Daily Journaling

I have been journaling daily since January, but I have started a journal that is open to the public. I will be logging my daily thoughts, feelings, struggles, triumphs, and of course, food! You can either click “Jess’s Journal” in the menu bar up above or you can just click here.

If you don’t already journal during your weight loss journey, I highly recommend it. Especially a journal that you can make public, since that way you’ll develop a community group of commentators and you guys can keep each other motivated and accountable. Or you can make it completely private, it’s entirely up to you. I find that journaling daily centers me and keeps me focused on my goal regularly.

Have a fab day, butter lovers.

Buttery Update 03/10/17

Hey there butter lovers! Just a quick note to let you know the plan is working, life is just busy right now. I have lost 52.4 pounds in the last year (25.4 of it since January 1st of this year) so things are going swimmingly. Have a great weekend!

My One-Year Ketoversary

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Today is my one-year anniversary of eating a low-carb, high-fat diet. I have lost 50 pounds since February 26, 2016, and let me tell you a secret: I wasn’t even very good at it for the majority of 2016.

When I first learned about LCHF, my mind was completely blown. Butter and bacon are good? Bread and pasta are bad? What fresh hell is this? But at 312 pounds, and after many diets failed me, I was willing to try anything. I had heard of low-carb before: didn’t that Atkins guy die of a heart attack? (He didn’t.) Wasn’t that diet a crazy, dangerous fad? But after reading into LCHF a little more, I felt a glimmer of hope begin to stir within me. The website where I learned about this way of eating wasn’t even trying to sell me anything. It just said, “Eat real food.” I had been eating my Standard American Diet (SAD) for so long that I actually had to read about what “real food” really was, because I honestly didn’t know exactly what it meant.

I decided that I would try LCHF on February 21st, and I spent the next 5 days getting rid of all of the carbage in my house. I promised myself that I would start on Friday, February 26th, and that’s exactly what I did. The first week, I lost 13 pounds. Water weight, yes, but every diet will come with an initial surge of water weight loss. But I was in heaven: I was full, for the very first time in my life, and I wasn’t thinking about food constantly. It was like a miracle. I couldn’t remember the last time I went a day without eating 3 meals and 3 snacks to boot. But with LCHF, I found myself satisfied with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and not thinking about food- at all- in between.

It took me a couple of weeks to catch on to the fact that I was struggling with artificial sweeteners. Not only did they make me hungry, but my weight loss stopped (or I would gain) when I ate them. All of the pretty little fat bombs and low-carb desserts I had been making got cut. My weight loss resumed.

In the first 5 weeks, I noticed a lot of changes in my body:

  • I had lost 20 pounds and I had already gone down one pant size and one shirt size.
  • My skin was clearer. My body acne had completely cleared and my facial acne was, for the most part, gone.
  • I was sleeping all the way through the night, which was a godsend. I used to have a lot of trouble falling asleep, and then I would wake up every morning between 4:00 and 4:30 AM. Before LCHF, I used to have to eat an early breakfast for the energy to make it through the morning, but wouldn’t you know it, that donut wasn’t very filling. I would need a mid-morning snack (and maybe another) before lunch, just to keep going.
  • My back pain was gone. I had had minor back pain for a couple of years, and it was now completely gone after just over a month of LCHF eating.
  • I had tons of energy. Minor chores used to completely wipe me out. A day full of errands? Fuhgettaboutit. But in my first week of LCHF eating I was bouncing off the walls with energy, and even though my initial energy spike tapered off, I still had lots of energy throughout each day, to the point where making dinner from scratch every night was no problem, even on weeknights.
  • My mood was significantly more even. I realized somewhere around Week 3 that I never got “hangry” anymore. I had a lot more patience and I didn’t snap at people when I was hungry. That had been a part of my life for so long that I thought that it was normal. Turns out it wasn’t.
  • I didn’t get “the shakes” when I was hungry anymore. I can recall a couple of specific instances back was I was eating SAD where I went for long enough without eating to the point where I would begin to shake, feel light-headed, and I would feel nauseous. I had to eat right away or I was convinced I was going to die- I felt that bad. And keep in mind, I wasn’t skipping breakfast or going a whole day without eating- this was like 6 hours without eating. Looking back on it, I can’t believe I didn’t realize that something was seriously wrong with me at that time.

So I had all of these great benefits eating LCHF, but you recall that I mentioned that I wasn’t very good at sticking to this way of eating for most of 2016, right? That’s because of a few things:

  • I thought I could cheat. I have 14 immediate members of my family. That’s 14 birthdays per year, not to mention my husband’s and my wedding anniversary, camping trips, special dinners celebrating promotions, nights out with the girls, all of the events we go to with our friends, PLUS holidays! I thought, “It’s only a few times a year, how bad could it be?” Well, eating high carb for just one day would knock me out of ketosis, and then I’d have to spend a week or two getting back into it, and then another celebration would come along and it would start all over again. Plus some of the foods I would eat on cheat days made me hungry and stoked cravings for days afterward! And instead of getting wise and just saying “no” to cake and pizza at every party I went to, I told myself that “I would just have a little” as long as it was within my carbs. 3 slices of pizza and 1 slice of cake later, I felt like a failure that day, and what the heck, why don’t I just keep eating like this for the rest of the weekend, and I’ll be good again starting Monday? It was a vicious cycle of allowing carbage- in any amount– back into my life and disregarding the fact that they would affect my insulin levels and cravings. Everything in moderation, I have found, is just plain bad advice.
  • I thought I wouldn’t get bored. We found a few recipes that we really liked and stuck with them. We bought bento boxes and made ourselves bento box lunches every single day for work, with the same stuff in them all the time. I had eggs, butter, and coffee with heavy whipping cream every single morning for breakfast. After a few weeks, that got b-o-r-i-n-g. Instead of using my zucchini noodle and looking on Pinterest for recipes, I started rationalizing eating higher-carb food to myself. “We could add potatoes to this meal”, “Regular peanut butter is fine, it’s high-protein, right?” and “I can drink low-carb Monster energy drinks, they’re low carb, duh.” It was a slippery slope, and in the back of my mind I had the constant insistent thought that I wasn’t being honest with myself. I was right. (Plus, again, I am sensitive to artificial sweeteners, and those low-carb energy drinks made me ravenous.)
  • I still made every event about food. Hubs and I are very social people. If we’re not hanging out with family or friends, we’re going out on date nights together. What’s a movie without a jumbo-sized popcorn and a big ‘ol soda to wash it down with? What’s a dinner at a Mexican food restaurant without beans and rice? What’s Christmas without cookies, candy, and pie, what’s Thanksgiving without stuffing, what’s Easter without chocolate, what’s a board game night without chips and crackers, what’s a family gathering without sweets? Those thoughts invaded my mind during every social event, and during the social event I would be absolutely fixated on the food- even when I was eating LCHF and not cheating. This happened because that’s how I had always thought of social events and I didn’t even realize it: what are we eating? What should I bring? When is dinner served? Is Aunt Margaret’s peach cobbler going to be there? I had to actively change my mindset to focus on the celebration itself, the people, in order to stop this habit. I now eat at home before I go anywhere social, unless it’s to a restaurant and I know exactly what I’m getting. With every passing event, it gets easier and easier to say no to sweets that make me feel sick and take me further away from my goal.

I gained and lost the same few pounds, over and over. Still, I continued to gravitate back to eating low-carb. I started having trouble sleeping again, so I ate low-carb and I would start to feel awesome again in a matter of days (until my next cheat… notice a pattern here?) Just before Christmas 2016, I knew I would have my one last hoo-rah between Christmas and New Year and then I would get serious, and I mean serious, starting January 1, 2017. Soon after the first of the year, I read a success story on the Diet Doctor website and I was inspired to implement an element into my life that I had never used before: no cheats. None. Nada, zip, zilch, no matter the reason. Holidays, family events, “Just because it’s Friday”, nothing. I had to get my insulin and cravings under control and I had to drive my weight down. I was sick of this high-carb life. The idea of not cheating at all was daunting, but after a couple of weeks of No Cheats I realized that it actually made eating low carb really, really easy. I can either have it or I can’t, the end, period.

But what does “no cheats” really mean? It’s different for everyone. For me, I have my “Can Have” list and my “Can’t have” list, and that’s it. Things like refined carbs, cakes, candy, soda, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, and grains are on my “Can’t have” list (there are more, but these are just some examples.) Things like meat, nuts, cheese, good fats, cruciferous vegetables, 90% cacao chocolate, wine, and natural peanut butter are on my “Can Have list” (again, there are more items on this list.) And there are some days where I overeat, but I don’t have anything on my “Can’t Have” list, and the next day I’m just fine. No carb cravings, no sluggishness, no Keto flu, because I know what my body can and can’t handle.

In addition, I started naturally intermittent fasting. Eating LCHF all the time really does keep you full, so before long I was skipping breakfast. Then I was pushing off lunch because I didn’t feel like eating. Now I regularly do 24-hour fasts during the weekdays (see Dr. Jason Fung’s awesome website or read his Complete Guide to Fasting for more information.)

What I learned:

I really can do this. Once I focused on permanently changing habits, such as ditching the idea that breakfast is “required”, focusing on people rather than food at social events, and committing to NO CHEATS, this way of eating became easy. I learned that I need to try new recipes and not find myself stuck in a rut. And I am so thrilled to see what this next year will bring me, since I was so successful in the last 365 days and I wasn’t even really committed for most of it. I find myself imagining what the next year will bring for me living this low-carb no-cheat life, and it’s a bright future.

 

Starting Low Carb When You Have ZERO Time and Energy

240_f_125863588_se387f6z17kj0102cxc6zh8g81yb9igs A year ago, before I knew that LCHF existed, I would come home from a 9+ hour day of work and look at my kitchen with dismay. It was like this terrible, permanent reminder of what I knew I should be doing, but I wasn’t doing it. How could people come home from a day of work and make dinner from scratch every single day? It was a myth, I was convinced; something akin to seeing a unicorn. I was never going to be able to be That Person.

Cut to today, where we make our dinners from scratch, every night, and we look forward to it. How did I get here?

It was such a slow progression that I didn’t even realize what was going on until it had already happened. I started my very first day of LCHF on a Friday, when I had the whole day off from work, and my weekend was completely free. I made sure that I planned all of my meals, grocery shopped, and had easy-to-grab snacks in the fridge. I had done my homework and knew that I might still experience carb cravings for a little while after I started a ketogenic diet. The following work week was its own set of challenges, but with planning I got through it. Here are my tips for you.

  1. Change what you eat. Not how much you eat, not when you eat. Only change what you eat.
  2. Do not start exercising if you don’t already do it. You will find that eating low carb will give you noticeable energy and you’ll move around more soon enough, but for now, don’t add extra stuff in. Adding in a change to both your diet and your exercise can overwhelm you. Baby steps.
  3. Plan, plan, plan. This article is about you having Zero Time, right? Plan out meals in your head on your way to work while you’re stuck in traffic. Waiting for your daughter’s recital to start? Plan out tomorrow’s meals. Or, you can do what I do: carve out a set time each week to plan meals, and it needs to be no more than 10 minutes. Seriously. You want simple, easy-to-prepare meals, get your grocery list out, make it right then and there. BOOM. Done.
  4. If you’re a fast food junkie, again, change what you eat. The drive-thru can be your friend. Most burger joints will give you the option of protein-style burgers, you can get your Egg McMuffin without a bun, Starbucks will make you a coffee with extra heavy cream without batting an eye, hell, you can even get a Panda Bowl at Panda Express made with mixed veggies as the base and broccoli beef on top for a good-sized meal at 19 carbs a pop. Not bad for Chinese food.

So how did I get to where I’m currently at? I started with changing what I ate, and wouldn’t you know it, the energy that everyone always talks about when switching to low carb came to me. I was no longer cranky and hangry and exhausted when I got home from work: I was bouncing off the walls with energy to spare. For some people, switching to eating LCHF is the cure for their chronic energy shortage. It was for me. 

This way of eating is truly one day at a time, and the hardest part is getting started. Switching to low carb reaps so many benefits for many people, including the amount of sheer energy you will have once your body becomes adapted to it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, butter fans: how did you get started with your low carb way of eating? What helped you in the beginning?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Making Low Carb Low-Cost

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“Low carb is so expensive!”

 

I hear this all the time, and when I first started an LCHF way of eating, it definitely was expensive. Between the grass-fed butter and health-food-store buys (chia seeds and hemp hearts, anyone?) we were burning through our monthly grocery budget in two weeks. I’m here to shout from the rooftops: it doesn’t have to be!

(Note: If you are receiving SNAP benefits [food stamps] or WIC [varies from state to state], both programs will pay for some low carb options.)

 

Fast forward to now: like 17% of America, I do my grocery shopping at the nation’s largest grocer: Wal-Mart. However, it is just as easy to overspend there if you’re not careful. Here are my best tips for trimming down that grocery budget and making keto, LCHF, Paleo, Primal, or low carb affordable. 

 

  1. Expand your horizons. It was only through my quest of making low carb cheaper did I discover that canned fish is delicious. I’m not talking sardines: that stuff is too salty even for me. But have you ever tried making salmon patties with canned salmon? They are the bee’s knees, folks. Tuna melt bake? Yum! I even started eating canned herring for breakfast, which stinks to high heavens but tastes uh-MAZE-ing. Canned fish is cheap as heck, is shelf-stable, and is usually packed in water or olive oil, not to mention the sheer health benefits of eating more fish. Compare prices and think of the possibilities. Take your time to stroll through the grocery aisles and consider items you’ve never used before. Ghee (clarified butter) is great for cooking, canned olives are a delicious snack, and Mexican table cream is a good topping for sweet and savory dishes alike. And they’re all pretty cheap.

 

  1. Buying in bulk is not always cheaper. A 52-oz bag of Bird’s Eye Broccoli is $5.98 in my neck of the woods, and that is enough for about 5 sides of broccoli with dinner for my family. However, those oh-so-convenient individual steamer bags of broccoli? Bird’s Eye Steamfresh broccoli steamer bags are $1.00 per 10.8 ounce bag at my store. I can get 6 super-convenient servings for the same price of 5 when buying in bulk. PLUS those little steamer bags are constantly on sale! Compare your prices and do your homework.

 

  1. Ignore farm-raised, wild-caught, and grass-fed for now. I realize that this is like low carb sacrilege to say, but this way of eating can be, nay, should be accessible to everyone who wants to eat this way. It’s no secret that these types of foods are expensive. Buying a double-pack of Great Value brand butter is cheaper than a single block of Kerrygold in my store. A bag of scallops is $4.98 at my store, and the wild-caught scallops sitting right next to them are a whopping $15! Ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m going to get a fair number of people who disagree with me on this, but this article is about saving money and making low carb accessible to all budgets. I’m not going to preach about grass-fed this and pasture-raised that here.

 

  1. Shop around, plan your meals, and use your resources. Try Googling “grocery store outlet” and see what pops up. What can you get for cheaper there than your normal store? Did you know that most grocery store ads come out on Wednesdays, and often times they’re online for you to look at before you go out? Take a look at the products you normally buy: could you get a different brand of the same item for cheaper? Once you have this information in hand, plan, plan, plan. Plan at least your dinners. Set a schedule for what your dinners will be and then stick to it. Need ideas? Click here for the NYB Pinterest page.

 

  1. Lean on cheap nutrient-dense staples. Eggs are my go-to filler for a lot of dishes. They’re cheap, abundant, they last relatively long in the fridge, and you can add them to a lot of low carb meals. Most-importantly, they’re filling and chock-full of nutrients. Throw a fried egg on top of your steak, add a couple into your stir-fry, or cut up boiled eggs and put them in your salads. I’ll also take the time to mention water-packed canned meats again, including fish- bulk up your stir-frys, casseroles, and salads. Or heck, eat them straight out of the can- no cleanup after.

 

  1. Stick to a grocery shopping list. Now this is like budgeting 101, but plan your meals and make a shopping list. Try not to deviate from your list, unless you go into the grocery store with the intention of shopping around and looking for deals. Even then, keep your cheaper staples in mind- you can build meals around cheaper cuts of meat and vegetables that are in season and on sale.

 

  1. Learn to love your slow cooker. A big, tough chuck roast turns into a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece after 9 hours in a slow cooker. You can cover raw boneless chicken with a jar of store-brand salsa and after 9 hours on low in the crock pot it’s everyone’s favorite meal. Seriously, slow cookers are a thing of wonder. Click here to check out low carb slow cooker ideas on the NYB Pinterest page. If you don’t have a slow cooker, thrift stores often have perfectly good ones for sale for a fraction of the price, you can try Freecycle, scour Craigslist, or you can check out your local Facebook “Buy and Sell” page.

 

  1. Lard is your friend. A low carb way of eating is full of natural fats, and lard is one of those fats. Become acquainted with it, because it makes some of the best fried chicken you’ve ever eaten (pro-tip: coat that chicken in crushed pork rinds. You will not regret it.) And wouldn’t you know it, lard is dirt-cheap. A one-pound block of lard is $1.62 in my area at the time of this writing, and a little goes a long way. Lard has a high smoke-point and it’s great for coating the bottom of your pan when you’re going to sauté veggies, scramble eggs, or brown beef.

 

  1. If you’re a bacon junkie, go for the ends and pieces. Bacon is inherently expensive and I almost left this number off of this list, but bacon is a big part of low carb culture. You can have your bacon and eat it too if you shop smart. I honestly wasn’t aware that bacon ends-and-pieces were even a thing until I saw my dad cooking up a whole mess of bacon and I happened to see the package sitting on the counter. He told me that it was cheaper, and I wasn’t sure until I started looking for myself: bacon “end-and-pieces” is a package of bacon leftovers, essentially. It’s still delicious bacon, but they’re not in uniform, photogenic strips. They are literally the end and pieces of other bacon. Ends-and-pieces bacon are usually off to the side of the bacon display, like a tasty treasure that no one but you can see, and you get way more of it for way cheaper than the picture-perfect strips most people are used to.

 

  1. Ask yourself: what can I do to stretch this meal farther? Save the bacon grease from the bacon. Save the bones from your meat and make mineral-rich bone broth. Save the bits of vegetables that you would usually throw away in a large gallon-size freezer bag: ends of onions, the part of the asparagus you cut off, the white chunks of celery, cucumber peels, the ends of carrots, basically any veggie except for potatoes; once the bag is full you can make home-made vegetable stock from that in your crock pot. Are there leftovers on your dinner plate that you could add to your lunch tomorrow?

 

BONUS TIP: Consider changing grocery stores. I love a good natural foods store as much as the next girl, and Target, with their shining bright-white floors and minimalist Archer Farms brand packaging? SO appealing. But I’m not made of money, and some stores are so expensive overall that they’re really not even worth it. Consider branching out and changing where you shop for certain items. Mr. Butter and I are budget-conscious, but every once in a while we also want a good fat steak from a butcher that knows what they’re doing, so we’ll do the bulk of our shopping at Wal-Mart and then head over to Stater Brothers, where their butcher counter is second to none. Of course, we check the sales first 😉

 

I’m interested to know your tips for making low carb low-cost. Is there some special recipe you use to stretch ingredients farther, or a tactic that you implement when grocery shopping? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Have an on-plan, buttery day everyone!

Perfection Exhaustion

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Do you ever scroll through your Facebook feed and see perfect photos from your friends? You know the ones I mean. The picture of their dog and them, Starbucks in hand, cuddled up on a couch with tastefully-chosen colors and complimentary throw pillows, with a filter added so everything looks just-so? I see them all the time. I will often go to a blog and see the author’s perfect pictures, and their perfect recipes, and their perfectly-worded articles, and wonder how on Earth the blogger does it.

I often wonder how these people have time for all of this. I am a member of management at a nine-to-five desk job, and I find that I only have time when I force myself to squeeze it in to work on this blog, in between cooking, meal planning, reading & researching LCHF, chores around the house, social functions, and finding time to hang out with my husband and our cats.

How do we get there? How can we have that level of perfection in our lives?

The answer is that perfection is relative. While I would love to eat grass-fed butter and wild-caught salmon, that stuff is pretty pricey and I’m a middle class desk jockey. And while I would love to spend my weekends looking for artisanal cheeses in some quaint little out-of-the-way shop, laundry ain’t gonna do itself and all I want to do is take a bubble bath and read a smutty romance novel to relax after an absolutely insane week at work.

In other words, going above-and-beyond, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, gets tiresome. It’s perfection exhaustion. When I first started eating LCHF, I went crazy trying to make all of the cool recipes I found on Pinterest. I made fat bombs, oopsie rolls, soul bread, and as many of the fakey desserts as I could find. During this time, I was striving my hardest to be this vision of what I thought keto perfection should be.

A year later, I’ve realized that the key to sticking to this way of eating is: keep it simple, stupid! Turns out, I really don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen every Saturday morning trying to make low carb cinnamon rolls (especially since I gain weight with artificial sweeteners.) Keeping most meals simple, keeping my fridge stocked with only LCHF foods, and keeping my hunger in check with lots of healthy fats is perfection to me. LCHF didn’t change; I had to change my own mindset to find that perfection. And wouldn’t you know it, the pounds are falling off now.

A shift in mindset could be just what you need to be happy with this way of eating, if you aren’t already happy with it. Ask yourself: What do you really, truly need to be successful? What is LCHF perfection to you? Cut out the extras, and you will find yourself with time to relax, time to feel content, and the time and energy to focus on your next goal.

 

Buttery Update 02/11/17

Hey there, butter fans. Weight loss has been excellent since my re-commitment on the first of the year. I am down 17.6 pounds in 42 days, which ain’t half bad. I am down a total of 45.2 pounds since I started low carb back on February 26, 2016, and I hope to be down a solid 50 pounds be the time my one-year ketoversary comes up.

It’s wonderful getting a full night’s sleep again, being full of energy again, and not being “hangry” again. I cannot believe how even my moods are now that I’m eating the right kind of food my body needs.

I have purchased my tickets to this year’s Low Carb USA conference in San Diego, and I am already looking forward to it, even though it’s way out in August. I’ll post more info as I know more about it, and you can be sure I’ll post photos and notes during the conference.

Have a buttery day!