1/27/15

My Keto Life

 Disclosure: I am not a doctor so take this post with a grain of salt. All of this information is from what I've found through my own research (I've linked it all) or through my own experience. This diet is not a miracle cure for anything and like all other lifestyle changes, you should check with your doctor to make sure it's okay to make the switch.

I haven't eaten bread since last year. No, really. It was some time in late December of 2014. I gave it up for good along with all of my sweet cravings, gluten, soy, and a myriad of other food staples. After guidance from my dad and reading Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter, I decided that I needed to make a change for my mental health. Enter: The Ketogenic Diet.

Ketosis is the state in which you burn fat for fuel. Think "Atkins" meets this trendy new "Whole30." High fat, extremely low carbohydrate. I know that becoming an "ex-vegan" will get me a lot of backlash from the vegan community but the truth is, despite being a very healthy vegan, after almost three years of it, that diet wasn't doing much to nourish me. All of the health problems that it had helped to eviscerate in the beginning came back with a vengeance. I was packing on weight, my moods were rapidly cycling worse than ever before, I had absolutely no energy, and not to be "TMI," but my menstrual cycles were all over the place. I'm not one to take medication unless it's an absolute necessity so I decided that my first step would be to take a look at my diet and see if there was anything that I could change. With research, it turns out that omega-3's play a vital role in brain function. In addition, carbs may be damaging to our brains. Doctors think that Alzheimer's may even be a form of diabetes. Enough of that scientific jargon though. I'm here to tell you about my (mostly) positive experiences in my first month of Keto.



THE PROCESS: 
I did what I would advise nobody else to ever do: I started a new "diet" (although I prefer to call it a "lifestyle change") right before going on vacation. To Disney. A week before Christmas. Do you see my multiple blunders there? Luckily, however, my mom and dad decided to start around the same time. On vacation, we were an unbreakable support system. Keto breakfasts are easy: eggs, veggies, meat. We had a lot of omelets and black coffee. Snacks were also pretty simple: raw almonds, pickles, or a square of 85% dark chocolate. For lunch we usually had some sort of salad, and for dinner, meat with veggies. Not hard, right? In hindsight it wasn't too difficult but in the moment, I had endless cravings for bread and sweets, which are all very "in your face" at Disney. All I wanted was a Mickey ice cream on a stick. I proudly didn't fall to temptation, but if you're not a strong-willed person, you may have had a different outcome. It seemed too easy, almost.  Yes, too easy.

After a couple weeks of smooth sailing, the insomnia and insane anxiety started. I would be tired all day (also known as keto flu) and then I would lay awake in bed until 3AM, sometimes as late as 6AM. Not enjoyable. After more research, I learned that the energy that you get from ketones, for some, may be too much energy. Luckily, the intense insomnia only lasted for about a week and a half. That is partially due to vitamins (more on that later) and my body adjusting. In addition to having to adjust to my sleep patterns, it also took my body some time to get used to things like my riding my bike around the city. Usually, we burn carbs for that sort of exercise. I found myself getting winded easily and it turns out that it can take the body 8-12 weeks to get used to exercise while in ketosis. It's a lot to take into account, I know!

As for weight loss, I lost 5-7 pounds in the first two weeks. I haven't weighed myself since then but I have noticed my pants getting loose on me and I've had to punch some new notches in my belts whereas I used to wear them on the first notch. Not bad, right? For me though, this diet isn't to lose weight, it's more so about my mental health. I can say that after the initial shock of such an insane change, my mind has leveled and in addition to more energy, I've had a lot less of rapid-cycling. There are still definite peaks and valleys but there is more time between them and they're not as dramatic as they've historically been. That's good enough for me.

Top left: Two eggs over hard, broccolini, uncured duck bacon, goat cheese and Greek yogurt with raw almond slivers, one strawberry, and shaved dark chocolate with black coffee. Top right: Two eggs poured over sautéed garlic, onion, and ground turkey topped with pico de gallo, cilantro, shredded Swiss & Gruyere, and avocado. Bottom left: Ground turkey tacos on lettuce wraps with homemade guacamole, goat cheese, and Brussels Sprouts sautéed in bacon grease. Bottom right: Pan-seared salmon over broccolini sautéed with garlic and raw almond slivers with red wine.

WHAT CAN I EAT?
Eat fish, meat, poultry, and veggies and try to keep your net carbs less than 20g a day. I know, that seems like not a lot at all but there are plenty of ways to eat your fill without overdoing it with the carbs. I always have plenty of eggs, avocado, salmon, ground turkey, and green veggies in my kitchen. Try to stick to meats, poultry, and fish that is either grass-fed or wild-caught. Be mindful of where your food is coming from. A grass-fed cow has a completely different makeup than one that's been fed questionably-sourced grains. As far as vegetables go, anything from above ground is good. (Sorry, potato lovers.) If it's green, it's probably good. Fruits are a no-go. (Except for berries, which I'll talk about later.) If you're going to eat nuts, almonds and walnuts are the best. Peanuts are actually a legume, which makes them a no-go. (Hello, almond butter.) As you can see from the photos above, meals don't have to be boring. Start with some olive oil and garlic in a pan and go crazy.



VITAMINS & SUPPLEMENTS:
Even if you're not going to be embracing the #keto life, vitamins may be a worthwhile investment for you because it's not easy to get the recommended dose all in one day. Remember how I said that I was having a problem getting to sleep? A large increase in protein brought along a large increase in amino acids. They made it more difficult for serotonin's precursor, tryptophan, to cross the blood-brain barrier. Basically, without some sort of help, my body didn't have the right chemistry to help me fall asleep. As I've gotten used to the diet, the insomnia has sort of gone away on its own but not without the help of some daily vitamins. (And the occasional melatonin at night.) Every day, I take the recommended doses of Calcium + Magnesium + Vitamin D (Magnesium is extremely helpful with sleeplessness!), Biotin, High-Potency Antioxidant, Maca (for those "lady issues" I mentioned earlier), and St. John's Wort. (A natural mood-stabilizer.)

BUT I'VE GOT A SWEET TOOTH!
Don't we all have that insatiable sweet tooth? I certainly do. The only sugar I will allow myself to have is Stevia. That pretty much cuts out everything I love. Luckily, there are low-carb alternatives to the tiramisu that I desire every night around 8:00. For one, dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher) is a great low-carb sweet. A dash of whipped cream (the full-fat kind) is also a great every-once-in-a-while treat. Although fruit is generally a no-go, berries are acceptable in small doses. Blackberries are best but strawberries and raspberries aren't terrible either. Red wine may not be "sweet" but it may take care of the craving. Ever since going low-carb, I've been craving seltzer like MAD. When the seltzer doesn't get it done, Zevia is a miracle beverage. It's sweetened with Stevia and the aftertaste reminds me of the Diet Cokes I used to adore. The best part? You don't have to give up your beloved Starbucks. Like I said earlier, black coffee is okay. However, sometimes, you want a little something extra. Starbucks carries heavy cream and they can make you a Flat White with it. YUM! A lot of smaller coffee shops may not have heavy cream but it's certainly worth checking. I do all the time. You'll get used to the confused looks after a while. 

I wasn't planning on this post being so long but there's a LOT to say about this new lifestyle of mine. I'm still figuring it all out but I feel great and I'm going to keep it up for as long as I do. Would you guys be interested in me sharing some of my keto-friendly, low-carb recipes? They're nothing fancy but they're healthy and often times quick and easy to make. As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to start conversation or debate in the comments below. 

xo,
e.m.

1/26/15

Can't Go Wrong with Pink

It may seem impractical to wear ankle grazers and loafers out in the snow but I think I may just be immune to the cold at this point. It doesn't bother me at all.

xo,
e.m.

coat/ ASOS (on sale!), flannel/ H&M, sweater/ GAP (also on sale!), jeans/ Zara, shoes/ ASOS, bag/ Zara, sunglasses/ Prada (these were incredibly difficult to track down because they're from a few seasons ago but there are a few left here!)

1/20/15

Winter Earth Tones

It's been kinda warm for January here in Philly. I've been dressing in layers so I can add/subtract clothing when necessary. More so, strategically planned layers can conceal the extra winter weight. It's a win, win.

xo,
e.m. 

sweatshirt/ Dimepiece (similar), denim top/ ℅ Joules, skirt/ American Apparel, duster/ ASOS, boots/ H&M, bag/ thrifted, necklace/ H&M, hat/ Urban Outfitters (on sale!)

**photos by Amberlee of Photo Obsessed. Photobomb by her adorable daughter. 

1/19/15

Lazy Weekend

Contrary to what you may see in the blogosphere, looking "OMG SUPER CUTE!" every day is just another unrealistic expectation. Sometimes I think that bloggers don full makeup and get manicures just to pose with macarons for Instagram. Not so much here, especially on Saturdays. Saturdays are the day I get done work at 8AM,  (yes, eight in the morning) take a little nap, toss my hair up in a half bun, put on some mascara at the most, and Seinfeld my way around Philly with my BFFs. Yes, we "Seinfeld" our way around. This is the term that I use for when we go to a coffee shop, order the same thing we always order, and make comedic observations about the people around us. It's a really good way to spend time. On this particular day, Danielle, Brenden, and I went to La Columbe. Despite getting a lot of judge'y looks from various onlookers (all of which were the kind of people who wear unnecessary slouchy beanies indoors and listened to a band "before they were cool.") when I pulled out my camera, it's one of my favorite coffee shops. I'll risk being viewed as a tourist to write about it for you guys someday. 

xo
e.m.

p.s. What do you guys think about the way I've been trying to splice "fashion" posts with "lifestyle" posts? Just trying something new for 2015, a.k.a. "The Year of Being Real." (Which is a phrase coined by the boys at Overnight Drive.)

1/14/15

He & She

We're happy. Very happy.

xo,
e.m.

blazer/ ASOS, jeans/ American Eagle, shirt/ Need Supply Co., shoes/ ASOS (similar), necklace/ Anthropologie, bag/ thrifted, watch/ Michael Kors