Broccoli cheddar soup

Weeks 14-15: Keto Vegetarian

Weeks 14-15 –
Weight lost: 3.6 pounds (Total: -27.6 pounds)
% Body weight lost: 1.54% (Total: -10.7%)
Inches lost (waist): 0.25″ (Total: -4.50″)
Inches lost (neck): 0.00″ (Total: -1.0″)
Sleep quality: 89% (+9% from last week)

I had another fat flush a few days ago… I had a weird day where I was craving salt, greens, and protein. When I have weird cravings, I just go with it, so I had a mish-mash lunch of weirdness that I didn’t photograph. The next day, I was noticing squishy fat again, and the day after, I was peeing like crazy. I thought, “Whew, I finally caught up with hydration!” Nope. Still borderline dehydrated – but lost 2 pounds in 2 days of water that my fat cells were holding on to. I’ll take it!

I’m extremely happy with my weight loss, and so is my doctor. I had my annual checkup last week and she was particularly pleased with my blood pressure and loss in waist circumference. We discussed my diet (her nurse just started keto, too) and she wanted to check my electrolytes in my labs. She was concerned that doing this vegetarian, the large amounts of dairy I’m eating might show up in my cholesterol count.

Blood pressure

Blood pressure back to normal (for me). Yeah doggie.


My potassium and sodium both came up on the low end of normal, so that was good. (Doesn’t explain my nighttime foot cramps – though it might just be the chronic near-dehydration). Unfortunately, she was right about the cholesterol. My cholesterol has always been right around 205-220, but I’ve always had very high good cholesterol which keeps the HDL risk factor ratio in a healthy range and keeps the docs off my back. This year, my total cholesterol jumped to 291 and my good cholesterol dropped by 15 points. My HDL risk factor is out of the healthy range. She thinks it’s the diet and wants to see me again in 3 months for repeat blood lipids. She didn’t mention this but I noticed one of my liver tests was high (AST – SGOT) – 19 last year, 44 this year (normal range 10-37). I’ve read that keto can be tough on the liver. My kidney values were all fine, and I don’t drink more than 2 or 3 times per year, so I’m guessing keto is challenging my liver as well.

Cauliflower fried rice and bread cheese

Cauliflower fried “rice” and bread cheese


I don’t want to stop keto. I did some research and there’s some anecdotal evidence that says raising carbs slightly and adding more greens/fruits can help lower cholesterol. I’ve tested my carb tolerance for ketosis a couple times and found it to be at least 50g net carbs/day. So I’m going to keep my calorie intake the same and raise my net carbs from 25 to 38g (so, from 7% to 11% or so). I was at the near minimum recommended protein for my size and activity level, so I’ll keep that at 75g, which reduces my fat intake by a few grams a day. Yes, keto needs fat for fuel, but I’ll still be in the ranges of a ketogenic diet and will test to see if I stay in ketosis.

I’m also going to make an effort to replace some of the dairy I’m eating with other fats. The hard part is that dairy is also a big chunk of my protein – so I may shift to more veg meats (which in some cases includes soy – which I’m not opposed to in small quantities, but the keto police may come knocking at my door).

That’s what I’m going to try, and then we’ll see where I’m at in 3 months.

Broccoli cheddar soup

Broccoli cheddar soup. I took the recipe from Keto Connect and made it in the Vitamix instead.


I’m disappointed and frustrated with my body. I don’t know what I’ll do if she recommends I stop the keto way of eating. I could go with Atkins and a more general low carb and see if that helps. Or I could just go back to the olden days of high carb/low fat and shoot for no added sugar/whole foods. Higher carb is much more convenient as a vegetarian, but I’m always starving and don’t get the awesome mental clarity that I get from ketosis. If my numbers don’t improve in 3 months, I think I will ask her to give me 3 more months to try a higher carb Atkins style low-carb diet. She has been willing to work with me in the past and not resort to medication or ultimatums. If I can’t get things back to normal in 6 months, then it’s probably back to high carb for me. :-/


Veggie bbq pulled pork

Weeks 9-10: Keto Vegetarian

Weeks 9-10 –
Weight lost: 3.2 pounds (Total: -20.6 pounds)
% Body weight lost: 1.33% (Total: -7.98%)
Inches lost (waist): 0.25″ (Total: -3.75″)
Inches lost (neck): 0.25″ (Total: -1.0″)
Sleep quality: 92% (+2% from last week)

The plateau has been broken! Hoorah! Finally.

Not much new around here! I’ve been struggling a bit keeping hydrated as winter kicks in. I’m drinking a ton of water (60 oz a day absolute minimum, 80+ most days) and that’s hurting my electrolyte levels, leading to foot cramps at night. I can’t figure out my body’s middle ground. I have my annual doc checkup in a month or so, and I plan to have her check my electrolytes and get some advice.

Other than that, I’ve been a bit lazy with cooking (more like busy, but it makes my meals pretty boring). I did try a couple new products including the Morningstar Farms veggie pulled pork, which I really liked with Keto Connect’s BBQ sauce. I subbed white pepper for black pepper and used too much, so mine was too spicy, but it was still good.

Here’s the photographic evidence!


This is my lazy lunch go-to: some form of sandwich making vessel (Keto Connect low carb bagel, in this case), scrambled egg with cheese, and a Morningstar Farms veggie sausage patty.


This is the new Morningstar Farms veggie pulled pork, with Keto Connect BBQ sauce and plain green beans. I RAN OUT OF KERRYGOLD. The horror. This is the laziest meal ever. I couldn’t even be bothered to put it on mug bread.


Yep, another fathead pizza. Easy breezy beautiful. And green beans. Still out of Kerrygold.


3-minute mug biscuits have saved me this week. This looks boring but there is secretly some sugar free maple syrup between the biscuit and the scrambled egg and cheese, which made it quite delightful actually.


A new find at Costco – Hannah’s Cheesy Cauliflower Dip! I know, this meal looks weird, but it tastes so good! Mug biscuit, Rao’s tomato basil marinara, salted macadamia nuts, and some Flackers.


I made more meatball subs! The 3-meatball version from last week was too much food for one meal, so I did 2-meatball versions (same fathead dough recipe). These were perfect! Raos marinara and Gardien veggie meatballs inside.




Fathead pizza

Weeks 6-8: Keto Vegetarian

Weeks 6-8 –
Weight lost: 0.2 pounds (Total: -17.4 pounds)
% Body weight lost: 0.8% (Total: -6.74%)
Inches lost (waist): 0.75″ (Total: -3.50″)
Inches lost (neck): 0.0″ (Total: -0.75″)
Sleep quality: 90% (+3% from last week)

And just like that, 3 weeks has gone by! I traveled for a couple weeks over Thanksgiving, and am happy to report that I did not cheat on keto – not even once. I went over my 1,525 calories a few days, but never went above 30g net carbs.

I hadn’t been updating here because my weight was not changing… literally. To the tenth of a pound. The same. After not weighing myself while traveling and knowing how well I stuck to the plan, I expected a loss when I got home – and… my weight was still the same! But here’s where it gets strange: I lost 3/4″ from my waist in those 3 weeks. My body fat dropped 3.9% and muscle gained 3.0%. I fit into jeans I haven’t worn in 5 years – jeans that are 3 sizes smaller than when I started eating keto. Clearly, something is happening. Clearly, the scale is not the be-all, end-all measure of success.

There’s a phenomenon that I’ve experienced countless times during the many years of dieting for weight loss that I’ve done, but I never knew that it had a name or what was actually happening. Nutritionist Lyle McDonald dubbed the terms “whoosh” and “squishy fat” in describing this phenomenon, and I think it’s what’s happening to me now. Without getting into TMI territory, I’ve noticed lately that I’m in squishy fat territory – where, well, my fat just feels more squishy and less dense. I am probably due to see a fat whoosh soon.

What’s a fat whoosh? It’s when you lose a few pounds, seemingly overnight, when there’s no day-to-day caloric explanation for it (i.e. losing 3 pounds overnight without having a 10k calorie deficit the day before). The explanation goes something like this: your fat cells store triglyceride. When you burn that triglyceride (fat) for energy, the fat cells don’t shrink immediately. The cells fill with water instead, maintaining nearly the same size/shape as when they were filled with fat. Your fat feels squishy because your fat cells are full of water instead of fat. The body is holding out with the expectation that the fat cells be refilled with fat soon. When it finally gives up, the body releases all of that water and you have a whoosh (and pee a lot… and drop a few pounds!)

It seems that there is no tried-and-true way to hurry along a whoosh (or prevent them, for that matter). Really, they’re good things; they mean you’re burning fat. There are some anecdotal theories that a carb-up can trigger a whoosh if your fat cells are holding on to water, or that alcohol can trigger one (as a mild diuretic). I haven’t done any sort of carb re-feeds but I did have alcohol Thanksgiving weekend, and no whoosh yet. So I wouldn’t bank on that as a whoosh-busting strategy!

I’m going to hang in there and hold on to hope that the scale will soon confirm the positive changes I see happening in my measurements.

On to food! I was pretty limited in what I could cook over Thanksgiving because I was staying at my mom’s and her kitchen is neither stocked nor equipped like mine. (I had to go out and buy a food processor and silicone baking trays at Target, and I brought my little egg maker with me, because there are some things I just can’t live without!) I did try out a few new recipes for our holiday dinner that turned out great!


Keto Connect 3 minute biscuit breakfast sandwich

I had a lot of breakfast sandwiches on my trip! This is a Morningstar Farms veggie sausage patty with a scrambled egg (with heavy whipping cream) and a 3-minute low carb biscuit from Keto Connect.


Walnut spiced butter cookies from Keto Connect

I made these for our family’s Thanksgiving feast – another Keto Connect recipe: Buttery Nutmeg Spiced Walnut Cookies. Holy cow. With 11g fat, 1g net carbs, and 100 calories each, these might just have to be a regular dessert around here – a less severe fat bomb, if you will! They’re so good.


Isn't fathead dough glorious?

Isn’t fathead dough beautiful?


Bagels - Keto Connect

This is my 2nd time making Keto Connect bagels, but this time I got a bigger donut tray. I overfilled these a bit (the recipe should make 6, but I think with this mold I’d get 5 out of it if I didn’t over-fill). I like the size, though, because it works much better for sandwiches. The texture on these is a little bit crumbly, but they taste so good that I ain’t mad at ’em.


Fathead pizza

I’m re-obsessed with the plain ‘ol fathead pizza. This one has 2 tbsp hemp hearts added to the dough (garlic and pink salt as the dough seasoning), Rao’s tomato basil sauce (serious obsession with this stuff in progress), and mozzarella and Kerrygold Dubliner cheese on top.


Fathead dough and veggie meatballs with Rao tomato basil saunce

Another miracle made from fathead dough – a meatball sub! The meatballs are Gardien veggie meatballs, with Rao’s sauce inside. I just made the dough, split it into 2 portions, spread some Rao’s in the middle, add 3 meatballs, and wrap it all up and bake. A sandwich this big is a pretty huge meal; I made this a couple times and ended up cutting it in half most days. I think next time I might try portioning the dough into 4 and wrapping 2 meatballs in each one.


Easy no bake cheesecake from Keto Connect

Yes, another Keto Connect recipe – easy no-bake cheesecake with chocolate ganache. I used an extra large silicone cupcake mold and it made 6 cheesecakes – perfect for a celebratory-sized dessert, though I will make them half the size for regular everyday consumption. The only thing I did differently was sweeten the ganache a bit. I used Swerve confectioners sweetener. This photo was taken when the cheesecake was frozen. It’s a little hard to eat when frozen. I like to store them in the freezer, but pull one out a day to thaw in the fridge and eat it from thawed.


Week 5: Keto Vegetarian

Week  5 –
Weight lost: 0 pounds (Total: -17.2 pounds)
% Body weight lost: 0% (Total: -6.67%)
Inches lost (waist): 0.0″ (Total: -2.75″)
Inches lost (neck): 0.0″ (Total: -0.75″)
Sleep quality: 87%

Well… there’s not much to report for week 5! I had 3 separate occasions where I had a couple drinks (two birthday dinners and a fundraiser event), and a couple of meals away from home, and that’s got me plateauing. I stayed in ketosis the entire time, but I’m also not eating enough calories. Busy week, not planning ahead well enough. So it’s been kind of hodge-podge… and I can tell I’m dehydrated. Many explanations for zero loss this week!

Here are some of those hodge-podge meals:

Taco salad with sleeping cat

Taco salad with bonus sleeping cat.


Veggie sausage egg McKetoMuffin

Veggie sausage egg McKetoMuffin (scrambled egg with Dubliner cheese and Morningstar Farms breakfast sausage patty on the Ultimate Keto Bun).


Basil-Tomato Pizza Veggie burger on the ultimate keto bun with kale chips

Morningstar Farms Basil Tomato Pizza veggie burger with mayo, Dubliner cheese, and pickles on the Ultimate Keto Bun with kale chips.


Making a meal out of appetizers at the Wildlife Center of Virginia Gala

I made dinner out of the appetizer plates at the Wildlife Center of Virginia fundraiser gala. (I also ate the guts out of the veggie lasagna).

One Month of Keto Vegetarian

Here we are! Tomorrow is my one-month keto anniversary. Despite one night of drinking red wine, I have remained in nutritional ketosis the entire month. How do the numbers look?

Week  4 –
Weight lost: -5.2 pounds (Total: -17.2 pounds)
% Body weight lost: -2.11% (Total: -6.67%)
Inches lost (waist): -1.0″ (Total: -2.75″)
Inches lost (neck): 0.0″ (Total: -0.75″)
Sleep quality: 91%

So, 17.2# for the month and almost 3 inches off of my waist (where I carry most of my weight). I’m tracking a few other numbers as well; according to my scale, I’ve lost 1.5% body fat and gained 1.3% muscle. Those number seem to vary wildly based on my hydration levels, so it’s not a very accurate measurement. I try to record the average of the day before and after weigh-in to get the most reasonable number.

For comparison’s sake, I dug out 2 old spreadsheets I have from previous dedicated attempts at weight lost. My most successful started in 2009, when my starting weight was about 10 pounds heavier than this time, and I ended up losing 110 pounds over the course of a year. (Clearly, I gained most of it back!) It was a low fat diet that I maintained for about 3 years. In that first month, I lost 14.6 pounds (5.49%) – and that included exercise of 45-60 minutes per day, 4 days per week. Granted, exercise is great – but 8 years later when my metabolism is clearly slower and more screwed up than in 2009, a keto diet with no additional exercise earned me better results (17.2 pounds, 6.67%). That seems impressive to me.

The other data I’ve got is from 2013, also a low fat diet with exercise, and I lost 9.59 pounds the first month (-4.29%). Nowhere near as good as keto.

I’m still feeling great. I’m still loving what I eat. The couple weeks of skin breakouts I was getting have cleared up.

On the downside, I’m still having trouble keeping my electrolytes up. I don’t like (or won’t eat due to being vegetarian) many of the keto-friendly foods that have good magnesium and potassium values, so I’m trying to be conscious of eating more nuts and avocados, and not skipping supplements. And I’m definitely dehydrated. I’ve only been drinking tea and water with the occasional Powerade Zero, but I’m getting maybe 50oz a day. Since keto is a generally diuretic diet, I need to drink more. I can tell I’m not getting enough water.

Some info for the ladies (skip ahead, guys, if this stuff wigs you out) – I had my first period on keto this month. I’d been spotting the entire month (despite being on the pill), and when shark week came, whoa nellie… it was the heaviest I think I’ve ever had in my life. Totally out of the ordinary for me. However, I had zero cramping – none – and THAT is a dang miracle. I suffer atrocious cramps and bloating most months. I am hoping that when this one wraps up, the spotting will stop as well, and things will normalize.

I am extremely happy with the results of this way of eating so far!

Here are some of the things I ate this week. I only tried 1 new recipe – mostly repeats from previous weeks.

Cauliflower fried rice, avocado, and veggie meatballs

Leftovers from last week… cauliflower fried rice with half an avocado and veggie meatballs.


Shirataki noodle alfredo

The one new recipe I tried this week! Shirataki tofu noodles alfredo. This was supposed to be 2 servings, but I ate it all. Keto Connect has a great how-to on how to make shirataki noodles so that they aren’t slimy.


Veggie beef crumbles, scrambled eggs and veggie bacon

Breakfast for dinner. Keto Connect’s hemp heart oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and veggie bacon.


Taco salad…


Headbanger's Kitchen peanut butter waffle with scrambled eggs

The Headbanger’s Kitchen peanut butter waffle with scrambled eggs.


Zucchini fritters, scrambled eggs, avocado, and Dubliner Irish cheese

Zucchini fritters with half an avocado, scrambled eggs, and Dubliner Irish cheese (so obsessed!)

Another delicious week, and a successful month on the scale. Here’s to the next! Cheers!

Red Wine. Photo by

First Time Drinking on Keto

I’m almost at the 4 week point since starting keto, and last night I had my first alcoholic beverages since starting. I just spent way too long trying to find the wine I was drinking; it was a syrah from Costco and it was wonderful for someone that typically prefers white wines. (I bought it for the cool label with black birds flying… nope, can’t find it anywhere. No idea what it was).

Zero-carb drinking on keto is pretty much limited to hard liquors – and even with those, you need to be careful. Flavored rums, for example, can have a ton of carbs. Wine can be a low-ish carb option, if you don’t drink the whole bottle. (Ahem that’s a BIG “if” for me). A 5oz glass of wine typically has 4-5g carbs. Syrah is listed as a 5g-carb wine.

I was at 26g net carbs for the day when I headed out to the Halloween party, so I knew I was about to have my highest carb day since starting keto if I drank any wine. I’d also read that alcohol hits you faster on keto, so I wasn’t planning to drink much.

I ended up having about 16oz of wine. I rounded up to 20oz under the assumption that I was more likely to be underestimating than overestimating my pours. That’s 20g carbs of wine, so I came in just under 50g for the day. Some people can eat up to 50g net carbs per day and stay in nutritional ketosis. I don’t yet know my limits. I’ve stayed under 25g the whole month.

When I got home last night (about 2 hours after I stopped drinking), my ketostix told me I was still in ketosis – a lighter pink reading, but still in it. By morning, I was still reading pink, and this afternoon, still pink. So I don’t think at 50g I was knocked out of ketosis. I’m also not having any other symptoms of being knocked out like sugar cravings.

It also could be that my body has become fat-adapted pretty quickly (the body’s preference of burning fat for fuel over glucose), and I’ve read that when you’re fat-adapted your body can tolerate a one-time carb swing pretty efficiently and go back to burning ketones as soon as it’s an option. Either way, it’s good to know that a slightly higher carb day doesn’t derail me.

How did the alcohol affect me? Well, it was kind of a bummer. I didn’t even feel buzzed, yet by the time I got home and went to bed I was having minor hangover feelings. I was also pretty dehydrated, so I drank as much water as I could throughout the night, but I didn’t sleep well. I feel fine today (just tired from not sleeping). I was kind of looking forward to feeling more buzzed with less alcohol. Oh well. I’ll get another chance soon with one more birthday celebration to go. I’ll probably try liquor for round 2.

Photo by 

Keto Vegetarian: Week 3

Week  3 –
Weight lost: 2.4 pounds (Total: 12.0 pounds)
Inches lost (waist): 0.75″ (Total: 1.75″)
Inches lost (neck): 0.50″ (Total: 0.75″)
Sleep quality: 96%

It’s Keto Week 3! No cheats yet – I’ve stayed in ketosis the entire 3 weeks. It wasn’t a huge loss on the scale, but look at those inches gone! In one week! My clothes are already fitting MUCH better and I’ve had to pull up another belt loop in my pants. This was also my birthday week (hello, 43!), so I went over my 1500-ish calories on a few days. But I think I should actually do that more often, because I’m far more frequently not eating enough calories on keto. I’m full and I just can’t eat any more! I do my best not to fall below 1,200 calories but sometimes I’m eating cheese sticks before bed just to make sure I’m not below 1k. It’s so much the opposite of a low fat diet, where I feel like I have to eat 12 times a day and I’m still starving. I’m still doing the intermittent fasting 16:8, eating 2 meals per day. I love it. It works for my schedule and my body.

I’m feeling great. I think the most striking difference is the feeling of being on an even keel, all day long. I have no spikes or dips in energy or motivation – just ready to go at all times. Maybe this is what they mean by “mental clarity,” but I feel like I have an easier time coming to conclusions and making decisions and feeling confident in them. I’m a pretty rational person to begin with, but my brain feels like it is firing on all cylinders, all day long.

My sleep is excellent. This week’s sleep quality average was 96%, and the 2 days that were below were above 85%. That’s way better than my pre-keto average of 72%. It’s amazing to sleep so well. I discovered on Whole30 that sugar seems to have the most dramatic impact on my sleep. Keto is proving that to be true.

Here are some of the things I ate this week:

Headbanger's Kitchen Keto Peanut Butter Waffles

This is such a winner of a waffle recipe! I’ve made it a bunch of times already. It’s the peanut butter waffle from Headbanger’s Kitchen. I’m having it slathered in Kerrygold butter (I miss Ireland so much!), LightLife Smart Bacon (veggie), and sugar free maple syrup. The ingredient purists would avoid the sugar free maple syrup, but I’m not an ingredient purist. It fits my macros, doesn’t mess up my ketosis, and doesn’t make me feel bad. So I eat it. Yum.


Keto Connect Chocolate Gelato Style Ice Cream

Happy birthday to me! I’ve wanted an ice cream maker for a long time, and since I have trouble getting enough calories on keto, I thought – what better reason to add an ice cream dessert to my life?! (I can rationalize anything). I picked up this Cuisinart ice cream maker and made some keto-friendly ice cream! This recipe came from Keto Connect – chocolate gelato-style ice cream – but instead of manually freezing and stirring it, I chilled it then put it into the ice cream maker. It turned out AMAZING, though they call it 4 servings… in my world, it’s more like 2 servings. I’m definitely going to double or triple the recipe next time to keep more in the freezer!


Keto Connect Cauliflower Fried Rice

This was the surprise hit of the week: cauliflower fried rice. I don’t like cauliflower. I love the concept of cauliflower – a neutral-tasting, good-for-you vegetable that can turn into many things, but I’ve tried many of the many things, with mediocre to disgusting results. You name it – cauliflower buffalo wings, fried cauliflower nuggets, etc. I did not have high hopes for this dish, but I’ve also always thought in my head that I must be doing it wrong. So I bought a head of cauliflower and tried it. The recipe is the Keto Connect Cauliflower Fried Rice, and I added in some red peppers.

It is delicious. I’m still working on the leftovers (it makes 4 good-sized servings). I’m shocked, to be honest. If I close my eyes, I can’t even tell that it’s not rice. The flavor is spot-on (even though I didn’t have any sesame oil handy). The texture is only slightly less firm than rice, and that’s probably because I over-processed the cauliflower. I’ll process it in smaller batches next time. It definitely hit the take-out craving.

My other meals were repeats – Keto Connect overnight hemp-oats (the peanut butter version), Keto Connect Chicago-style deep dish pizza (homage to my roots for my birthday!), and tacos with cheese shells (and taco salads with the leftover meat). I need to get a second mini cast iron skillet so I can make 2 pizzas at a time. It’s a super-easy recipe and most of the cook time is down time in the oven, but for that time investment I’d still like to get more than 1 meal out of it.

There’s my week in a nutshell! So far, so good.

Keto Vegetarian: Week 2

Week  2 –
Weight lost: 3.6 pounds (Total: 9.6 pounds)
Inches lost (waist): 1/4″ (Total: 1.0″)
Inches lost (neck): 1/4″ (Total: 1/4″)

Week 2 went well! Keto makes intermittent fasting really easy because I don’t get hungry. My problem now is that I’m not eating enough calories every day! I basically need to add a snack in somewhere, because most days I’m falling about 300 calories short, and 1200-1300 is way too low for me (at least at this weight). I’m too full to eat anything more with dinner, so it’s going to have to be a snack somewhere in between meals when I’m not full anymore.

I’ve had several more days over 95% sleep quality, so that continues to improve. I’m up to 17 squats per day if I break them up 12 in the morning, 5 at night. I’ll keep adding them at night to build up.

Here are some of my meals. I’m still getting most of my recipes from Keto Connect and Headbanger’s Kitchen. They’ve all been winners so far!

The cheese taco shell assembly line:

Cheese taco shell assembly line


Keto Connect overnight (no-) oatmeal – peanut butter, chia seeds, hemp hearts, and heavy cream. And a glazed protein donut. Nom.

Keto Connect peanut butter (no-)oatmeal and chocolate glazed protein donut


Zucchini fritters, macadamia nuts, and a half avocado stuffed with Beyond Meat veg chicken strips in garlic parmesan sauce.

Zucchini fritters, macadamia nuts, and avocado stuffed with Beyond Meat chicken strips in garlic parmesan sauce


Yep… I made the Keto Connect Chicago-style pizza again… cheese only this time. OK fine, I made it 3 times this week.

Keto Connect Chicago style deep dish pizza


Beyond Meat Beast Burger on the Ultimate Keto Buns, with munster cheese and lettuce and mayo and a smidge of ketchup, with Greek yogurt and raspberries for dessert.

Vegetarian Beyond Meat Beast Burger with the Ultimate Keto Buns, Greek yogurt and raspberries


Last week’s leftover taco stuff became taco salad. This week, I made enough cheese shells for all of the meals. 🙂

Vegetarian keto taco salad

So tasty!

Keto Vegetarian: Week 1

Week  1 –
Weight lost: 6 pounds (Total: 6 pounds)
Inches lost (waist): 3/4″ (Total: 3/4″)

So, I’m a week into eating keto vegetarian, and am as happy as can be. I forgot to weigh in today, but according to yesterday’s numbers, I was down 6 pounds and lost 3/4 inch in my waist. I would’ve said the 6 pounds was all water, but I carry a majority of my body fat in my stomach and to see my waist shrink in the span of 6 days… I think there’s some fat going buh-bye, too.

I’m having no trouble at all with the intermittent fasting, I think in part because eating high fat is so satiating that I don’t feel hungry until it’s time to eat. It’s also very convenient planning around eating twice a day. I have green tea in the morning, and that jump starts my day until lunch.

According to my Sleep Cycle app, 3 of the past 6 nights have been above 90% sleep quality, with 2 of those at 99%. I haven’t had sleep that good since June (and it was short-lived: after the last semester had ended, but before all of my study-abroad teaching and conference travel began). It’s so nice to SLEEP! I suspected after Whole30 that sugar negatively impacts my sleep, and considering I’m still drinking tea practically up until bedtime now, I’m convinced it is indeed sugar and not caffeine that causes my sleep disturbances.

I think my electrolytes are back in check. The daily potassium and magnesium vitamins seem to be doing the trick. (Speaking of potassium, my avocados STILL aren’t ripe!! I bought them a week ago!)

My initial getting-back-to-working-out plan was to do squats every day. The first day, I did 5 (because they were bothering my knee). The second day, my knee wasn’t so bad and I did 10. Then I thought I’d get clever and add 2 every day, so the third day I did 12… and then I was so sore the next day that I was walking like a penguin, so I took a couple days off. I think that’s my initial plan, though: sets of squats, slowly increasing the count. Same with planks.

I’ve been super inspired by the Headbanger’s Kitchen and Keto Connect channels on YouTube, and the KetoDiet blog. Here are some of the things I’ve been making (and eating!)

Headbanger's Kitchen peanut butter waffle with cinnamon cream cheese and Kerrygold butter

Headbanger’s Kitchen peanut butter waffle with cinnamon cream cheese and Kerrygold butter


Peanut butter chocolate fat bombs

Peanut butter chocolate fat bombs


Cheese taco shells and Beyond Meat beefy crumbles with Lightlife Chorizo tacos

Cheese taco shells and Beyond Meat beefy crumbles with Lightlife Chorizo tacos


Keto Connect Chicago Style Pizza - Vegetarian Keto Connect Chicago Style Pizza - Vegetarian

Keto Connect Chicago Style Pizza - Vegetarian

Keto Connect Chicago Style Pizza – Vegetarian

All I can say is… amazing, right?! How is this diet food?! It’s not. It’s healthy food that is fueling me to burn more fat than ever before. These are all instant hits and new favorites. Don’t be surprised if next week is these meals all over again. (I also had a squash and pesto fathead pizza but didn’t get a picture).

I also made a delicious cream of asparagus soup that I need to hurry up and finish the leftovers of!

That’s what week 1 looked like. See ya next week!

Keep Calm and Keto On

I’m Going Keto

I’ve decided to begin a ketogenic diet. Actually, today is day 4. I’m phlyersphan on MyFitnessPal if you’d like to follow along!

What is keto, you ask? It’s basically a low-carb, moderate protein,  high fat diet that maintains the body’s metabolism in a state of nutritional ketosis, burning primarily fat for fuel instead of glucose, keeping blood sugar low. (This is NOT the same as diabetic ketoacidosis, which happens when both ketone levels AND blood sugar are elevated). I won’t get into the nitty gritty here; to learn more, check out this Beginner’s Guide to the Ketogenic Diet.

Low-carb diets aren’t new. The Atkins diet started out in the 70s (and may or may not be ketogenic, depending how you do it). Likewise, I’m not new to low-carb diets. Many years ago (I did the math… 2003-ish? maybe 14 years ago?), I did the Atkins diet for 9 months, and it worked really well for me. I lost 45 pounds without much effort and no additional exercise, and I enjoyed eating that way. At the time, I still ate meat, but after more than 9 months of success on the diet, I suddenly started having bizarre symptoms – the inability to think straight, disruption of my menstrual cycle (even though I was on the pill), and a few other things that seriously alarmed me. I attributed them to the low-carb diet because when I went back to eating carbs, everything cleared up. In retrospect, I think I was suffering nutritional deficits and electrolyte imbalances because I was a junk-food low-carb eater. I grew up on convenience foods and fast foods, and didn’t start cooking and eating vegetables and whole foods until several years later (when I went vegetarian). I don’t think low-carb was to blame for my symptoms.

Why am I doing keto? I started thinking about my experience with Whole30. I enjoyed the Whole30 plan. The lack of protein options for vegetarians got old fast, but the improvement in my sleep in particular convinced me that there’s something to cutting sugar. I’m also starting to feel like invisible evils like inflammation are coming to get me and aging my body, and it’s mildly terrifying. I’d jokingly say that as soon as I turned 40, everything started going downhill with aches and pains for no apparent reason, but I know it’s more due to years of neglect and yo-yo dieting – metabolic abuse, essentially. My life has revolved around inflammatory foods, for the most part. If I want this body to look and feel any younger than its age, I’ve got to kick it into gear and stop the abuse.

The Whole30 diet was low-carb and paleo, and the paleo part is where it’s tough to be a vegetarian on the plan. I had to break a bunch of rules to modify the Whole30 for a vegetarian approach, and there weren’t many protein options besides eggs (since dairy is disallowed). The keto diet seems expansive to me, compared to Whole30!

While my primary desires from this are to keep my blood pressure in check and reduce overall inflammation, I’d also like to lose weight. My weight goes hand in hand with my blood pressure, as I’ve got a point where it’s like flipping a switch; one pound above, and my bp is 140/90. One pound below, and I’m back to 105/65. (My blood pressure is naturally on the low end of normal, even when I’m overweight, until I hit that switch-flip weight). My bp is still fine right now, but I’m closer to the danger zone than I’d like to be. Granted, my danger zone is “pre-hypertension,” but I don’t want ANY kind of hypertension, considering my blood pressure has been on the low side my entire life.

I don’t expect to lose 100 pounds like my last serious weight loss effort (which was based on calorie counting and running half marathons), but I’d like to drop a couple sizes. I’m calorie counting on keto via my macros, but I do not have the time nor the inclination to get back to running in the hilly Shenandoah Valley. I said RIP to running when I left the flat lands of suburban Chicago. I do plan to do some DIY weight training, as I really enjoyed the weight lifting component of Crossfit and miss it. Someday I’ll formalize my training and go back to the gym membership and personal trainer, but for now, my budget doesn’t allow it, and I’ve got enough weight to lose that I can sufficiently DIY it until I plateau and need professional guidance.

I’m combining the keto diet with an 8-16 intermittent fasting approach (eat within an 8 hour window each day, and fast for 16 hours). The fasting isn’t much of a change from how I normally eat. Typically, I eat 2 meals per day. I don’t “skip” breakfast (I guess I do brunch!), but my stomach can’t really take food right away upon waking up. So I usually don’t eat until a few hours after I get up. Then I go to work or whatever, and then come home and have dinner. Without dieting, I was probably fasting on average 12-14 hours, so 16 isn’t much of a change. I’m structuring it so that I eat between 1pm and 9pm each day.

I take a multivitamin (the same one I’ve been taking daily for a few years now – Mega Foods Women’s Daily 40+) and am also supplementing with magnesium and potassium, 2 things that some people run low on doing a ketogenic diet. I learned something new as I was researching keto – that my little heart palpitations that my doctor said are of no concern (after an EKG) are probably caused by an electrolyte imbalance. Two days into keto, I had a palpitation, and then got foot cramps that night. I had read that the fluttery-heart can be caused by an electrolyte imbalance. I ate some avocado and took a magnesium and a potassium the next morning, and voila. Back to normal. So I will keep on taking the magnesium and potassium as well. I need to get a pill-form B12 because I have been in love with cherry flavored B12 gummy vitamins, and since they’re full of sugar, they’re off the table. (Most vegetarians need to supplement B12, because it primarily occurs in meat. It used to also come from trace minerals in the soil from fruits and vegetables, but we grow food in such depleted soil these days that it’s not an adequate source of B12 anymore).

I’m shooting for macro targets of 25g net carbs (carbs minus fiber), 125g fat, and 75g protein – approximately 1,525 calories per day. On previous calorie counting diets, I tended to do well around 1,600 calories per day (1,800 when I was running 20+ miles per week). So while this is slightly lower in calories, I wanted macro numbers that were easier to remember, because my approach is to hit my macros. Hitting the net carb macro is priority #1 (since low-carb keeps you in ketosis), followed by fat (since fat is the primary fuel while in ketosis), followed by protein (since it’s important to avoid muscle loss – though too much protein can kick you out of ketosis or result in gluconeogenesis, when the body converts excess protein to glycogen that can be used as glucose. We want to be burning primarily fat, not glucose). If I hit my macros, the calorie count will follow.

I’m curious to see if keto cures my vertigo. I have positional vertigo (usually only happens when I’m laying down, and comes and goes for a few weeks to a few months at a time, a few times a year). Years ago I tried medication for it (though the doctor didn’t do any tests – just took my word and prescribed something… can’t remember what), and the medication made me feel so awful that I went off of it quickly. Since I spend my days primarily upright, the vertigo is usually only an issue when I’m trying to sleep. It’s something I’m definitely keeping my eyes on. A couple weeks ago, a new round of vertigo started – just a minor bout this time. We’ll see if keto impacts it or makes it go away. It seems irrelevant (as vertigo is an inner ear thing), but I’m finding some indications that blood sugar and electrolytes can impact dizziness. Maybe my vertigo isn’t vertigo at all. While finding a solution would be awesome, I’d also be kind of pissed, since I’ve had the dizziness issue for the past 25 years…. and all I needed was to eat right?! We’ll see.

So far (4 days in), I’m finding that keto foods play nice with the things I like to eat. The fathead pizza crust recipe I discovered on Whole30 is back with a vengeance, and eating everything with glorious butter and cheese is out of this world for my taste buds. Today I made the Ultimate Keto Buns and they’re so good, I am in (veggie) burger bliss. The Beyond Meat plant-based proteins are fine for keto! And they’re the best faux-meats I’ve ever tried, so much so that sometimes they scare me a little… like, did they accidentally put a cow in here? Because it tastes like it… I also tried these 2-minute keto buns in a mug which – while a little eggy – weren’t bad at all and will do when I don’t have time to make a batch of buns.

By day 3, I was in ketosis (and confirmed via urine testing strips). That third day, I started to feel a little crappy for about an hour and a half – just long enough to think, “Here it comes… the keto flu.” I planned to hit ketosis going into the weekend so if I did feel like crap, at least I could stay home. But as soon as I thought the keto flu was setting in, it went away and I’ve felt great ever since. No hunger to speak of, and no trouble with fasting.

No complaints so far! While the first week will surely include some water weight loss, I’m down 3# as of yesterday. Here we go…


Keep calm photo: