Hello…It’s Me…

It has been quite a while. A 10 month old baby boy, promotion at work, new house while to be exact.

Carbs and I have been on again off again, but back together in full force for the holiday season. They just know all the right things to say this time of year to be irresistible, don’t they?

There was such a long time that went by waiting and hoping for a baby which seemed impossible with PCOS, but after working with a great doctor, maintaining my carb break up pretty consistently, and one successful round of IUI, we found ourselves pregnant with a baby boy.

The pregnancy – not easy. The delivery – emergency c-section. So difficult in fact, I didn’t even know how to articulate it in writing to you for the longest time. But it was all worth it to have my amazing baby boy.

The holidays seem to make you reflect and the New Year seems to make you resolve, so here I am saying there is some news to come in 2019 and I plan to be a lot more open as well as honest in covering some of my experiences like:

    PCOS and infertility
    Pregnancy and pre-diabetes
    Being a working mom

All of these while maintaining a breakup with carbs and celebrating a happy, healthy life. Wishing you and your family the same, now and always.

Now please excuse me while I run to Del Taco.

#MyCarbBreakup Recipe: Baked Cheese Chips

Since breaking up with carbs, I have really missed chips and crackers. I prefer salty over sweet, and love a good crunch. I have mentioned before that cheese has been my saving grace to get me through my breakup…and cheese comes to the rescue again with this delicious, easy, low carb snack.

Pinterest is amazing and my saving grace. This (and likely all the recipes I share) will be brough to you by Pinterest.

In the original recipe, she shreds the cheese and adds seasonings. You can go all out and shred the cheese if you so choose, but I am all about simplifying, so I just took the cheese and sliced it into small circles.

Here is what you will need:

  • Cheese of your choice. This time I used mild cheddar
  • Parchment paper-must be parchment
  • Baking sheet
  • Paper towel
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven is doing its thang, cut up your cheese. 
  2. Lay the parchment paper on the baking sheet and place the cheese on the parchment paper. Don’t over crowd them, they will spread out.
  3. Bake until bubbly and brown, about 10 minutes. Once you take them out of the oven, place the crispy cheese on paper towel and blot with another piece of paper towel. You don’t realize how greasy cheese is until you cook or bake with it.

You can dip these in sour cream mixed with your favorite salsa!

Here is where I found this recipe:

Progress Check-In: Eating late and weight gain

It has been my routine to weigh myself every Thursday, first thing in the morning, to check on my progress. As I continue down my journey of fighting Insulin Resistance and PCOS, I hope to document my progress every Thursday along with tips that can hopefully help you as you journey toward a healthier, happier you.

Before I jump into the specific progress of this week, I think it is worth capturing the progress I have already made. When I was first diagnosed with Insulin Resistance and PCOS, I was overweight and my testosterone levels were at about 90 (an average woman is about 40 and below). Since being on a low carb diet and taking medications prescribed by my Endocriologist, I am down 9 pounds and my testosterone levels went from 90 to 40 in one month. To keep this momentum, I have been working on the following goals:

  • Stay under 110g of carbs per day
  • Consistently take my medication (post coming soon on medication I am taking)
  • 20 minutes of exercise per day

We all know the holidays are a time for joy, love, family, and…weight gain. I was on a great path before the holidays of being down 12 pounds, but alas. All that egg nog and holiday cider caught up with me.

I have been on a great path this past week, but I am sad to say I was up 2 pounds since my weigh in last Thursday. Here are the successes and challenges of the past week that I believe could have led to this weight gain:

  • Got back to exercising for the first time in MONTHS. I committed to begin exercising yesterday and continued momentum this morning with another workout!
  • Cut out alcohol during the week. Trust me, this is a BIG success because nothing makes me happier than a glass of wine after a good day. Or a hard day. Or any day.
  • Stayed low carb for virtually every meal. That includes saying no to some delicious and free office treats

  • Continue the momentum of this week’s workout success and work to meet my goal of 20 minutes of exercise…every day. For next week, I will aim for 4 out of the 7 days. If 7 happens, then AWESOME…but in my experience, going from 0 to 60 is not very maintainable
  • Last night was an especially late night, so I did not eat until after 9pm. I think this is a BIG reason I was not down this morning’s weigh in.

Since eating late from time to time is a reality for most of us busy people, here is some info I found on weight gain and eating late to help keep me motivated that I am moving in the right direction.

Eating late and weight gain:

The truth is…

“A calorie is a calorie,” says Mass. “If your total calorie intake for the day is greater than what you are burning, this can lead to weight gain regardless of what time it is.” But if you eat healthy, regular meals throughout the day and typically have dinner around 8 p.m., there’s no reason to stress.

Problem is, research suggests that many women take in nearly half of their daily calories at—or even after—dinner. One study found that a third of people consume 15 percent of their calories after 11pm.

What’s more, binging close to bedtime can increase your blood sugar levels for a full 24 hours, according to one study in Obesity of Research & Clinical Practice. Meanwhile, research in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicineshows that noshing on high-calorie, high-fat snacks at night can make for restless sleep. The result: Overeating the next day in a feeble attempt to boost your energy levels, says Mass.

There’s nothing wrong with eating a light, healthy snack after dinner as long as you plan for it as part of your daily calories. To keep from overeating, pay attention to your food while eating, avoid eating in front of the TV, and choose a portion-controlled snack.

When you’re trying to lose weight, eat regular meals and consume 90% of your calories before 8 p.m.  The benefit of eating meals every three to four hours is it helps regulate your blood sugar, and thus control hunger and cravings. That should leave you about 150 to 200 calories to play with for a late-night (and guilt-free!) snack.

What this means for me: Hopefully, late night eating will be prevented as I learn more about my new job AND find a way to balance the blog with work. I will NOT get discouraged about my weight today and will keep on keeping on.

Here are some great resources on eating late and weight gain I referred to in this article:

Morning workout: 1, Snooze button: 0 = FITNESS SUCCESS

It happened. It really happened. THE SNOOZE BUTTON GOT SCHOOLED BY A MORNING WORKOUT! I appreciate all the support and accountability you all have given me…it honestly is making me a healthier, happier person.

Since my Endocrinologist only prescribes 20 minutes of exercise a day to get started, I bought myself an awesome stepper:

Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper with Handle Bar
by Sunny Health & Fitness
Link: http://amzn.com/B001IDZHF6

  • Twist stepper workout machine with handlebar and multi-function LCD computer
  • Twist action works and tones your bum and leg muscles with reduced bone/joint pressure (good for me because sore joints are a side effect I endure from Insulin Resistance and PCOS)
  • Computer functions include: time, calories, scan, and count
  • Adjustable stepping height; handle bar for balance
  • Very small footprint and lightweight making it easy to store

It was a great start and I am feeling very accomplished! Today was a great day at work…I think it has a lot to do with a great start to the morning! I will admit, now that we are into the evening I am EXHAUSTED. Even right after the workout, my pups tried to lure me back to bed as you can see from this photo…but I was strong:

Cute pups trying to lure me back to bed

Here are some of the tips I tried that worked great for me:

Laying out my clothes the night before 

By doing this, I really was mentally prepared for the harsh reality of the alarm. It also made getting ready much, much easier.

Making my bed right away

It isn’t quite as easy to go back to bed if it is made!

A burst of sunlight

The morning hours really are beautiful. By opening up the blinds, the sunshine really woke me up in a lovely way…I felt like I was getting a great head start to the day.

Coffee!

This was ready to go thanks to Keurig almost instantly after I was up. I will admit that I had to up the coffee intake today, but it was nice to start the morning with that jolt of java.

Now let’s see if I can make this work again tomorrow…

Insulin Resistance Diet: 110g of Carbs a Day

If you are like me, you have tried multiple diets from some carbs, to all carbs, to absolutely zero carbs. It seems that most diets are hard to maintain and really vary in results. It can be so frustrating to work hard and long for a change in your body, especially as you watch most of the men in your life scarf down an entire pizza or 10 chicken soft tacos for dinner while you are eating what they affectionately call, “rabbit food.”

I have come to learn that dieting is a reality for almost every woman I know. It is fascinating how different everyone’s bodies react to food and even more interesting as I learn more about how my body reacts to carbohydrates.

Diets and I have never been the best of friends. I struggle with the self control, especially during celebrations, weekends, stress, work trips, restaurants…you get the picture. I am happy to say that the diet discussed with my Endocrinologist really has been significantly more manageable than anything else I have tried in the past.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Dietitian or Doctor, but I am someone who has spent a significant amount of time wondering why I could not lose weight and am now happily to report I have found an attainable approach.

Here are my rules of the road for food when it comes to food while battling Insulin Resistance and PCOS:

Stick to 110g of carbs every possible day

Let’s be real…not every day can be perfect and slip ups certainly happen (I have no idea how those chips and guacamole ended up in my mouth last night.) However, it is important to try to stick to 110g of carbs (this is ALL carbs including veggies) whenever I possibly can.

My Endocrinologist broke up the 110g of carbs like this for me: 30g of carbs per meal and 20g of carbs for snacks.

This can be tricky, but with the right tools, it really is quite manageable. Here is the app I use to get a ballpark amount of carbs in each thing I eat:

Whether you want to lose weight, manage your diabetes or improve your health; there are no quick fixes and fad diets don’t work. It’s your everyday food choices that count. That’s where there reliable and convenient guides come in.

To make the smart food choices that lead to permanent weight control, you must become aware of what you eat on a day-to-day basis. The CalorieKing Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter is the most accurate resource for calorie, fat & carbohydrate counts.

Take it everywhere; look up foods before you eat, when eating choices count the most! With over 15 million copies sold, this pocketsize guide consistently receives the highest average reader rating of all books of its kind and is recommended by health care professionals.

If you are like me and love your apps, you can download the app for free!

The app icon looks like this:

The user interface looks like this:

These are some of the great features:

  • Calorie and carb counts for 70,000+ foods
  • Most accurate and up-to-date database
  • Includes 260 fast food chains and restaurants
  • Great for people with diabetes tracking carb intake

Over time, you will find that you can remember how many carbs are in some of your favorite foods. You will get very good at counting the carbs in your head and making the right choices accordingly. This may seem tedious, but you will find that it gets easier over time and that there still are many delicious foods with no carbs.

Enjoy the carb free/low carb foods 

Comparing this low carb diet to other diets I have tried in the past, I have found myself enjoying foods that were restricted before and that my friends on low calorie diet cannot eat. Remember, for people with Insulin Resistance, it is more about carb monitoring than calorie monitoring.

Protein

All naturally-occurring meats contain no carbohydrates; however, pre-packaged and deli meats are often processed with a sugar and salt solution or seasoning blends, conferring carbohydrates to the meats. Processed and cured meats, such as sausage, ham, bacon, and frankfurters regularly contain small amounts of carbohydrates. Reading package labels is essential to learn if pre-packaged products contain carbohydrates. In their natural state, the following contain zero carbs:

  • Beef
  • Veal
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish (such as salmon, trout, and halibut)
  • Duck
  • Goose
  • Fish
  • Shellfish (such as crab, shrimp, and lobster)
  • Mollusks (such as oysters, mussels, and clams)
  • Game meats (such as venison and elk)
  • Exotic meats (such as ostrich and emu)
  • Eggs

Condiments, Seasoning, and Oils

Most condiments contain carbohydrates. Likewise, salad dressings and mayonnaise often contain some carbs because they are made with vinegar and may contain herbs. The following oils and condiments do not:

  • Salt
  • Vegetable, nut, and fruit oils such as avocado, grapeseed, safflower, canola, and olive oil
  • Animal fats like fish oil and lard
  • Some brands of margarine and shortening – read package labels

Sugar Substitutes

Aspartame, sucralose, stevia, and saccharine are all advertised as low-carb alternatives to sugar. Because they are so highly sweet, it only takes a little of a sugar substitute to go a long way. While these are likely to contain trace amounts of carbohydrates, you can effectively consider them no-carbohydrate foods; however, sweeteners may affect insulin in the same way sugar does, so proceed with caution. Additionally, sweeteners in granular form may contain carbohydrate-containing fillers.

Beverages

Many beverages contain zero carbohydrates; however, if they are sweetened with artificial sweetener, they may have some of the same caveats as listed above. Along with diet soda, Crystal Light, and other sweetened beverages, water, coffee, tea, and distilled alcohol contain zero carbohydrates. Use alcohol with caution, however, because your body prioritizes the alcohol first. This means that you burn alcohol before utilizing other fuel, including fat.

Don’t completely cut out carbs

Although reducing your carb consumption — when coupled with an increased protein intake — can help you control your overall calorie intake for weight loss and healthy weight management, your body does need carbohydrates on a daily basis to function properly. Consuming too few carbs can lead to nausea, headaches, dizziness, constipation, weakness and fatigue.

How carbs impact the body:

It is interesting to think abut carbs and how they play into the body.

You can appreciate this a lot more when you realize that there are eight essential amino acids and eight essential fatty acids required for life. These same nutrients are used all over the body for normal and constant metabolic processes such as repair of hair, skin, bone, muscle, red blood cells. Fat is used for energy purposes, protein only in ketosis.

Compare this to carbs, which have a very limited role around the body, in fact it’s only the brain that needs carbohydrates as a fuel source, most cellular processes are happy using fat. That’s one of the reasons why we are designed to carry so much of it around with us.

Carbs do provide us with fiber and minuscule but essential amounts of vitamins and minerals which are very difficult to store (unless they’re fat soluble), and if they’re not used at that time, they are passed through the body very quickly.

This means the main role of carbs is to top up the liver and muscles which are not as big a store as some people would realize. A closer look at the anatomy of a person reveals that the human liver can hold approx 80-100g of carbohydrates and the muscles can only hold 1-2% of carbs by volume, known as glycogen.

Be patient with yourself

Any change in your lifestyle takes time. Be patient with yourself and keep exploring trial & error as you navigate a diet that is best with you. With some patience and discipline, you will be on your way to a healthier you before you know it!

Here are some of the great resources that informed this post:

Weekend food: Survival food guide from someone with Insulin Resistance #MyCarbBreakup

The weekend is here. We wait all week long thinking it will never come around, then just when we think we can’t handle one more work request, homework assignment, or water cooler small talk topic…the weekend comes and saves us like an angel coming down from heaven scooping us up into complete bliss.

For most, the weekend is a time for rest, relaxation, and FOOD. I don’t know about you, but the weekends are the hardest time for me to be mindful of my Insulin Resistance. Whether is out to a restaurant, at a bar, or at a friend’s house it seems that there is more temptation than we typically experience during the week. Everyone else is having a “cheat” meal, so why can’t we? I know I have fallen into that mentality many, many times.

It is easy to know what you should and shouldn’t eat for a low carb diet, but it is certainly a lot harder when you are staring right at those chicken tenders and fries that are being offered to you by that friend we all have that never seems to look overweight…no matter what they eat.

I am certainly not a doctor and I know that everyone’s body handles foods very differently. I am however a woman with Insulin Resistance that knows my body handles food very uniquely and that when I must cut carbs, I can still enjoy certain foods that my friends on low calorie diets cannot.

My amazing Endocrinologist has put me on a limit of 110g of carbs a day…that includes ALL carbs, even veggies. These doctor’s orders don’t care that it’s the weekend, so here are some of my favorite indulgences over the weekend. By no means do these replace the taste of a baked potato, chicken tenders, rice pilaf, and virtually everything at Del Taco…but they do help when I know all those previously mentioned carbs and I have to breakup.

Foods:

1. Cheese. Cheese. Cheese.

This has honestly been my go to snack and something that has really gotten me through a low carb lifestyle because MOST CHEESES HAVE NO CARBS. That’s right none. When it comes to counting carbs, this is one of those amazing foods that are so satisfying and leave your daily carb count preserved for other foods.

My personal snack favorites are the lowfat Mozarella cheese sticks – they are easy to grab on the go (honestly, they are my breakfast most days) and pretty fun to eat. I am more of a salty fan over sweet, so all kinds of cheese really are my favorite thing.

This is also one of those foods I was limited to on past low calorie diets, so it almost feels like I am cheating my otherwise good diet behavior. Of course, be mindful of saturated fat…but remember for Insulin Resistance, it is about limiting carbs and not calories.

Cheese contains a host of nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12. For more info on health benefits of cheese, check out this article: http://www.healthyeating.org/Milk-Dairy/Nutrients-in-Milk-Cheese-Yogurt/Nutrients-in-Cheese.aspx 
2. Caesar or wedge salads
In a lot of situations, full fat dressings have less carbs than fat free dressings. To me, a crispy salad drenched in dressing like blue cheese, ranch, or Caesar is surprisingly satisfying. The other good news about these is they are always easy to find on menus, especially bars. The croutons that often come with these are my little treat…you will find as you embrace low carb your stomach will start hurting when you eat carbs, so small amounts of croutons like these really hit the spot in just the right amount.
The fats in most salad dressings are typically vegetable oils, so-called “good fats” that help lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Having some fat in the salad dressing helps you make the most of the nutrients in the salad greens and other veggies. Carotenoids like lutein, lycopene, beta carotene and zeaxanthin require a little fat for absorption. These fat-soluble compounds are not only fun to say, but are also associated with reduced risk of heart disease, macular degeneration and even some cancers.And while the calories may be lower in many low-fat dressings, the missing fat is usually replaced with added sugars and starches, fake flavors and color enhancers.
Translation = get yourself some delicious salad dressing, add something tasty like shrimp, and you will be enjoying a lower carb treat.
3. Bacon!
Nitrate-free bacon has healthy fat, the perfect amount of protein and minimal carbs. I am not a huge pork eater, so my personal favorite is turkey bacon. Bacon really is something most people love and can help spice up those brunches with friends.Bacon also has some great health benefits! Several university and medical center studies have shown that including bacon as a regular, moderate part of one’s diet naturally works to lower the body’s blood pressure and blood sugar levels, helping to prevent and/or alleviate the effects of diabetes, as well as heart disease, stroke and heart attack. You can read more here: http://bacontoday.com/top-10-reasons-bacon-is-actually-healthy-for-you/
4. Sweet potato fries
Let’s be honest…fries are so awesome. Since french fries from white potatoes are one of my biggest tempters to get back together with carbs, I thought it was worth mentioning why exactly white potatoes really are like poison for someone with Insulin Resistance or PCOS. Potatoes are fat free, but they are also starchy carbohydrates with little protein.
According to Harvard, the carbs in potatoes are the kind that the body digests rapidly and have a high glycemic load. That is, they cause blood sugar and insulin to surge and then dip. This effect can make people feel hungry again soon after eating, which may lead to overeating. The rapid rise in blood sugar can also lead to increased insulin production. Jarzabkowski said, “The last thing I’d recommend to a diabetic is a potato.” Well my friends, I am struggling to find a way to argue with Harvard.
That being said, I know I am a human that can crave fries. When those moments strike, I find that several places now offer sweet potato fries. Of course, I do not love them as much as white potato fries, but a lot of places make sweet potato fries pretty tasty.
There are also some great health benefits of sweet potato fries! One health benefit of sweet potato french fries is the fries’ fiber content. Dietary fiber improves your cardiovascular health, helping prevent high cholesterol that increases your risk of heart disease. It also helps stabilize your blood sugar after a meal, preventing a blood sugar spike that leaves you hungry again shortly after eating.Check out more on sweet potato fries here: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-sweet-potato-french-fries-2837.html
5. Dark chocolate
Yes, chocolate can be possible on a low carb diet! I should just drop the mic now.When it comes to chocolate, darker is usually healthier. Choose dark chocolate made from at least 70% cocoa solids or a low sugar white chocolate.How to choose your chocolate? Carefully check the wrapper and choose dark chocolate that hasn’t come in contact with any gluten-containing grains. Select chocolate produced organically by people working under fair conditions. Choose low carb chocolate by checking the nutrition information on the label for “net carbs.” And then…chocolate time.
6. Vodka soda with lime

Here is another great thing to enjoy on the weekend with NO CARBS. That’s right…none. There are of course many reasons why you should not over indulge in alcohol (including drunk dialing carbs), so be careful! When you are ready to enjoy a beverage, it is great to know that this is (like many other hard alcohols mixed with soda) your best bet. On days I am feeling extra sassy, I will do a splash of cranberry juice to spice it up. Just be careful when you order this…I have noticed most bartenders are pretty heavy handed with their cranberry pours.

My other go to beverage is red wine. Cabernet is one of the lower carb wines typically coming in at about 5g of carbs per glass. This can definitely add up, but I will admit I do really love a great glass of wine.

Here is a great article on alcohol on a low carb diet: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/alcbev.htm

Here are some other great ideas for low carb beverages:

Here are some of the awesome resources that helped inform this article:

What are some of your favorite low carb weekend treats? Share them in the comments!