not enough consistency? I would make little deals with myself, “I’ll go out for a run every day during the holidays when I have more time,” or “The weight should fall off when soccer season starts and I can get in that high intensity/sprinting stuff that’s so good for weight loss,” “I’ll just make sure I’m doing SOMETHING at least 5x a week.” etc. But in spite of soccer season starting, my consistency improving and the holidays coming and going, I was not seeing any gains. So about 4 weeks ago, I finally decided to look more closely at my diet.

It’s true that I was eating (mostly) the right foods. At work, I prepped meals that were easy to grab and that would last a week. Cooler weather meant a swing away from salads and a move more to food I could heat up. Never the less, these usually involved some vegies, a little protein and some complex carbs like brown rice or wholemeal pasta. Pre-packaged snacks included things like Greek yoghurt, nuts, a banana, a boiled egg, a second piece of fruit like a pear etc. And water, water, water. I was never far from my re-fillable bottle. I would eat meat and 3 vegies for dinner or a pasta dish such as gnocci or spaghetti, never skimping on the calories, but still not sitting up to KFC every night. And always, with each meal, we had water. But when I started to be more conscious of my eating, I’d noticed I would over-eat quite regularly. I would also have an after dinner snack on a bowl of chips or popcorn whether I was hungry or not. If I went to bed feeling bloated, I would wake up the next day feeling just that much ‘softer’ or heavier and my clothes would just be ever so slightly more restrictive. I knew that if I was going to look at my diet, it was going to have to be something I could track as my lack of understanding/will power in regards to portion control would mean I was doomed from the get-go.

I probably took the first step to making my progress more ‘trackable’ approx 5 weeks ago, on the first of June. The most important factor in ‘galvanising’ my will power was to cut out the alcohol. I set myself a challenge to go booze free for winter as any time I would consume even the slightest amount of alcohol, my self-control around food choices completely went out the window. This had the duel benefit of cutting out those way-too-easily-consumed calories in my beloved wine, but it also gave me a 3 month time-frame in which to achieve my weight loss goals. The cutting out of the alcohol was going along swimmingly, but I was not really losing any weight. So, with two foundations of my weight loss journey firmly underfoot (booze-free for winter + be active for at least 30 mins, 5x a week), approximately 3 weeks ago, I began counting calories. I started with a week of 1200-1500 calories a day, but including all the food groups, including complex carbohydrates. The first week I lost 3.5kg. I gained 800g in the second week after a few days of not recording what I was eating so diligently, and just last week I shed a further 2.1kg. A total of 4.7kg in 3 weeks is certainly not something I would say is not working, but for some reason, I thought now would be a good time to try the keto diet.

I was (am) on holidays so I could do a lot of research, prepare a lot of meals and fine tune the diet to tailor it to my own taste. I also thought it would be good to get the keto flu in the holidays without the added pressure of feeling rubbish while trying to perform well at work. I would have preferred to start the first week of my break (I’m in the second week now and going back to school next Monday), but it took me almost the entire week to do the initial readings and recipe research. I was becoming less and less convinced that this diet was sustainable, the more I read. American measurements, expensive meals that consisted of dozens of (hard to find) ingredients and warnings of the draw-backs of over eating protein made me think that this was just too hard. That was until I discovered the website, “The Diet Doctor.”

I knew that this was a reputable site as a GP that I know had talked about it being a good resource on ALL diets. I knew that if I looked at this site, it would give me information that was less biased than sites designed to promote the keto diet as the best, and who would potentially benefit financially from signing up/purchasing products. The recipes I have discovered have, so far, been very basic and consisting of easily acquired ingredients. The site is also swarming with recipe ideas that you can meal-prep: an absolute must for me to remain on track.

My main concern/s of beginning the diet are less-so the keto flu, a lack of physical performance and carbohydrate cravings, but more the unknown/harder to monitor possible health problems that may come about as a result of the diet, eg kidney stones and osteoporosis. What will this do to my body long term? I won’t really know until it’s possibly too late.

But I think it’s worth a shot. See whether or not my body responds well to using fat as energy instead of carbs. And now that I have an excellent resource at my fingertips that provides me with all the info I need to make this work (and more), I’m feeling good about commencing my keto-licious journey. My goal for this blog is to aid me in monitoring my progress and perhaps (maybe not so much) help someone else make up their mind as to whether or not they want to give it a go.

Til next entry …

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My meal tracking in progress. Time consuming, but so far so good.