Saturday, January 26, 2019

Keto Update Ten: Some Success and Some "Other-Than-Successes"

Well, I was feeling like I was on a roll this week. My fasts were gradually getting longer. I was getting to about twenty-two hours each day and feeling good and not hungry (until I was ready to break the fast). It also felt like my appetite was dropping. I was getting hungrier earlier in the day and then, amazingly, not feeling tempted to snack at night! I had to push through several uncomfortable evenings to get there and then suddenly, Wednesday and Thursday night, the urge was gone. I didn't see any lasting changes on the scale and resolved to hide them away. But I felt really good.

And then yesterday I ate twice, early. Bacon both times. I was really craving it and it felt delicious but I only ate five slices between two meals plus some spinach. I felt really full and kind of gross after the second meal and decided to see if I could fast for more than twenty-four hours. Before, when I've tried to fast that long, I have hit a huge mental block with the idea of going more than twenty-four hours. That is apparently just too scary to my tiny little brain. But I realized yesterday that if I started fasting at 1 pm I could eat the next day and also fast more than twenty-four hours. Win!

After my workout I was still feeling gross so I dragged the girls on foot to a friend's house (as opposed to taking a taxit) to walk it off. C had been invited to spend the night there so I figured Amelie and I would hang out for a few minutes and then head home. But then they invited us to stay for dinner... turned out they were having a dinner party. I told them I wasn't hungry and that I was doing keto but it turned out they were making a cauliflower-crust pizza which is totally keto-friendly and they served it to me and... I ate it anyway, even though I wasn't hungry. And then I kept eating. And then I came home and ate loads of tortilla chips. Healthy artisinal grain chips but still. Loaded with carbs.

I'm trying not to beat myself up. I'm focused on my successes because I know that's the only way to get back up again and climb back up on that proverbial horse. But it's hard. And then I ate too much lunch, partly because I was really hungry and partly because I was eating with distractions. Because I feel emotionally off right now. Anxious.

So my successes today are:

  1. I fasted 14:30.
  2. I drank black coffee this morning.
  3. I ate bacon and spinach for lunch which are good for getting me back into ketosis.
  4. I did a whole bunch of blogging to hopefully get out of the emotional funk.
  5. I'm about to work out. And will probably feel a lot better afterwards.
I didn't make a list of what I did wrong. Presumably, no one needs to read that.

Hopefully, my workout will get back on the path. Headed upstairs now to do it before Amelie wakes up.

January 2019 Abby

Did I mention I have a sitter and go out every Saturday night? Some of my favorite pals.

These two gals are also great. One in her marketed-to-parents-of-boys clothing and the other
in her ballerina gear. Never mind that she has no interest in dance class. 
So my update on me. I'm... struggling. Not exactly in a bad way. It's just a challenge. But I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life.

I have a part-time job working for an online company in the states where I answer health-related questions from new and expectant parents. I was expecting to work about twenty hours a week and thought that would be perfect, both financially and time-wise. (I also have rental income from my apartment in the states plus American wages go a lot further in Mexico.) But the work has been very, very slow in coming. And the questions are posted to a sort of bulletin board, and the first employee to see the question grabs it and answers it. So I only get work if I am sitting at my computer, waiting for it. And right now a good pay period is 2.5 hours of work, total. I feel so relieved when there is work but sitting around waiting for it is kind of depressing.

I just started volunteering at the clinic at CASA (Centro de Adolescentes de San Miguel de Allende) two weeks ago. That has been really magical so far. I've seen two brand new families, did a newborn exam, observed an ultrasound where a third family learned the sex of the fetus, witnessed the insertion of an IUD, participated in the prenatal visit of a fifteen-year-old who was pregnant with both a baby AND an IUD (very rare). I'm mostly shadowing two obstetric nurses but the midwives working there often invite me to join visits with families and several folks have offered to call me for deliveries. I haven't gotten any calls yet but I am excited to observe some births staffed by Mexican midwives!

Next month I start a four-month training program to become a pediatric sleep consultant. I am hoping to start an online, remote business providing sleep coaching for American parents, since American customers can afford much higher prices than Mexican ones. Though I'll probably offer to folks living in San Miguel, as well. But won't market myself heavily here?

I had been working on trying to build Amazon affiliate websites here to try to supplement my income but found myself spending a lot of energy avoiding the work. I finally decided that this is just not a good use of my energy. I have to follow my passions.

Monday and Wednesday mornings I go to a Piloxing class which I love -- it's a great workout -- but the social vibe there is very strange and unnerving to me. It feels rather cliquey which makes me anxious. Another friend pointed out to me that I could just decide to not go and this was revelatory to me! It had never occurred to me. I'm going to buy another card of ten classes, I think, and see how it feels. If it's still feeling bad for my self-esteem, I'll just stop. My fitness is not worth my sanity. I hate that I have social anxiety but in my forties, I've also learned to accept myself, faults and all, and not fight them so hard.

Thursday morning I have tutoring in Spanish for an hour and Friday mornings I usually have coffee with a group of English-speaking moms from my kids' school. Since the school is outside of town and my kids take the van to school, I appreciate this connection to the community plus the fact that it is in my language since when I go to school, everything is in Spanish. I love the Spanish immersion for my children but I feel a bit awkward in adult conversation when I so often can't follow what is being said. That, too, makes me a bit anxious. So I've mostly stopped going to the weekly Tuesday morning presentations to parents. They never seem particularly useful and asking folks for rides home afterward feels so uncomfortable.

I'm also -- being honest -- spending a lot of time avoiding dealing with medical bills because I am intimidated by them. Everything feels so complicated and things like making calls to the United States is so intimidating. So often the calls don't go through and I don't know why because I don't understand the automated messages from the Spanish-speaking phone company. But a call that I make at 10 am might not work at 10:30 and that is baffling and infuriating. I have one giant bill from Calliope's ER visit ($3600) in the States plus several other medical bills from that trip and they are so daunting. The insurance company says I need, in addition to the medical report, a statement from the physican and I can't figure out what that statement is supposed to say and how on earth I can get it. Especially from the ER physician. But $3600 is so much money! So I am stalling on that. And I don't even have a bill yet from the hospital, just a letter offering me financial aid in paying it and requesting lots of financial documents.

I'm also procrastinating on doing my taxes. Though to be fair, I haven't received all my tax documents and probably won't get the tax document from my co-op building until March, which is very annoying. But I'm going to have an enormous tax bill this year because of selling some stock. Trying to remember that this money is because of profit I made. I wish I could have handed the money over then, while I was still working, instead of now. I know it's going to freak me out to write that check.

So apart from dealing with those two things, I'm trying to figure out what to do next. I could try to be some sort of "health coach" to expat families here, since my NP license won't be recognized here. I don't love the idea of working solo so I'm planning to pitch a Dr friend here on working together.

I could also try to get a job at CASA. Right now the Director has indicated she would prefer to offer a job to a Mexican instead of me because funds are limited. But I think I could find a way to make myself indispensable and possibly bring in expat clientele who could afford to pay more. I also would love to pitch her on starting a pediatric practice at CASA as right now they only see newborns until they are 28 days old. Again, I would prefer not to work solo but I think my friend might be interested in collaborating on this. On the other hand, I would need to commit to working certain days and hours and would probably be limited in my ability to travel, for example, over the summer. On the other hand, Mexicans don't tend to work long hours like Americans do and it's quite possible, I believe, to maintain a family-friendly schedule. On the other hand, I'd be paid in pesos which is a lot less lucrative than American wages.

And I am hoping to start my business as a sleep coach. But I know nothing about the ins and outs of running a business. I think that I would enjoy elements of that because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. And I love the idea of being able to control my schedule and all the materials that I use. I think I would find the work satisfying and hopefully, financially rewarding as well. But not right off the bat. That could easily take six months or more.

That's all the overwhelming details and scenarios I can think of for now. If you have any advice, I'd love to hear it! I'm not rereading this or editing it because just reading it sounds overwhelming. So my apologies for any mistakes!

Lunch counter at the indoor San Juan de Dios Market

New Year's Eve dinner (observed) with some of our favorite friends. 
Attempting to make icing for gingerbread houses with a milk frother and a whisk since we don't have a mixer in Mexico.

Our gang of neighborhood pals.

December 2018

It's almost the end of January. Calliope is at a sleepover at her friend's house still and Amelie is happily watching Trolls. We are finally settled back into our regular routine here. It felt a long time in coming. December felt like a very challenging month after Calliope's autoimmune issues in November and into December -- she was waking up with stomach aches and nausea every morning, and was understandably (now, with perspective) was whiny and miserable a lot as a result. We only had two or three weeks of school after our trip to the States before the December break.

But we had a wonderful December break. We spent the first week in Mahahual which is on the Yucatan coast close to the border of Belize. Friends that we met here in SMA had moved there for three weeks. We rented a house three doors down from them (for $32 a night!) in the residential area of town and rented bikes so we could pedal to the boardwalk every day. It had been very cold here at night so it was wonderful to be warm again.

Unfortunately... we came in contact with a stomach bug at some point during our travels. Amelie got it first, followed by Calliope the next day, then me, and then our friends vomiting started the final day of our stay. It was pretty miserable and I felt even worse to get them sick. On the plus side, it was great that it was spaced out enough that I wasn't sick at the same time as the kids? We didn't have internet access at the house but the kids were amazingly mellow and cooperative when I was sick and my friend came over and brought dinner for the kids when I couldn't manage.

I think they were probably glad to be rid of us by the time we left! But they were amazingly gracious about the whole thing. Let's just say the dad bicycled lots of loads of laundry back and forth to the laudromat. And now I know to ask ahead of time if a house has spare sheets in the house -- ours did not and this was far from ideal.

From Mahahual we took a bus up the coast to Playa del Carmen. We spent one night there in a beautiful boutique hotel a friend had recommended. The pool was gorgeous in an inner courtyard but freezing cold because the sun never touched it. But the beach was an easy two blocks away.

I so rarely travel alone with my children and am always shocked to discover that I actually do enjoy it. It's not exactly relaxing but at the same time, it makes me appreciate my cozy little group and feel oddly self-sufficient.

We tried and failed to take a local bus from Playa -- waited 2.5 hours and it never came -- so we hopped in a cab and traveled 30 minutes to our all-inclusive in Puerto Morelos, near Cancun. We met up with my brother and his family there. I think I'm not a giant fan of all-inclusives but in this case, it was very convenient and easy. The five kids had a blast running around, alternating between beach and pool, dancing, scampering, digging, splashing. I hope that this trip really bonded them. The adults got along well and I, at least, never fought with anyone.

After our trip we came back to more than a week of down time before school started again. That was pretty heavenly. Very relaxing and lots of social time with friends. I've resolved not to let social anxiety plague me. So many nice people here. If one person triggers me, just move on to the next one! After biking on the boardwalk in Mahahual, Calliope is also successfully riding the new (bigger) bike she received for Hanukkah and Amelie is scooting along on her little bike without pedals.

And now the kids are settled back in school. I was worried Calliope would be anxious to return but she's actually been pretty happy. Amelie was only clingy for a day. They are both sleeping more than they used to, perhaps because they both got bad colds as soon as we got back -- Calliope ended up missing three days of school.

As for me and what I'm doing, apart from keto... that'll be the next post.
Hanukkah party at our house -- last minute and small but fun 

Visiting the x-mas tree in Centro with our friends

Calliope's class (with teacher Yolanda)

Another class photo

The jardin, decorated for x-mas

The gorgeous view from dinner 

Dinner with SMC Jackie

A pop-up skating rink in Mexico? Calliope was THRILLED.

Calliope was thrilled to cavort with Kiara again

Singing to the sunset

Beach in Mahahual

Beach running

Mahahual as darkness falls

Playa del Carmen at night

Family fun in Playa del Carmen

All inclusive in Puerto Morelos

Sister love

Amelie adores cousin Ezra

The whole family

Our family

Five cousins

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Keto Update Nine: Small Successes

I'm thrilled to report that I feel like I am back on track after my tough week last week. Yay!

I do think, in hindsight, that I pushed too hard with the fasting. It may work for some folks but it didn't work for me.

So this week I set a goal to fast sixteen hours a day and limit my eating to eight hours a day. I'm thrilled to report that I met and sometimes exceeded that goal! And after a few days, it got much, much easier. As long as I have my coffee with cream (which some says breaks the fast but others do not) in the morning and some slighly salty water to sip on, I'm good until at least noon every day again. Phew!

On Friday, two days ago, I was feeling so good that I decided to extend my fast to nearly twenty-four hours. No problem! I felt great and my ketones were up to 1.6 by lunchtime. The only drawback was I definitely ate a large dinner afterward... but since it was making up for a whole day's worth of calories, I felt okay if not ideal about it. I definitely ate more than my body needed, though -- there was some mouth hunger at play. Something to work on next time. And my ketones were up to 1.3 the following day and remain there today, yay!

Yesterday I was more hungry and cranky so I stopped my fast after sixteen hours and had a nice big brunch (at home) of eggs, keto mug bread, mushrooms and spinach tossed with cream cheese. Delicious! Dinner was steak with green beans and creamed spinach with decaf with cream for "dessert."

My struggle now is at night and after meals, generally. I feel snacky. Today I had two small squares of 100% cacao chocolate and two small squares of 90% cacao chocolate. And then I set my fasting timer to start timing again so that hopefully I won't be tempted to eat again until dinner.

The sources I have been reading and listening to stress the importance of not snacking between meals so as to allow the liver to quickly process any carbohydrates and begin burning fat again. This also allows insulin levels to drop down.

I listened to the most amazing podcast by a bariatric surgeon who is also an expert on the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting. He says that "every snack is an emotional event." He says human beings are only designed to eat once or twice a day and that breakfast is an event marketed by Kellogg's to sell cornflakes in the 1890s. He aruges that carbohydrates are actually not a food because they are not required for survival -- human beings are able to survive without them. In fact, we are the only species (of course) who eats them. When we feed grain to cows, we fatten them up and make them sick. When we feed grains to ducks, we give them fatty liver disease.

Anonymous, thanks for posting and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate the caring that went into them. (I wish I knew your name, though!) I know that this all probably sounds crazy and plenty like disordered eating. Perhaps my pushing too fast and my struggling were disordered. Probably. But I do fully believe in the science of ketosis and intermittent fasting. It's a hard transition to make but often times, my body feels so amazing. And I'm the lowest weight I've been in... golly. Twelve years? I'm about seven pounds from my goal. My energy levels are really good, especially now that I am being more consistent with exercise. My mood is mostly really good. No more post-meal lethargy. Best of all, I feel in control of my destiny.

November 2018 and January 2018

I am planning to join a moderated level one fasting group this week. (Level one is for beginners so much easier than the last time I tried the moderated fasts.) Today was day one with fasting eight hours followed by six hours of eating. I had lunch at 1 pm so I'll have dinner at about 5 to finish by six. Tomorrow I will fast twenty-four hours, which sounds tough but really is just skipping breakfast and lunch; I'll eat dinner tomorrow, as usual, and then do another 18:6 on Tuesday, 24 on Wednesday, 18:6 on Thursday and then, the big challenge, a 36 on Friday. I'll be nervous for that because of how it messed with me so much last time to do a longer fast... but I'll be cautious. If I start to feel crazy again, I'll stop. But I think this week of 18s and 24s will build my "fasting muscle" and my confidence and so I am cautiously optimistic. If it goes well, I'll do another week of beginner level fasting and then reassess how I am feeling.

I decided to track yesterday, just out of curiosity. It ended up being a really big eating day, as you can see, because I was really hungry, so I exceeded my macros. (I'm hoping my period is coming -- keto has thrown it off -- and that may be making me more hungry.) But you can see I eat a wide variety of foods with lots of fresh vegetables (and fat and protein). I try to honor my hunger at every meal and never stop eating if I am still hungry. My favorite keto experts say not to worry about calories and to eat to fullness at every meal (and then stop eating). So I'm doing that, I think, and feeling good. Plus I am working out and so I assume that impacts my appetite plus it helps my mood so much.
I am doing the first group, Fasting Challenge #1.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Keto Update Number Eight: Still Struggling

Guys. I'm really having trouble sticking to this. I don't know what the problem is. I'm still trying to be gentle with myself and not beat myself up but I also think my tummy is growing back a little and I am scared of losing all the ground I've gained.

Taking a step back and trying to look at this as if I were talking to a friend... maybe I am still pushing too hard with the fasting? I don't understand where my fasting muscle went! It was so easy over the Christmas break. I felt so fantastic.

I'm still really enjoying the food. That's not the issue. But waiting to eat feels really, really hard sometimes.

Yesterday I fasted 16:30, until lunch. We got up early and I had coffee (I don't count the cream in my coffee as breaking my fast) and then went to Queretaro for the day with friends. We went to Costco first and I had a great time finding all sorts of delicious foods to buy. (I am not at all convinced that going to Costco saves any money! It's not like i would've bought that many raspberries, for example, at the grocery store.) I was totally fine for hunger until the check out line. At that point I started to feel a little irritable from hunger but I knew it wouldn't be much longer.

We drove to the mall -- a quick drive -- and then went straight to a restaurant. At that point, I felt ravenous, but that is often the way -- the final few minutes of waiting for food are the hardest. I had eggs benedict (but with salmon instead of ham) and scraped off nearly all the biscuit -- couldn't resist a few bites, so delicious! (I have a weakness for biscuits. English muffins I could care less about.) Plus I ate all the tomato that came with it. I was still hungry after that so I ordered a side of bacon. I didn't really need to eat all of that but I was so distracted (?stressed) by my friend's son's meltdown that I ate it all. After that, we did a few very quick stops at various stores before heading home.

We got home from the mall and I put away all our purchases and I was suddenly exhausted. And starving. In hindsight, I think I was very dehydrated -- I had barely drunk any water all day because I had been drinking coffee (first caffeinated, then decaf). Being dehydrated can make a person feel hungry anyway plus it spikes insulin which also increases appetite. But I was so tired and so hungry I couldn't think straight.

So I made a big plate of carnitas and cabbage and roasted cauliflower. And had a couple of sugar free chocolates (thanks Costco!) to follow it up. I was overly stuffed afterwards but glad I stuck to keto. At that point I was so full I thought it would be easy to fast from then (5 pm) until the next day, hopefully even noon, eighteen hours. I did this the other day and it felt great.

But then only a couple of hours later, I started thinking about the leftover sour cream and onion Pringles in the cabinet. A big weakness of mine. They've been there at least a couple weeks already so mostly I've been fine but... not last night. I did, at least, try drinking a bunch of water first. But I still ate them. On the plus side, I did NOT eat more carbs after that, well, apart from a couple more sugar-free chocolates. Even though digestive biscuits sounded extremely delicious.

This morning I've had a whole lot of coffee, both bullet-proof (has MCT oil and butter instead of cream) and regular with cream. I had a few pistachio nuts too, which isn't ideal in terms of breaking my fast but isn't terrible, either. I did get a pretty good night's sleep. I've been feeling really tired which undoubtedly plays a role in things, too. It's always harder for me to eat well (and appropriate quantities) when I am tired. I'm not sure if more exercise would help or hinder. Last week I did a lot fewer workouts than usual though I did walk a fair amount. I worked out Saturday and it felt hard AND I was exhausted afterwards.

Oh man. I feel like I need a coach to tell me what to do but I really don't want to spend the money on that! I've signed up for a free twelve week program from the Intensive Dietary Management group and I am hoping that will help. And maybe someday all my struggles here will help someone else?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Keto Update Seven: Falling Off the Wagon, and Getting Back Up Again

Well. So trying to ramp up my fasting so quickly turned out to be a disaster.

I managed to get through my forty-eight hour fast and gorged myself -- not sure if this is expected and permissible or not -- and then embarked on my twenty-four hour fast... and just ran out of steam. I was completely miserable. I missed eating. All this fasting meant very few eating opportunities. I even missed cooking vegetables!

So I stopped at 22:30 and ate a big keto-friendly meal. And then added in some (slightly stale) potato chips. Though I'd like to ?brag that I didn't come close to finishing them. And added in two digestive biscuits for good measure. Both are foods I miss when I'm keto'ing... though I don't remember to miss them most of the time. But fasting is a good time to think back on the foods I've loved over the years.

The next morning my ketones were down to 1.0, which actually seemed pretty great, considering. And the next day they were up to 1.2 after better eating, though today they were mysteriously down to 0.9, despite eating pretty well yesterday. I'm guessing the artificial sweetener in the sugar free Jello mix I sprinkled on my heavy whipping cream was the culprit?

I'm trying to be a lot more gentle with myself, and backtrack a lot in fasting. I was doing really well with 16-22 hour fasts over the vacation when I got too big for my britches and inspired by the Obesity Code folks on FB. So the last two days I only fasted 12-14 hours overnight. Last night I was really hungry so I ate early with the girls and mentally closed the kitchen by 6 pm which ended up being really great because it was relatively easy to fast until noon today... eighteen hours!

I had a nice brunch, perhaps followed by a little too much dark chocolate and almonds but oh well. Progress, not perfection. I feel like I need to handle myself with kid gloves for a few more days. Anything that isn't cookies and chips is a win!

My goal is to fast 16-18 hours a day for the next few days until it feels really good and easy ?again. (Did it feel easy before? I think so but it's hard to remember!) When I get there, I'll start trying to stretch out my fast every other day to get it to twenty-four hours or so on alternate days. And once that is easy, I'll very gently try to stretch that to thirty-six or even forty-two hours. And then that's it! The IDM Network says 3 x 36 or 42 per week is ideal for losing weight. So there's no reason to go to forty-eight hours.

Getting to twenty-four hours hasn't been too bad in the past but the mental hurdle of going a whole day without a meal (with a twenty-four there's one meal a day) is significant. I think I need to be very, very careful with this or I trigger obsessive thinking and then binge in response. Not good. So I am trying to remember not to rush. And my main goal is just to remain in ketosis. If I can at least do that, I'm doing great!

I have decided to stay off the scale because it doesn't do anything good for my sanity. If I'm focusing on ketosis and intermittent fasting as a way life, as opposed to a diet, the daily ups and downs of the scale simply don't matter. (Right?) I can tell that my skin is softer and smoother from doing keto. And my pants are too big. Whether they are too big since last month or last week, it doesn't really matter, right? I'll keep measuring my ketones every day to make sure I am keeping them in check and otherwise, TRY to relax. Not easy for me!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Keto Update Six, Part Two: Forty-Eight Hour Fast Update

I'm thirty-eight hours into my my first forty-eight hour (and moderated) fast!

I'm feeling pretty great right now. Especially when I am successfully distracted from thinking about it.

But I'm not going to lie, last night was really, really tough. I felt miserable and hungry. I'm not sure if I was miserably hungry or just hungry and miserable from the mental aspect of fasting.

I tried drinking more water with apple cider vinegar and salt. I tried drinking bone broth. I finally resorted to a mouthful of heavy cream. I figured I would try that, put the kids to bed, and then come back to the kitchen and break my fast.

But to my amazement, by the time the girls were in bed, the misery had mostly passed! I couldn't believe it.

So I bypassed the kitchen which was already clean from the girls' dinner -- they fight over who gets to the dishes lately -- and settled into the couch to relax and hopefully distract myself. Within an hour I was starting to doze off.

Unfortunately, I didn't sleep all that soundly, which can happen because of increased adrenaline during a fast. But that same adrenaline is making me not feel tired now, and is actually making me feel pretty great.

I had one little bout of diarrhea which surprised me because I didn't think there was any food left in my gut. But unlike my earlier fasts, no headaches. My energy is good. My mood is good.

And the two kilograms that I had gained yesterday after my cheat meal... gone today! Phew! My ketones are only up to 1.6 this morning from 1.4 yesterday afternoon which is certainly high enough for fat burning but I would normally expect to see them above two by now after fasting so long. But this is payback for my cheat. Oh well.

I am hoping that I can lose two more kg by the end of the week (which includes a twenty-four hour fast and then another forty-eigh hour fast) to bring me back to my new low that I landed at very briefly last week, just once. If I can acheive that -- and stay at it -- then I would be only 3 kg from my goal weight!

But of course the final pounds are the hardest, and of course there is some rebound weight gain after ending a fast. I'm not too obsessed with the numbers, I think, I'd just like to see some progress in the right direction. I've been stuck at this weight for a couple weeks now.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Keto Update Six: First Forty-Eight Hour Fast

Nearly eighteen hours fasted!
(Ignore the goal -- I don't know how to adjust it on a daily basis
so it's set for my standard day of 16:8 fasting to eating.)

(I forgot to publish the last post so that's why it looks like I just ended it today but it actually ended two days ago.)

Today I am trying a moderated fast, my first! There's a whole group of us on a FB site that are all following the same schedule all week, with the caveat that we are spread around the globe so everyone is in a different place in her fast. But it's still cool to have company! I really wish I had a fasting buddy. I have a couple keto buddies and it's so helpful but so far they don't fast. I think for me, with PCOS and also with having a relatively small amount to lose but a stubborn metabolism, the fasting will be necessary. Either that or I have an obsessive personality and can't do anything halfway. Probably both!

Unfortunately, I ate some non-keto food last night. Leftover pigs in blankets from Saturday night. I just didn't have the mental energy to resist.

But I am being kind to myself and I can see that I really needed that, mentally. And so I will try to remember and not be frustrated when the scale isn't moving steadily downward as I would like. Changing one's way of eating so drastically is not easy! When I think about the fact that I am attempting to fast forty-eight hours today, and to fast three times in total this week, I am amazed! I would have never considered this a few short months ago.

So if it's two steps forward, one step back, or even the reverse... I am still progressing overall.

Today I am also not drinking Ultima (electrolyte solution) but instead, am drinking water with apple cider vinegar and salt. Fasting makes people lose a lot of water and also electrolytes. Failing to replace the salt can cause water retention. Clearly, I don't want that! But I am surprised to find that water with apple cider vinegar and salt is surprisingly tasty!

I went to my first Piloxing class this morning since our vacation and it was TOUGH but also felt really good. I could see my workout shirt was noticeably baggier, which was nice. (I'm working hard not to think that it might have been baggier still a few days ago.) As a New Year's resolution I've started doing at least five push-ups off the bathroom counter every time I use the bathroom, and to do a few quick biceps curls at least once a day and I can also see more definition in my shoulders which is nice.

I'm currently almost eighteen hours into my fast! I'm kind of glad it's almost time to go get the girls and then sit in a dance studio for a while. It will be a good distraction. Thinking too much about this makes it harder.

Keto Update 5, Part Two: The End of the Fast

I made it to forty hours! 

I'm pretty excited because I want to take part in moderated fasting events through FB starting Monday and the first one is forty-eight hours. So I wanted to see how close I could get. Getting past the forty-hour mark feels significant.

So I was disappointed that bone broth derailed me last night, and that I ate a few almonds as a result, but I'm proud that I powered through anyway and I assume I got most of the benefits of fasting anyway? In any case, nothing I can do about it now. Onwards and upwards.

I was worried I would have trouble sleeping but I actually slept amazingly well and woke up feeling really good, just thirsty. But not particularly hungry. I made the mistake of stepping on the scale and I had actually gained 2 kg! I measured my belly though and it's down about 1.5 inches from when I first measured. It's just a piece of floss so I don't actually know how big my circumference is in inches.

I noticed my bra is a little baggy in addition to my underwear.

I'm trying to stay off the scale as long as I can, now! At least until after I get my period -- PMS always makes me extra hungry AND retain fluid.

I decided to end my fast at 1 pm and felt like I could eat a horse! I started with some smoked salmon and cream cheese, then made leftover spinach, mushroom and brie "crepes" (made with almond flour and lots of egg). I also made ninety-second keto microwave mug "bread." I could only eat one crepe, to my amazement, though I ate extra spinach and mushroom plus the whole microwave mug bread. I finished it off with a decadent square of Lindt 90% dark chocolate. Yum.

Keto spinach, mushroom, and brie crepes
I'm hoping to eat again in about five hours, and to squeeze a workout in before our friends come over for a family slumber party. After dinner I hope to fast eighteen hours and eat within a six hour window tomorrow... and then do my first ever group, moderated fast. The schedule is a forty-eight hour fast on Monday and Friday and a twenty-four hour fast on Wednesday, with an 18:6 fasting/eating schedule in between. Looking at the schedule, the hardest part may be getting only one meal after the forty-eight hour fast before launching into a twenty-four.

The other slightly complicated thing is that I don't want to end a fast at 9 pm -- not a good time for a big meal! So I have to be thoughtful about when to start my fasts.

Forty-eight hour fasts on Monday and Friday with a twenty-four hour on Wed. And only one meal between the forty-eight and the twenty-four. Yikes! 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Keto Update Number Five: My First Thirty-Six Hour Fast

I'm posting in the midst of my first thirty-six hour fast. I ended up doing a 56 hour fast on vacation but that was only because I had a stomach bug and by the time I felt any interest in eating again, twenty-four hours had already gone by and I thought, "heck, let's see how long I can make this last."

This time is much more intentional. I've been gradually trying to "strengthen my fasting muscle" and have been doing sixteen-hour fasts almost daily, two twenty-hour fasts, and one twenty-four hour fast. It's interesting to observe that the hardest part, regardless of the length, is always just before the end of the fast, when I know it's time to eat and my mental state changes to "I can't wait to eat!" And then those last few minutes or hour until I actually can eat are torture.

When I first learned about keto, I thought, "no way could I ever do that! that sounds miserable!" And then I started to warm up to keto and learned about intermittent and extended fasting and thought the same thing, absolutely no way could I ever fast. Even trying to fast a few hours for Yom Kippur used to make me sick and headachy.

But gradually, the more I learned, the more intrigued I became. It turns out that that sick feeling we feel while fasting is from running out of glycogen, aka the short-term supply of stored sugar we have in our muscles and liver. But when we are in ketosis, our body is burning fat and most of us have endless supplies of body fat so we don't nearly as hungry when we don't eat. You know, in theory.

And in truth, it's been much easier than I expected... but it's still not easy, at least, it's not easy some of the time.

In terms of my reasons for why to fast, well, according to the work of Dr. Jason Fung, fasting allows our body to heal and rejuvenate all kinds of cellular damage in the body (I am overly simplifying). It also allows our basal metabolic rate to actually speed up. When we fast, we produce adrenaline. That's why when you are really hungry, you are rarely sleepy. You tend to feel hyperalert. Calorie deprivation causes the metabolism to gradually slow down but fasting actually speeds it up. Totally counter intuitive but he's got tons of evidence to back it up.

Fasting can also, of course, burns lots of calories and stored fat. I'm especially interested in burning visceral fat and hopefully reversing my presumed insulin resistance which causes my PCOS. Reversing insulin resistance is a great way to promote one's odds at longevity.

Plus, for vanity reasons, I would love to lose another ten pounds.

So here I am, fasting away. Imperfectly. I have a coffee in the morning with a splash (or more) of heavy cream which is not ideal but apparently won't totally derail things if it's less than fifty calories or so. I've been drinking water mixed with Ultima electrolyte powder which helps with hunger (and electrolytes, which can get depleted with both ketosis and fasting) but any artificial sweetener, even Stevia, can spike insulin and thus slow weight loss. After watching a coaching session on Facebook today, I was resolved to switch from Ultima to bone broth but actually, having the bone broth made me hungry! Which was really tough because I was drinking it as the girls ate dinner. Serving food and having a tray of gingerbread under my nose while fasting was not easy! So I had a few salted almonds.

Finally, I just had to muscle through the cravings as they ate. That was the first time all day that it was really challenging. Other times, I just mixed up a big bottle of (weak) Ultima and swigged it until the cravings passed. It's really true what Dr Fung says about fasting -- hunger comes in waves, and then passes... and also, hunger is not exponential. You aren't twice as hungry on day two as you were on day one, and three times as hungry on day three. It actually starts to diminish over time. And otherwise, I tend to feel really good and clear-headed... but also a bit more irritable, especially with my kids. Or maybe it's just that one of them was more annoying today than usual, Hard to say!

After dinner was finally over, we all took a hot bath together which was nice since I had been irritable, and also because I was cold... when learning to fast, one's basal metabolic rate can slow down, causing the faster to feel cold. Supposedly with time, my body will get used to this and I will actually feel hot while fasting! Sounds nice. It's chilly here in SMA at this time of year -- though lovely and warm in the sun in the middle of the day -- so it's hard to tell when it's me versus the weather. At least I am nice and warm now after that bath and covered with a blanket on the couch.

I am hoping I won't have trouble sleeping tonight from the fasting-related adrenaline plus hunger but otherwise, I feel pretty good. And I am excited to see how far I can go and if this will result in any visible changes. My underwear is starting to feel slightly baggy! My butt is definitely -- slowly -- getting smaller, which is a nice change. But that final bulge on my stomach -- the one most significant to health -- is stubborn. I want to see that gone. My optimism about that shifts wildly from hour to hour. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Keto Update Number Four: Getting Back On Track

Feeling thinner on departure day

We came home from our vacation to certain disasters challenges. We got home and dropped our luggage and immediately went on a (slow) walk to the health food store and vegetable stand to get fresh food. We got home and I started cooking dinner. I found a bunch of rotten produce in the fridge so started throwing things away and scrubbing out refrigerator drawers as I cooked.

It wasn't until we were about to sit down to eat that Calliope went to get ice for her water and we realized that the fridge and freezer were dead. No power for god knows how long. I suddenly realized why the refrigerator had smelled bad, and why there was so much rotting produce (which I had expected would survive our trip).

We sat down to eat and after a few minutes, Calliope suddenly felt nauseous and retired to the couch. I started scouring the neighborhood, looking for a place to stash the organic (aka not cheap) milk and cream I had just bought as poor Calliope started vomiting. Finally, I found a friend that was home and left things with her and dashed back home to comfort Calliope.

I sent a message to our landlord and put us to bed. But not before eating a bunch of trail mix. Waaaah. Not good for keto but I was emotionally spent and searching for comfort. It could have been worse. At least it was lots of nuts, which are good for keto (along with raisins and M&Ms which are obviously not good for keto).

The next morning I was mad at myself and tried to fast and.... ate more trail mix. Sigh.

I also cleaned out the freezer which was pretty disgusting. Luckily poor C was feeling better.

Unfortunately, I realized that whatever zapped the fridge and freezer also killed the microwave and put out a bunch of lights. Plus I had let our gas supply run down to zero -- it went down faster than I anticipated -- so I couldn't cook or run the dishwasher or even heat things in the microwave. Not to mention shower. Sigh.

So it was another rough day.

Luckily the refrigerator and freezer is now fixed. The microwave should hopefully be returned today. And supposedly a gas truck should FINALLY be showing up today. Fingers crossed. We showered two days ago at a friend's house but my hair is feeling disgusting right now. And I have a massage scheduled for later today because they were too pricey at the resort.

On the plus side, in addition to the refrigerator being repaired, I went 22 hours fasting yesterday. I'm on track to go about 25 hours today. When I woke up this morning, my ketones were finally high again. Tomorrow I plan to do two meals to boost my metabolism up -- continuing to eat only one meal a day can slow it down over the longer term (but keeping my eating window short allows for low insulin levels and higher growth hormone levels to repair cellular damage and lower insulin resistance). And then I am hoping to try to (?eventually) stretch to a 36 hour fast. Apparently they are ideal for healing insulin resistance which is associated (or causes) PCOS.

Since we got home I gained back about four pounds that I had lost but lost one again today. My ketones are finally back up above 2 today which feels like a huge success. I'm drinking tons of water with a little Ultima for electrolytes which helps with hunger. Yesterday I had a big steak with salad, grilled veg, and a portabello mushroom covered with some kind of gooey cheese. So good. Looking forward to a nice dinner out with a friend tonight -- first time without my kids in more than two weeks.

Looking forward to pushing through the challenges and reaching my goal which is ten pounds away. Fasting 57 hours after my stomach bug made me lose quickly so I'm hoping 36 hour fasts will help too, and quickly!

This is a little embarrassing to share but here's a photo of the old me and the newer me... First time I have ever asked someone to take a photo of me in a bathing suit!

Keto Update Three (A Few Days Old) and Puerto Morelos

Five cousins

We are headed home from our all inclusive in Puerto Morelos with my brother’s family.

We had a wonderful time. Amazingly drama free. Very slow paced and occasionally I felt antsy but mostly it was great. His kids are 10, 3, and almost 2 so combining that with my kids, 3 and 7, that’s a lot of littles — four under 4. All with nap schedules. So we only left the resort once, to go to a crocodile zoo/animal rescue site. It was surprisingly interesting and every group gets a private tour so we learned a lot in a short time. My favorites were the medium sized cats.

Unfortunately, we never got to the village of Puerto Morelos but there’s always next year! I hope we will do a trip like this every year because it was so great to see the kids playing together. And not being guests in someone else’s home meant no stress for me about imposing. And not having to cook or clean up from meals was great for all of us. Of course, eating in public with three toddlers has its own stress — we broke quite a number of dishes, and our meals were certainly never relaxing — but it was a worthwhile tradeoff, overall. And the food was great.

I was really nervous about keto eating on vacation but it actually worked out great. There was always grilled fished and meat available on request, and guacamole at many meals — great for adding both fiber and fat with minimal carbs. 

I’ve given up on tracking because it makes me feel miserable and stressed to think about how much food I am “allowed.” I can’t believe that a computer can be smarter about what my body needs than listening to my body. 

Amazingly, it all seems to be working! Perhaps because I did a fifty-six hour fast after the stomach bug! I can’t wait to get home and weigh myself on my questionable scale but for now, I am looking at old photos of myself and comparing them to new ones and shaking my head in amazement. I keep looking at them over and over again because I just can’t believe it. I never ever thought I would get back to a place where I liked my body again. I’m so everlastingly grateful!

A few days ago, my thighs were looking wobbly. I thought that perhaps it was because I haven’t been working out. I never, ever miss my workouts like this but I didn’t have wireless (to stream my workouts) and then this week I would have had to workout in the bathroom during Amelie’s nap time to have a workout opportunity. Not only did that not appeal, Calliope was watching her shows in the bathroom then. So I’ve skipped.

So I was a little worried about the wobbly thighs and started doing a few squats but otherwise figured I would address it when we get home. But then the next day, I woke up and looked in the mirror and my thighs were noticeably smaller! And the wobble was much less.

I had a woosh! I’ve read about them but didn’t think it would happen to me. But basically, your body burns fat but fills the empty fat cells with water. But then after a few days more of ketosis, the fat cells empty and release the water. So there’s a sudden weight loss (and volume loss).
I never imagined my thighs would get smaller. It’s terribly exciting. I have a little gap between them when my legs are together now. I never thought that would happen for me again.

Another interesting thing is that when I have little tastes of non-veto things at night, not only are my ketones lower in the morning but I’m also more hungry and more desirous of carbs things. But when I stick to nuts at night, I’m not nearly as hungry in the morning. Better eating = less hunger certainly reinforces the keto habit! 

In one last bit of news, I just paid a chunk of money to participate in a four month training course to become a certified pediatric sleep consultant. I’m hoping to pair this training (and my considerable interest in sleep) with my pediatric NP background to forge a new career as a “digital nomad,” helping new families with sleep issues, regardless of their location or mine. If I can get this sorted plus be at my goal weight (not there yet but not too far off), I would be in heaven. Wish me luck!

Amelie adores her cousin
The whole family