July 28, 2016

Slow, but Steady Progress

I cannot believe it is Thursday already! I mean, this week has just zoomed by, and here we are, almost to the weekend. July is almost over, August is around the corner, and I have less than a month to get ready to teach my fall classes. I think I woke up this morning thinking to myself, "Okay, Carol, you had better get yourself in gear...this is the countdown starting today!" Yes, I am feeling the nudge to get myself in gear, to start working on finalizing my plans, making progress, and generally, move toward finishing my proposal. Sigh! It is the "10 minus" countdown for me, and I had better get moving!

My prayer today is to get all my work done, everything, so that I can head into August with my proposal finished. My plans, at the least, are to make the final edits to my chapter 1, and then to be prepared to change my chapter 2 and 3 as soon as those revisions arrive via email. Until that time, I am stuck. I am a duck out of water, so to speak. I know my professor is busy, but I do need to plan my future. I need to get this done or as Larry the Cable Guy says, "Git R Done!" I need to have this monster off my back so I can focus on my life again. I am so ready to graduate, so ready to finish this schooling, and so ready to REST from all my work! Lord willing, of course!


Taking Control of my Health

I think I am in ketosis, well, at the least, I was up until yesterday. I had more carbs than allowed on Atkins Induction Phase 1, but my urine had that awful smell that tells me that I am passing ketones. I am also feeling the hard hit of ketosis today. This whole week, I have had headaches, and then yesterday, I started to feel really wiped out. Last night, I crashed early, around 7 p.m., and then I slept until 9 a.m. this morning. I felt "flu-ish" in the night, and right now, I feel water logged, just slogged. I am struggling to even sit up straight. I just feel worn out.

I've read numerous articles about what the symptoms are for "Keto Flu," and basically I have some of them:
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • upset stomach
  • Lack of mental clarity (brain fog)
  • sleepiness
  • fatigue
The so-called "flu" is experienced by many people when they first start a low-carb diet. This is because the body is switching its fuel type by burning ketones instead of glucose. It is normal for the first few days of any low-carb eating plan. According to Lilja (2011), blogger at Low Carb Food List, the way to combat the "keto flu" is to "Drink water, replenish electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium) with food and supplements, drink broth, eat fat and not too much protein" (para. 11).

If you read through the comments on Lilja's blog, you will see that many people report feeling sick for several days to two weeks. The symptoms can be mild or severe, and most people report that the first time they are in ketosis, the symptoms are much worse. I don't recall feeling this way the first time around. I would describe my symptoms as mild, annoyingly so. I am glad I am not suffering with intense symptoms. Though I think the reason is that I am not doing strict carb reduction (under 20g). I have been in the 18g-30g range. I plan to drop my carbs back down to 20g today since my parents are eating out with their bible study group (so dinner will be easier to manage). The key for me is to find my "sweet spot" where I can be full and still be in ketosis so the fat stores are getting used for fuel. 

So far for progress, I have lost 3.2 pounds in about 14 days. This is a modest amount of weight to lose, but just since Monday when I reduced my carbs, I have lost 2.2 pounds. I will check today when I weigh-in again, but my hope is that I continue to lose the weight at a steady clip this week and then into next (my two week induction). After that time, I want to lose 1-2 pounds a week so that I can reach my target weight (20 pounds down) by the first of September. Lord, willing, I should say.

Understanding Nutrition

Lately, I have been thinking that I need to become an expert on nutrition, at the least, my own nutrition. It is funny, but whenever I read the blog post comments, and I hear how sick people are, I realize how our diet has poisoned us over the years. The bloggers are not just eating a typical American diet because many are from the UK and other countries in Europe or from Australia. This says to me that the 20th century diet, which is heavily processed has had serious repercussions on general health, vitality, and well-being. I never thought I would become a health-nut, but I am seriously considering it.  The foods we eat have a direct impact on our health. If we put garbage into our bodies basically we are sabotaging our God-given, God-created health. Think back to Genesis when the Lord gave food to Adam and Eve. The Lord provided the natural foods He knew Adam and Eve needed to survive. In Genesis 9:3 (ESV) we read, "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything." God did prohibit the consumption of meat, however. In verse 4 (ESV), we read: "But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." There were many reasons for this (see GotQuestions.org for a great explanation of the physical and spiritual reasons). At the time of the flood, God removed this restriction and permitted Noah to eat meat. However, it is important to note that originally God intended for mankind to eat vegetables and not kill animals. As Christians, we are not under the dietary restrictions and laws of the Old Testament, and we have freedom in Christ to choose the foods we eat. Still, in some ways it is best to consider God's original design, to remember the sacredness of "lifeblood." If we consider that God gave us everything we needed for vitality and longevity, and that the food He provided was in the form of vegetables, we can easily see why so many people are choosing to live a natural, albeit vegan lifestyle. 

I think it is interesting when we consider that for centuries, people survived on limited amounts of meat. My ancestors from 100-200 years ago didn't always eat meat. In fact, rarely did they have meat as a meal. My Dad will tell me that growing up on a farm in Indiana didn't mean they had meat all the time either. Mostly, they ate foods that were grown on the farm, eggs, cheese, milk, and garden vegetables. Meat was a luxury for most people up until the 20th century. Prior to that time, most people ate a lot of organically grown vegetables. Fats, when they were consumed were naturally occurring. Yes, as gross as it seems today, most people ate lard (or the fat that comes from animals). 

Chemicals to combat insects were non-existent, and grains when eaten as breads, were all natural, unbleached, and unprocessed. Corn, wheat, rice, etc. were eaten after minimal processing. These foods were from God's earth, and they were considered "clean" according to the Bible. Nowadays, there is this push to eat all natural, all organic. Organic foods are more expensive than the commercially processed varieties, and for many families, eating organic is not possible. Yet, it is what is best for our bodies, and it is what can help us live naturally long, and more healthy and beneficial lives.

But, in order to live healthy lives, we have to understand how our bodies work, and how our bodies process the foods we eat. Thus, we need to understand how to eat properly, what types of foods to eat and what types to avoid. In doing so, we can take back control of our health, and for some of us, even recover from annoying to life-altering symptoms that are the result of our body waging war against itself (autoimmune disorders occur when our immune system begins to attack the body). 

I suffer from a whole host of issues that I believe are directly related to what I eat. I know changing my diet will improve my overall health, not just help me shed excess weight. In order to take control of my health, I have to change my diet. I've known this for years, but I am so addicted to carbs, that I cannot live without them. Truly, I am a carb-addict. I cannot imagine giving up cakes, cookies, pastas and breads. These things are my go-to foods whenever I am sad or when I feel depressed. Yet, I know that when I limit my carbs, I feel so much better. I mean like "really better." I just feel less bloat, less stomach problems like gas and constipation. I feel healthier, like I have more energy, and like I am better (more fit). 

Choosing An Approach

I've thought about several approaches to eating healthy, natural or organic foods. These are popular methods today, ones that you read about all over the Internet:
  • "Clean Eating" or Organic, Non-processed
  • Vegan or vegetarian
  • Paleo or Primal (aka, Cavaman)
  • The Daniel Diet or Daneil Plan (Dr. Amen's diet)
  • The Ketogenic Diet (Low-Carb)
Of all these approaches (and note that they are all very similar), I think the one that will work best for me is a combination of organic, non-processed, and whole foods. 

Right now, I am following Atkins low-carb with the hope of losing 20 pounds quickly. Then, I plan to switch my diet to low-carb for life (the ketogenic diet). The Ketogenic Diet keeps the body in a state of ketosis whereby the body burns fat rather than glucose for energy. Typically, this diet recommends a 65/30/5 approach (65% fat, 30% protein, and 5% carbs). According to Lilja, ketosis is the fat-burning process that helps you lose excess weight. She writes, "When the muscle tissue has depleted all the glycogen stored (when you stop eating carbs), the human body releases ketones. This state is referred to as ketosis" (para. 2). 

The Ketogenic diet calls for less than 30g of carbohydrates per day. This is key to successful induction to ketosis. The plan, though, relies on a heavy intake of fat, and for many, that idea goes against everything they have heard (medically, scientifically) growing up. Fat is bad, fat will clog your arteries, etc. The problem is that fat comes in varieties, and the bad fat, the kind we consume readily, is the kind that does cause all sorts of health issues from obesity to heart disease. The good fat, though, is the stuff that our body loves and needs. Good fats are found in olive oil, butter, cheese, cream and mayonnaise, but also nuts, avocados, etc. 

Lilja gives an example of a typical low-carb day on her blog. She has recipes as well as menu plans and other products you can purchase from her online store. Here is a snippet of a daily meal:
  • Breakfast: omelette (eggs, cheese, heavy whipping cream and spices for flavor) Avocado on the side.
  • Lunch: cheeseburger without the bun, prepared from ground beef, bacon, cheddar cheese, an egg and mozzarella cheese. Wrap it in lettuce to replace the bun.
  • Dinner: Steak, broccoli, salad and a cream sauce.
  • Snacks: peanut butter, pork rinds, deli meat, cheese, boiled eggs etc.
Interestingly, this is really close to what I am eating now, though I usually have a salad for lunch.

I am considering vegan, simply because I really do not like meat. I mean, I eat it occasionally, but I don't care for it. I don't crave meat. I do love carbs, and well, that is what has gotten me into problems before. I need to restrict my carb intake, and switch to vegetables for my main source of nutrition. I am struggling to do this, but I think it is because I am not thinking clearly or cleanly. I need to think about what foods will give me the most boost each day and what foods will fill me up. I need to satisfy my hunger, and I know consuming more fat will do it.

I think I need to do some more research on this topic. Once I have a better handle on what I need to do, I will post here. Until then, I will stick with Atkins and then slowly switch over to a low-carb approach that is organic, natural, and based on whole food choices. I think I can do this, I really do. Selah!


In Closing

As I close out this blog post, I realize that the changes I am making in my life will have significant impact on my future well-being. If I want to live a healthy lifestyle, I have to start now. I have to switch what I eat daily, change my attitude toward fitness, and generally adapt to a way of life that promotes vitality and longevity. I cannot continue to consume heavily processed foods and expect to feel well. I cannot choose foods that sabotage my internal systems and believe that I will not suffer consequences. No, I have to choose to eat the foods God created, in the way He created them, and that means to choose foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. My hope and my prayer is to find the "right" balance so that I can live a happy, healthier, and whole life well into my 80s-90s. May the Lord be pleased, and may I eat the foods He provides to me this good, good day. He is good to me, all the time. All the time, He is so very good! Selah!

___________________

References

Low Carb Food List. (2011). The keto flu: symptoms and relief. Retrieved from elowcarbfoodlist.org/the-keto-flu-symptoms-and-relief/

No comments: