Keto on the Cheap: Week 1 Summary

Although I’m already into week two of my “keto on the cheap” challenge, I thought I’d post a summary of week one.  Overall, I’m thrilled about the way things went!

First, for folks who are numbers folks like me, here are some stats.

  • Highest Weight (May 2017): 290.2lb
  • Challenge Start Weight: 259.4lb
  • Loss in Week 1: 8.2lb

As some of you might remember, I’ve also been tracking my food with Cronometer.  I’ve been doing this for two reasons. First, I want to keep myself honest and avoid carb creep.  Second, I’d like to have numbers to look back on if I have to do some troubleshooting later on (which ALWAYS happens eventually.)

As I’ve mentioned in previous updates, I expected to be a lot more hungry over that first week.  I wasn’t though. And as I look back at my data, I think two things were at play there. First, week one happened to coincide with week two of my cycle.  This is typically the time that my eating and weight seem to be least affected by annoying girlie hormones. Second, I did a pretty good job of keeping my macros decently balanced.  I was staying full because I kept my carbs low and I didn’t overdo on the protein. I was pretty happy with that, for sure!

I experienced some of the GI stuff that’s usual for me when I change my eating, and I’m still dealing with some occasional reflux although that seems to be clearing up quicker than is typical for me also.

Overall, week one was surprisingly outstanding for me, and that makes it easier to stay motivated.  Community helps too, so don’t forget to come on over to the Claiming Liberty Discussion Group on Facebook and tell me about your journey.  I’d love to hear from you!

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Keto Strawberry Mug Cake

This moist, flavorful, low-carb mug cake cooks in less than two minutes, and my son thought it was made with wheat flour and sugar! This is a perfect addition to the menu for an occasional treat.

Ingredients

Procedure

  1. Place butter and cream cheese in a microwave-safe mug and heat on high for 20 seconds.  Stir with a fork to combine.
  2. Add coconut flour, baking powder, Truvia, and vanilla to the butter/cream cheese mixture and stir again ’til well blended.
  3. Add egg.  Stir.  Add frozen strawberry slices and stir one last time.
  4. Microwave mug cake on high for 1:30.  Check for doneness.  Invert onto a plate and allow to cool.  Serve with whipped cream if desired.

Notes

This recipe made two servings for me.  After we discovered how amazing it was, we tried to make a quadruple batch in a measuring cup.  When it seemed done, I turned it out onto a plate, and the whole thing fell apart on me.  It was liquidy in the center from the strawberries but it was completely cooked on the outside.  Next time, I’ll split a quadruple batch into silicone muffin cups and cook it that way to ensure doneness.

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Keto on the Cheap: Day 3 & Food Cost

I’m still kicking butt and taking names even though yesterday was a hard day to push through because of some pretty rough fatigue.  When I stepped on the scale this morning, I was down another .8lb for a total of 6.6lb lost.

I’m still quite surprised about my lack of hunger.  Usually at this point in a reboot, I’m starving and I’m eating frequently.  As I shared in a previous update though, lack of hunger continues to be the norm this time around.

I’m also continuing to struggle with some GI issues.  I don’t have a gallbladder, so adjusting from a lower fat, crappy carbage diet to a higher fat, nutrient dense diet is giving me a little trouble.  It always does, but I know it’ll settle down soon, and it’ll be well worth it when I’m back in the swing of things and my body has had time to adapt.

Day three’s macros were good.  I ate around 1300 calories with 77% of those calories coming from fat.  For a time, I was worried that I’d only have one meal yesterday, but I did end up having a small snack of salami and cream cheese around 8:00pm.

Lastly, I wanted to share the financial cost of one day’s food since this series is called “Keto on the Cheap”.  On day two, I had loaded scrambled eggs for breakfast. I used 3 eggs, 4 pieces of bacon, an ounce of spinach, an ounce of cheese, two ounces of mushrooms, and 2 ounces of pico de gallo.  That meal cost a whopping $3.24.

For supper, I had a cheddar and bacon angus patty, 2 slices of provolone cheese, and 2 ounces of hard salami.  That added another $2.21 for a daily total of $5.45. I’m picking inexpensive foods for the most part, so relatively speaking, I’m not doing too bad.  I can’t wait to see how our grocery spending looks after the first two weeks!

I’m plugging away and I’m staying focused.  I can do this!

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Keto on the Cheap: Day 2

Day two presented some interesting challenges, but I’m still as enthusiastic as ever.  And since I saw a 3lb loss on the scale this morning, I’m must have done pretty well.

I woke up with a headache yesterday morning.  I don’t think it had anything to do with my eating habits.  In fact, I think I was caffeine deficient. And since the headache went away after I caffeinated, I’m pretty sure that my lack of caffeine was the culprit.

My “breakfast” was incredibly late yesterday.  My husband and I had an errand to run, and I wasn’t hungry before we left.  I was quite hungry by the time we got home though, so I prepared perhaps one of the most delicious salads I’ve ever had.  It didn’t turn out to agree with my GI tract though. I’ll spare you all the details, but suffice it to say that I was pretty miserable for about three hours after eating that salad.

I was hungry for supper around 8:00pm, so I ate some hard salami and a bacon cheeseburger patty that I wrapped in some provolone cheese.  That seemed sufficient for the day.

Yesterday’s macros were:

  • Calories: 1537 kcal
  • Fat: 121.8 g
  • Carbs: 19.7 g
  • Fiber: 3.8 g
  • Protein: 91.6 g
  • % Calories from Fat: 71.32 %

In tomorrow’s update, I’ll share a breakdown of my daily food costs.  I think I’m doing well in that regard.

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Keto on the Cheap: Day 1

I couldn’t have asked for a better first day back on plan.  I know that my pre-planning helped, and a positive attitude didn’t hurt either.

My starting weight for this phase of my journey was 259.4lb.  This morning, I was down 2.8lb and feeling great.

So what did my first day look like? Around 12:45, I ate my “breakfast” — scrambled eggs with bacon, mushrooms, spinach, pico de gallo, and cheese.  Supper happened around 8:00pm. I had a burger salad (salad greens, pico de gallo, cheese, ranch dressing, and a chopped bacon cheeseburger) and called it a day.

According to cronometer, my macros were:

  • Calories: 1605 kcal
  • Fat: 135.3g
  • Carbs: 17.7g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 79.2g

I did feel the tiniest bit munchy at bedtime, but I really think that had more to do with the fact that other family members were snacking.  A just refilled my water and went to bed.

I did have a bit of trouble sleeping last night, but I attribute that more to the pain I was dealing with last night.  I experience random episodes of pain and swelling in various muscles and joints, and that happens regardless of how I eat.  I can say for certain though that those episodes decrease when I’m eating a less inflammatory diet.

I’ll report on day two tomorrow!

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Keto on the Cheap: Prep Work

Since I’m committed to getting back on track with my eating and my health, there was some prep work involved for my big day, September 1.  Since failing to plan means I’m planning to fail, I had to get my ducks in a row by doing some grocery shopping, planning menu options, and deciding how I’m going to document this all for the folks who’re interested in following me on my journey.

Obviously, one of the most important components to this challenge is food.  I need to acquire the food, prepare the food, and consume the food. And since this journey also focuses on financial health, I can’t just throw money at my food.  There has to be some careful planning.

Yesterday, I took a basic inventory of our provisions and then I planned a shopping list for Sam’s Club.  Since I had already looked at other sales in our area, I knew how to make our money stretch. And since there are five of us in this family, the large quantities of some items aren’t a problem for us.

We spent $133 at Sam’s Club yesterday and we came home with:

  • 1 pound of pork rinds
  • 2 quarts of half & half
  • 2 quarts of heavy cream
  • 3 pounds of sour cream
  • 3 pounds of cottage cheese
  • 3 pounds of string cheese
  • 1.5 pounds of whole mushrooms
  • 1 pound of organic baby spinach
  • 6 romaine hearts
  • 3 pounds of broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix
  • 5 avocados
  • 2 pounds of mini cucumbers
  • 1.75 pounds of “cocktail” tomatoes on the vine
  • A large package of chicken leg quarters
  • A large package of chicken tenderloins
  • A large package of stew beef
  • 4 pounds of applewood smoked Wright bacon
  • 1.25 pounds of sliced hard salami
  • New York crunch roll (because I knew I wouldn’t be eating sushi until my birthday dinner in December)

Some of these items will last our family for two weeks or even more, and some of these items will be eaten over the next week.  On September 13, we’ll see if we stuck to the budget of $150 per week. So far though, it’s looking good.

I had intended to make some deviled eggs yesterday, but time got away from me because I was helping my son who’s recovering from sinus surgery.  When I got up this morning though, I started cleaning my kitchen which has been seriously neglected recently, and I’ll take care of some food prep after I get a clean work space.

I’m feeling confident though.  There are nothing but good things to come!

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Keto on the Cheap: Goals and Rules

I’ve been thinking about my “Keto on the Cheap” series for a week or so now, and I think I’ve solidified the goals and ground rules.  The rules may change over time, but I have to start somewhere since September 1 is less than three days away.

Goals

My goals for this project are simple.  I want to:

  1. Re-establish the habit of eating low-carb foods all the time with no exceptions or excuses
  2. Reduce the amount of money that we spend on food without resorting to pasta, rice, and bread
  3. Provide resources and encouragement for folks who think they can’t get healthier because it’s “too expensive”
  4. Build community and accountability for folks who are sick and tired of being sick and tired

Rules

Deciding on some ground rules helped me develop some direction with this challenge.  After all, how can I measure success if I don’t have metrics?

  1. Be honest — I realize that a rule like that might seem like it goes without saying, but I can’t meet my goals without integrity and transparency.
  2. Record data — This rule might seem too restrictive for some folks, but I’ve always been a data hoarder.  Whether it’s weight, blood sugar, blood ketones, or the foods I eat with nutrition data and timing, I have always collected data so that I can analyze and tweak later if I need to do that.  If things aren’t going the way I expected yet I don’t have data to look at, I can’t develop strategies to keep things moving forward.
  3. $150 per week grocery budget — That might seem like a lot of money to some folks, but as I look back at our grocery spending over the past few months, we’ve been spending about $275 per week on the five of us.  That kind of spending will not help us meet our financial goals, and it certainly isn’t helping me meet my health goals either.
  4. No requirement for labels like organic, grass-fed, etc.  — All too often, people allow the pursuit of perfection to be the enemy of “good enough”.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard folks in low-carb circles say things like, “You’ll spend less money on food in the long run, so you’ll be able to afford the higher quality foods.” While that may be true, in my experience, there are folks like me who need to do something now but there’s nothing to cut out to make room for that grass-fed ribeye that you’d love to have for dinner.  That’s why I want to show folks that small changes can yield huge results, and money doesn’t have to be a barrier.
  5. Report daily — Whether it’s checking in on social media or making blog posts, I won’t be a stranger.  Folks who’re interested in what I’m doing will probably get really tired of my sharing, but that sharing is what I require to keep me accountable.

As I said in a previous post, I’m really excited about this project, and it feels great to have direction and purpose.  Nothing but good things will come from this experience, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

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Accountability & Keto on the Cheap

One of my favorite podcasters, Jack Spirko over at The Survival Podcast, has started a new YouTube series describing his low-carb/keto journey.  As I listened to his first video in the series, something that he said really spoke to me.  He talked about how he’d used low-carb eating to get down to around 220 pounds, but then he started getting sloppy.  Before he knew it, he’d gained back a decent bit of weight and his blood tests weren’t looking so great anymore.

Now, why would something like that speak to me specifically? Well, for those of you who’ve followed me through my journey, I think you know the answer to that question.  Since starting my blog back back 2011, my weight has been as high as 291 and as low as 218.  And over these past 8 years, I’ve known what to do and how to do it, but I haven’t always done what I needed to do for one reason or another.  At the time, the reasons seemed like good reasons, but in the end, I think my struggles have been exacerbated by a lack of accountability.

This idea really sunk in for me when I was listening to Jack’s third episode.  At the end, he thanked his audience for keeping him accountable.  That simple expression of gratitude got me thinking about a few things.

As most of you know, I’m still struggling with some depression.  So I’ve identified that, but now what? Having that knowledge doesn’t necessarily change things for me in the moment.  It doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly going to feel motivation to do the things that don’t really feel like they matter.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to suddenly find direction and meaning in the midst of these tough things that I’m processing right now.  It does, however, mean that a fact exists for which I need a work-around because it’s getting in the way of me living my life to the fullest extent possible.  It’s no different than my blindness really.  The fact that I’m blind doesn’t mean I’m off the hook.  It means that I have to push to figure out work-arounds to get me where I want to go.  It means I have to think creatively, and it means I can’t give up!

As I let all this sink in, I started wondering how I can behave my way out of my current situation.  How can I fake it ’til I make it? Inspired by an off-hand comment that a guy in a video made about accountability, everything came together all at once — keto on the cheap!

I know the path is a wandering one, but stick with me here.  I’ve been eating badly for a while now, and that’s certainly not helping my mental health any.  We’ve been spending money that we shouldn’t be spending on unhealthy yet delicious food, and those choices have added to my stress.  I have to get my eating on track, and we have to get our food costs way down.  Remember though, I’m dealing with depression that lies to me and tells me that food is the only thing I have to look forward to some days.

Now enter the idea of “keto on the cheap”.  Letting go of carby foods scares the heck out of me right now, but sometimes those things that scare us are exactly the things that we need to do.  So starting September 1, I will get back to a keto eating plan, and I won’t be flying by the seat of my pants.  I will have a plan so that my physical, financial, and emotional needs are met, and I will update folks on social media for the purposes of accountability.  Surely, I’m not the only one struggling this way, and by sharing my struggles transparently, if I can help just one person, it’ll be worth it to me.

There haven’t been too many things that I’ve been excited about recently, but I really think I can make something out of this idea, and in helping myself, hopefully I’ll help others as well.  Stay tuned!

Related Links

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More on Making the Most of Your Dash

One of my favorite podcasters likes to encourage folks saying, “Make the most of your dash,”, and I’ve been considering that a lot lately as I ponder how things have changed in the last year.  I still remember the conversation from a year ago so clearly.  My housemate was afraid that she was having issues with a hernia, and we strategized about how we were going to get care for her with minimal interruption to the daily flow of things at the house.  Little did we know that we’d be mourning her death less than three months after that conversation, and I feel like I’ve been treading water after the all-hands-on-deck approach that we used in the last weeks of Sue’s life.

Now that the kids have gone back to school, I guess it’s really started to sink in again that the homestead can be a really lonely place.  Without the kids and my dear friend, the days seem really long and I’m really struggling to find the thing that’ll help me with purpose, motivation, and drive.

So what does this have to do with my “dash”? Well, I’ve been struggling for quite some time now, and as I’ve struggled, the clock keeps ticking.  This means that I’m not making forward progress for myself and my family, and that’s tough to reconcile in my own head.  Every day is precious and can’t be wasted, so what’s next?

Folks who know me well know that I’m positive and persistent.  It might take me some time in the weeds to get back onto the path, but in the end, I’m always right back on the path heading forward.  I feel like this last year has been one of those times in the weeds, but I’m tired of the itching, the thorns, and the tangled mess of plant matter at my feet.  I know that the path is nearby; I just need to find the right tools to get there.

I’m really excited about trying one of those tools — a family camping trip.  My son read a book about some guys who through-hiked the Appalachain Trail, and he expressed interest in doing that too.  As we talked more about it, it occurred to me that planning a long hike for any of the family who wanted to join us could be just the kind of experience I need to get my head back in the game.  Then I thought about how much I enjoy camping, and before I knew it, a trip was planned.  There are still some details that need addressed, but the kids and I are so excited!

And now as I think about it, it’s been a very long time since I’ve been truly excited about something.  So perhaps I’ve just recognized an important tool to get me back on the path toward making the most of my dash.  And I’m sure I’ll have plenty of experiences to share along the way!

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Save with Sarah — Storing Ice

I know this sounds like a silly thing to think about in the winter, but have you ever considered saving money by storing ice? It really can work in the right circumstances.

Last year, we had to buy another chest freezer to store homestead-grown turkeys.  I feared that we’d be hurting for freezer space, but as it turned out, didn’t overflow the 16-cubic-foot freezer with the turkeys.  That meant that we ended up with something that’s very precious to most folks — space in deep freezes.

At one point, I had considered consolidating my small chest freezer with my larger one, but I thought I wouldn’t be left with much wiggle room, so I just left well enough alone for a while.

I hadn’t given the whole freezer situation much thought until I was getting ice this morning.  We have a plumbed ice maker in our kitchen freezer that makes amazing ice from reverse osmosis filtered water.  We use a little each day for things like iced coffee or the occasional cold beverage, but for the most part, the ice just sits in the bin taking up space.

This morning, I noticed that the situation had gotten so bad that there was a large chunk of ice cubes that were preventing new cubes from moving to the front of the bin.  I got ice for my iced coffee, and then I pulled the entire bin out of the freezer.  I retrieved the ice chunk, and I plopped it into a freezer zipper bag.  Then, I started thinking.

A month or two ago, I heard a little snippet on The Survival Podcast from a guy who was talking about saving money by storing ice.  His rationale went something like this.  He didn’t use much ice in the winter, but he ended up buying ice in the summer.  Like me, he had freezer space available, so he bought “reusable” ice bags from Amazon, and he started filling them with excess winter ice.  By storing that ice, he was paying less to run his freezers (because it costs more money to keep air cold), and he ended up with plenty of ice come summertime.  Yes, he bought bags, but the savings made it worth it.

Like I said before, we don’t use a lot of ice around here, but we do end up buying ice during the summer.  In the past, I’ve stored ice in zipper bags, but they can only hold so much ice, and they don’t hold up over time.

While I put today’s ice in a zipper bag to solve my immediate problem, the whole situation reminded me that I can store ice and save money.  Bonus!

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