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Keto- Get into Ketosis Quickly

Ketosis is the state that you are trying to achieve with a keto diet.

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keto strips
Go on, test your pee!

 

In my experience I can get into a ketogenic state quickly by drinking my morning coffee blended with butter and MCT oil, followed by taking a long walk, drinking lots of water during and after, and then followed by eating a fat-heavy breakfast like eggs, bacon and avocado. This usually sets the pace for the day and gets me back on track with keto. I’m not hungry for several hours after that, but then will have a meal with some kind of salad loaded with some protein and fat again. I have learned to cut back on protein though because that was a pitfall in the past. I try and remember that a serving of protein looks like the size of a deck of card; so, smaller than your hand.

Ketosis is the state that you are trying to achieve with a keto diet. You want your body using fat as fuel basically and slimming down your body and improving your cognitive functions. Several factors can kick you out of that state so it’s best to monitor in the beginning with the keto test strips or blood testing if you’re super into exact measurements.

I test my pee to see if I am there yet, and then I watch it to see if certain carbs or drinks kick me out of it. It’s a nice way to obsess over your progress in the beginning. I have noticed that large diet drinks, some dishes with beans or even too much protein will slow my progress. On the other hand I have noticed that once I am in ketosis I can maintain it even when having dark chocolates, certain ice cream and some diet drinks. So it’s a trial and error process that you really need to learn for yourself.

I think it goes without saying that I am not a doctor and I don’t know the exact science behind why it all works, however I know that it makes me feel better. I have lost weight and I am never really hungry unless I am intentionally fasting for a planned period of time.

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How to Start Exploring for Free

Chestnut-Ridge1

#1 Just start exploring things that are free 🙂

I took a walk/jog here at Chestnut Ridge for the first time a few weeks ago. The park is just 13 minutes from my house, but until then was completely unknown to me. Sometimes things are right there waiting for you when you begin to open your eyes and see the beauty of the world. I dream of traveling the world as I  follow Instagram travelers to see places I have never been, but hope to go to one day. But I can’t sit around making excuses for what I am not seeing right here around me. This day was a perfect example of the hidden gems that are nestled within my reach.

I can get so caught up in things I can’t do or what I can’t afford right now that it becomes a pattern of self-pity and makes me feel defeated. But when I turn that down a little and see what I do have and what is possible right now, I get excited. I picked up a book of all the metro parks in the area and I looked through. Some parks I have been to thousands of times and I still love them, but there are more to discover, more paths to walk and more trails to explore. So, I decided that I am going to see the world and I am going to begin right here in little, but beautiful Ohio and see what all I can see. I am going to work my way out from the center of my world and see how far I can go. What right have I do be upset about not seeing the other side of the world, when I haven’t seen everything in the place I am so privileged to have been born?

We imprison ourselves with thought patterns at times and feel trapped by circumstance. It’s easy to envy others, feel jealous of what seems like easy freedom and fortune. But once we observe our thoughts and see the pitfalls of that thinking pattern that can bring us down, we can start to avoid those mental traps and quicksand moments that tend to pull us down so quickly. No, I am not a victim and I won’t hang out with that mentality. That sort of thinking is a very tangled web, a labyrinth and a trap. I have to catch myself when I go to that place, turn around and find my way out as quickly as possible. It’s not always easy. I wake up at 5 with a zest for life and end up in the dark dungeon of depression by 2. But I find my way back over and over. I think it gets easier to climb out of that abyss as I learn the way and see the steps, the rope, and the worn down trails I have left from last time. It gets easier.

The map to your inner maze is freely available, the key is in your hand and the walls are ready to come down. So, take a deep breath and begin again. Below is a picture I took that same day. I was so full of gratitude for having found this place and there it was practically in my own backyard all along.

panorama
Panorama shot with my phone. Chestnut Ridge -Carol, Ohio

Almond Flour Basics for Keto

If you master this basic dough, then you can make endless snacks and meals from it with little to no thought or stress.

Here’s my advice with almond flour: get some and use it sparingly. I like to make small amounts to really test recipes and control my portions. If you follow a recipe just cut the measurement in half or more the first time; this helps to experiment with the flavors before making a large batch of something you might end up hating. I learned this the hard way of course, but let me save you the trouble. My style is not for everyone, but I think the more comfortable you are in the kitchen experimenting with food, the more successful you will be staying on the diet. You can call it a lifestyle style if that makes you feel better, but a diet is the food you eat so it doesn’t have to be negative.

So, keep it simple and relax. Pay attention to your portions and don’t make almond flour creations the base of every meal or you might slow your weight loss progress. Almonds are good, but they are calorie dense and easily add up after being ground into powder, which is a another reason to decrease the portion size if you’re trying to lose weight.

Basic Almond Flour Dessert– figure out your preferred combination of ingredients and then you can add any keto friendly toppings later. I suggest mastering the base.

Mix some flour in a mug or small bowl with cocoa powder, stevia, vanilla, egg, baking powder( just a pinch),..maybe some salt or cinnamon if you like those flavors. Microwave it for about a minute and half maybe less, eat it and see if you like it. I don’t like to measure stuff because if the process is super involved I am much less likely to repeat it or be able to do it fast when I really want something sweet right away. So less is more here, I start with a big spoonful of the almond flour and another big spoonful of cocoa and then add a pinch of this and that and see how it goes. You will taste it and know if you have enough vanilla or if you want it sweeter. You can add a sprinkle of stevia on top if you think it’s not sweet enough. Or I have added whip cream, peanut butter or even butter to make it more appealing. It’s just a few bites but it’s so dense and decadent that you’ll be surprised at how filling and rewarding these little desserts can really become.

Almond Flour Pancake- another basic that can be a base for several toppings once you have the basic batter how you like it. Just try it.

I again use a small bowl or measuring cup to keep down on the overall portion. Anyways, shake some flour in, add a milk of some kind, or better a heavy cream, egg, vanilla, cinnamon, and stevia then mix to your desired thickness and heat a skillet, melt butter, fry your pancake. I top it with butter, sugar free syrup, or an over-easy egg and a slice of bacon. This is my lazy weekend breakfast. It’s one pancake and it’s heavenly. But something to remember is that it’s one, not a batch. If you make a batch then you might eat the whole batch. It’s unlikely you’ll start over and make another one after you have sat down and enjoyed your meal. *(sidebar- enjoy your meal. Turn off the tv and take a few minutes to taste your food and think about it. I have eaten a whole plate of food watching tv and reached down wondering what the hell happened to it. It’s a good meal, you made it, so enjoy it.)

Number three and worth the effort is the famous Fathead pizza crust. You can Youtube this one for several videos but basically you are using a lot of cheese mixed with almond flour and an egg. I used ricotta cheese in place of cream cheese and it worked fine. But these girls make it quick and easy. You can learn it. Use the base, add your own favorite spices and enjoy it!

I made this several times with lots of success. The last few times I seasoned the crust with Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel seasoning and added no toppings. I cut the crust into little pieces and used it for various snacks all week. It took some willpower to not overeat it, but it’s very dense and filling in small portions. I eat the first one, then pack up the rest as soon as they cool so I am not tempted! I remind myself that it will be worth it at the next meal to have something keto friendly and ready to go.

It works well if you form it into two or three pieces on the baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. I like to flip it after about 5 minutes and cook it evenly on both sides; this flipping process takes a little practice but a wide spatula can help.  Also I coated my fingers with olive oil when I was spreading the dough because it is seriously sticky. You can use water to wet your fingers and spread it out that way too.

If you master this basic dough, then you can make endless snacks and meals from it with little to no thought or stress. In my experience the easier you can make basic building blocks of meals you like, the more likely you are to sustain the new lifestyle.

Bottom line: You need to enjoy this, make it fun and keep messing with it until it tastes really good!

Taste Your Food

I stopped to pick some blackberries just bursting with juice and warm from the sun.

I had just finished mowing the lawn and the sun was shining beautifully on the yard. I could smell the fresh cut grass and see the bugs and flowers living around me in these tiny little worlds, some of which I have planted. I stopped to pick some blackberries just bursting with juice and warm from the sun. I grabbed a bowl and picked them all. I was covered in sweat and grass, a few scratches from the tree I had trimmed, but I  washed these warm berries, toasted half a slice of wholesome bread, spread on peanut butter, layered it with the fresh berries, then drizzled it with local wildflower honey. I took my sandwich back outside, sat on my lounge chair and enjoyed every last bite. This was a slice of heaven in my own backyard. I took a picture to remind myself how good it tasted and how important is to taste my food and enjoy the moment.

 

food

Try Kayaking -It’s Easy!

I left rejuvenated, sort of baptized by the waters. I felt happy. I still feel happy thinking about that moment; –it’s a place I can escape to in my mind now.

A couple of weeks ago, I tried kayaking. It was amazing. I loved the feeling of being in the water, but staying mostly dry while paddling down the creek. My son and I rented a couple single kayaks at (http://www.trapperjohnscanoeing.com/) Trapper John’s in Grove City, Ohio spending about $30 total for the hour and a half excursion down a section of State and National Scenic Big Darby Creek. We mainly had the creek to ourselves as we paddled and floated along the beautiful and serene course. I saw little turtle families sun bathing on branches and rocks, listened to birds chirp and watched my nearly full-grown-teenage-son paddle and float and learn to steer his boat. We didn’t talk much except to warn of low water ahead. At one point he yelled to me to catch his shoe floating my way. The creek water was very low in spots so at times you had to step out and push the boat through the shallow waters. I understood the advice of strapped on shoes instead of flip-flops at several points along the way, but we avoided the loss of any shoes.

Leaving our phones back in the car meant no photo opportunities, no text messages, no Snap Chatting, no phone ringing and no distraction from the nature that was all around us completely encompassing our whole bodies and spirits with no effort on our part–we only needed to be present to benefit. Bursting with green foliage the banks gave way to trees that reached up to form a canopy that we traveled through. My mind drifted back to early settlers and how brave they had to be in the new world. I took long deep breaths as I floated along looking up at the blue skies and fragmented sunlight shining through the branches highlighting different scenes of the woods, the creek and our boats as we quietly paddled along.

I left rejuvenated, sort of baptized by the waters. I felt happy. I still feel happy thinking about that moment; –it’s a place I can escape to in my mind now.

A few nights ago my friend Ann asked me to come up and kayak after work. It was a beautiful day and we would have a couple hours before sunset. My first instinct is to think of a reason why I can’t. But I tried my best to dismiss those pesky thoughts and I said yes. I felt the same return to nature, but this time I brought my phone so I could capture a few shots of my new love of being out on the water. We talked and caught up like old friends do as we marveled at the beauty and enjoyed our kayaking into the sunset moment. Now, I have two experiences of kayaking that I can return to in my mind when I need a bit of peace.

The trip with Ann was a different spot in a cove of Hoover Reservoir in Westerville, Ohio. She lives in walking distance of the entryway with a little ramp for kayaks and small motorboats. The cove is a no-wake zone, so the waters felt safe and calm the whole time. I would say that overall kayaking is very easy and the benefits of being out on the water outweigh the minimal amount of effort it takes to paddle. It’s an activity you can approach with a huge amount of effort I am sure and obtain a great workout from, or you can just take it easy and go at a leisurely pace. It’s like riding a bike in that way there are several degrees of difficulty and starting at the easiest level is usually the best way to ease into a new activity.

 

Overall my lesson was clear from both days of kayaking: Say yes to new things!

 

kayaking

Follow Your Yellow Brick Road

This evidence of the universe conspiring to help you is all around if you pay close enough attention.

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream,” said the alchemist, echoing the words of the old king. (Coelho)

Yellow-brick-road

Whenever I start making choices that agree with my higher self or the intentions that I have in my mind, there seems to appear a walkway almost like the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz. If you keep following that road there are bound to be some encounters with your flying monkeys and wicked witches, but you just keep following that road and help is all around you. I was running on the path a couple weeks ago, I was hot and struggling to jog when I saw this lady walking, I had passed her earlier and then I turned around so I am now passing her again this time face to face. I took my ear bud out and I was walking now, I said, “Wow, it’s a lot hotter out here than I thought.” She looked me in the eye and held eye contact and with a heart-warming smile she said, “I’m proud of you.” I smiled back and kept walking down the path feeling like God had spoken through this woman, she looked straight into my soul it seemed. I suddenly felt proud of myself and picked up my pace to a trot and made it home feeling renewed. I felt like it was about more than just my commitment to exercise that day it was like a blanket statement for all the work I am doing and the path I am trying to walk on a larger scale. The experience didn’t make sense, I didn’t know this lady, nor could I remember having seen her before and I have not seen her since. This is a path that runs along the main road outside of my neighborhood. Was that person some form of God, an angel or a mere mortal? I don’t know, and really it doesn’t matter but for that one part of the yellow brick road I had my Glenda moment and I am sure there will be more help along the way.

My practice is to pay attention to the unseen current of energy that sort of picks you up and lets you float every once in a while when you are heading in the right direction. This evidence of the universe conspiring to help you is all around if you pay close enough attention. It’s a book you find, a picture you come across, an old letter you read, a friend that calls, a movie you watch, a show you see, a party you attend, a job you find, a meal you cook, a yoga class you take, a trail you walk, a moment you take, a dream you remember, an ice cream cone you taste, a fragrance you smell, a sunset you see, a river you cross, a mountain you climb or whatever pops up along the yellow brick road you are following. Literally and figuratively the universe is with you, inside you and all around you. Once you believe in yourself, there is nothing that can stop you, not even the Wicked Witch her self.