Posts in Starting Out
5 Ways to Stick to a Goal

I pride myself on this being a weight loss/food blog, but this post can be for anyone! Goal setting is tough stuff!  Even tougher than setting the goal, is reaching that goal and pressing on to new ones! Probably the hardest part of staying on a new diet is setting attainable goals and sticking with it! If you're like me, you've started and stopped a thousand times.  You get sick of seeing that person staring back at you in the mirror, and you decide you're back to counting calories, or you're only eating vegetables.  

Counting calories and eating vegetables is very important; however, restricting yourself THAT much can lead to a quick fade of motivation.  Every time I got about two weeks in, I'd get hungry and go right back to eating junk.  So what changed for me?

A lot of people ask me this question, and I go into a bit of depth in my "why" post; but for the most part, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I'm almost forty and I can't tell you how many times doctors would tell me that I was tired because I was overweight.  I never wanted that to be true, but sadly, it was.  Even with a thyroid disease, my overweight body was making life harder and harder.

So what changed this time? 

My goals.

I decided that setting goals would be the best way to mark my progress and keep me accountable to reaching my end goal of weight loss.  But that's where my past mistakes come back to haunt me.  I couldn't just set a goal of losing weight and be able to achieve it.  It's important to set SMART goals.

1. SMART Goals

Many of you have probably read about SMART goals if you've taken any college workshop or tried to be more organized.  I didn't believe this method at first, but I can tell you that I am now a true believer. S.M.A.R.T. stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.  I will make a separate post breaking these down even more, but I wanted to highlight a few points.

Specific Goals - it's easy for us to throw out there, "I want to lose weight" or "I want to save money", but the truth is losing weight isn't our specific goal.  By saying I want to lose weight, you aren't giving yourself a goal, you're making a statement that you will/won't be able to back up.  Instead, say to yourself, "I want to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year." Give yourself a specific goal and set a timeline!

Measurable Goals - setting measurable goals allows you to visually SEE the results.  Some people may find that setting a goal of losing 20 pounds by the end of the year is too much of a broad goal.  Let's break it down even more.  How are you going to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year? I'm going to set a goal to measure myself once a week, and weight myself once every other week.  Set a day/time for that to happen.  Write down your results.  These are all ways you can measure your success on your path to reaching that goal.

Achievable Goals - this is another point that people get locked up on.  If I set the goal for myself to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year, and it's the last week of December...well, that's not an achievable goal.  Not one that is healthy or realistic anyway.  Make sure you are being realistic in setting your goals.  

Relevant Goals - Make sure you are in a place in your life in which this is relevant to what you want/need.  You are not going to achieve your goal if it's not important to YOU.  Setting a goal of losing 20 pounds is all great and wonderful, but if you're not willing to give up the junk food, you may find that you're not in a place in which its possible to lose weight...we'll talk more about that in a bit.

Timely Goals - Finally, setting goals that have a timeline are SUPER important.  As I mentioned above, just saying you want to lose 20 pounds isn't always going to set you up to succeed.  You need to be able to put a timeline to your goals so that you can track your success.

2. Visual Aids

I'm a sucker for visual aids.  Whether it is a list that I've created, motivational stickers that I've found on Pinterest, or just tracking my progress; I've found these visual aids have helped to keep me on track in meeting my goals.  

Using goal trackers can be a very helpful tool in reaching your goals.  For me, I used MyFitnessPal for daily food tracking for the first six months or so of my journey.  It helped for me to be able to track all of my macros and to see exactly what I was putting in my mouth.  I also tracked every pound/inch I lost or gained over time...I still use it for that matter.

Don't just track the losses!  This is so very important!!  It is so important to track your days in which you gain weight too.  This is important because you want to be able to see the downward trend.  I've shared before that my weight loss was not a constant downward slope...it was very much up and down, but with a downward trend, and that trend is what you want to see.  THAT is what will keep you motivated to stick with it! 

Don't just use the scale!  Using the scale to measure success on any way of eating isn't just ineffective, its downright dangerous.  You do not want to become a slave to your scale and worry about every bite that goes into your mouth and how it affects that number...this is a dangerous precursor to an eating disability.  

The scale is a tool to monitor weight loss, but it is not the end-all-be-all to success.  Monitor your progress in other ways as well...measure your body, take progress pictures, watch your clothing size drop, notice how much better you feel physically... All of these are great ways to monitor your success without using a scale.  Speaking from personal experience, there has been several times now that the scale number goes UP, but my body has shown significant changes for the better.

3. Reward Yourself

Now I know what you're thinking.  Pre-Keto Stephanie often would reward herself with food.  It was an easy reward that was very satisfying for a time.  I'm here to tell you...there are BETTER ways of rewarding yourself for good behavior and good habits, then feeding the beast!

Workout Gear.  I like to reward myself for hard work by buying myself something that I'll be able to do MORE hard work in.  It took me almost 40 pounds before I figured this out, and I was so excited when I realized how good it felt to do pilates without having to pull my too big yoga pants up all the time.  It was after my 50 pound loss that I finally bought a new sports bra...it's like a whole different workout experience!  Reward the hard work with more hard work!

New Shoes! Nothing shows off those newly toned calves than a new pair of pumps!  Show that hard work off!!  Or...go with what we just mentioned and purchase yourself a new pair of running shoes!! I'll always work hard for a good pair of shoes! 

Pay Yourself. Set up a jar to put money in.  Every time you hit a weight loss goal, whether it be in pounds or inches, drop some money in your jar!  Once you hit your end goal, use that money to buy a new wardrobe! 

4. Remember Your Influence

This is a touchy one.  I'm very much a person who wants to influence others in a positive way.  I knew that I would not be able to accomplish these goals of mine on my own, so I made sure that the people closest to me knew of my goals so that I would be held accountable to them.  After a few weeks, it got hard again...really hard.  But this time I did something different...I created an accountability group for my friends and I.  This accountability group is on FB and now is over 900 members, most of whom I've never even met.

You may not need others to see your successes like I do, but you do need to remember those who are in your area of influence.  Your kids, your closest friends, your relatives...with the obesity rate as high as it is right now, there is someone you love who could use your encouragement and motivation. Helping others is a great way to help yourself too.  It's much harder to give up on a goal if you know others are watching you for success.

5. Non-Scale Victories

This one is SOOOOOO important for hitting your overall goal of weight loss!  As I mentioned above, you don't want to use that bathroom scale as your only measure of success! It is super important that you find other ways to track your weight loss, and keep those at the forefront of your mind when evaluating your success.

Take measurements. I know I've already mentioned this before, but this is something that you NEED to do!  It's something that I didn't do in the beginning and I completely regret it.  By measuring yourself weekly, you will be able to notice that your body composition is changing while the scale may/may not move.  Track these changes!  Just like on the scale, they may go up and down, but as long as the trend is downward, use that as your motivation to KEEP GOING!

Take pictures. This is also something I didn't do much of in the beginning and I wish I had.  Get someone to take some before pictures of yourself.  Selfies don't do it justice, so get your spouse or a close friend to do it for you.  Take pictures monthly so that you can see your body change over time.  If you're comfortable enough, share them with your accountability partners!  This keeps others motivated as well...AND sometimes they'll see a drastic change even when you don't!

Clothing.  You don't have to track this, but make mental notes when you notice it.  The best motivation to keep going for me, was going into a store and trying on clothes in my current size only to find that it was too big!  As you start losing weight, take a few different sizes into the dressing room with you...it's such a great feeling when you find yourself in a size or two lower than you first thought!  Also, play around with different styles that you may not be used to!  Your body is changing, have fun with it!

No more pain! Probably the best part of Keto for me has been the fact that I don't ache as much as I used to.  If you like to journal, make note of this!  When things get hard, it helps to go back and read about how great you feel!  If you don't journal, you can still track this in your phone or weight loss tracker app!  

 

 

So share with me!  What have you found that helps you stick to your goals? Do you have an accountability partner/group?  What are some goals you've set for yourself?

Keeping it Keto,

Stephanie

Total Carbs vs. Net Carbs

I often get the question from people who are new to Keto the difference between counting total carbs and counting net carbs. 

This is a topic that is widely debated in Keto circles, so for a lot of people it’s up to personal preference.  People who want to be a bit stricter for health purposes find that counting TOTAL carbs works best for them.

However, if you are new to Keto, I highly suggest you start off by counting Net Carbs.  The reason is simple.  

You need to know exactly what you are putting in your body.  By counting Net Carbs, you are actively paying attention to the amount of Dietary Fiber, Sugar, and Sugar Alcohols that you put into your body. This is an important aspect to Keto that you really need to pay attention to when you first start out.

A lot of companies sneak sugars into their foods for flavor purposes and if you don’t know what to look for, it can be very confusing.  They may call it something different besides sugar, or you may have a sugar alcohol that isn’t keto at all!  Xylitol, Erithrytol, and Stevia are all Keto friendly.  Maltodextrin, Sucralose, and anything glucose related are NOT.  Educate yourself on the difference and pay attention to the keto friendly ones when you consume them.  Sometimes even though they don’t kick one person out of ketosis, they may have a different effect on you.

For me, it is a personal preference that I count Net Carbs and keep those under 20 grams of carbs per day. I try to only use Stevia in my recipes. 

So, how do you calculate Net Carbs?  

It’s so easy!!  All it takes is some simple math!  I know…math is a bad word for some, but seriously…so easy.

You take the total carbs on the nutrition facts label and subtract the dietary fiber.

Voila! You have net carbs!

There are a couple of instances in which you’ll need to do a bit more math.  If the item you’re eating has any sugar alcohols in it, then you will need to subtract half of that number.  NOTE: If you buy something from a store that advertises how many net carbs it contains, be aware that they subtract ALL sugar alcohols.  This is also debated in Keto circles as to how to subtract these.

Personally, I choose to subtract half because that way I can make sure not to go over my carb intake in other areas.  Keto baked goods and treats are not something you want to overeat.  They’re typically higher in carbs anyway, and I’d prefer to use those carbs in my vegetables.

 Calculating net carbs is easy!  Subtract any dietary grams of fiber from the total grams of carbs and you have your net grams of carbs!

Calculating net carbs is easy!  Subtract any dietary grams of fiber from the total grams of carbs and you have your net grams of carbs!

It's that simple!  Still have questions?  Leave me a comment and I'll be happy to answer!

Until then, let's keep it keto!

Stephanie

Motivational Monday: Stronger than your cravings
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How many times have you started and stopped a diet?  Take a second and think about it.  Once? Twice?  Ten Times? Who are we kidding?  If you’re like me, you’ve started a diet and stopped it more times than you can count.

I want to start offering some motivation to all of us out there who are taking the one millionth try to get their nutrition in order.

Guess what?

It doesn’t matter how many times you have fallen off the wagon.  What matters is that you get up, dust yourself off and keep going.

While it’s easy to READ this, it’s much more difficult to apply it.  Why must dieting be so hard?

Dieting is hard because we are training our bodies to go against what we’ve been doing for decades.  We’ve taught our bodies to crave sugars and carbs, so of course its going to be hard to train our bodies differently.  But…if you can make it through a month of hard, it becomes so much easier.

On our Facebook page, so many ask about replacing sweets.  I try and encourage everyone to not try and replace sweets for cravings within the first month of Keto.  The reason is, you’re not retraining your body this way.  You’re simply placating an addiction instead of overcoming it.

If I can offer you any encouragement it’s this…you are stronger than your cravings.

Think of the hardest thing you’ve gone through.  You made it through.  If you can make it through THAT, your cravings are nothing. 

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So…I’m not going to just offer motivation without giving you some things to arm yourself with in the war against cravings.

 

1.     Get all of the junk food out of your house.  By keeping the junk food in your house, you’re bound to cave at least once.  It’s much harder to cave to your cravings if you don’t have those temptations sitting in your pantry.

If you’re like me and have kids who still eat carbs, then that may be a bit more difficult.  Something I did was to keep all of my food in the fridge.  The good part of eating Keto is you’re eating lots of fresh veggies and meats so I didn’t go into our pantry hardly at all.  When I did it was to get pork rinds or almonds, both of which I kept in a basket of JUST my Keto foods.  I’d fill my evening meal with fat so that I wasn’t hungry.  I quickly realized my nightly grazing was out of boredom…not hunger.

2.     Arm yourself with options.  I always make sure to have some flavored waters or almonds on hand.  Many cravings can be lessened just by eating something else.  For example, if I am craving chocolate, I’ll eat almonds…if I want something crunchy, then I’ll eat some pork rinds.  Also, lots and lots of water.  Most of the time we crave foods when we’re dehydrated.  Another great substitute for chocolate cravings is avocado.  Upping your fats will keep you full, therefore not hungry.

3.     Brush your teeth.  This may seem really simple and silly, but who wants to eat after you brush your teeth?  Please note that if you are HUNGRY, eat something!  There are plenty of foods you CAN eat, why be hungry? 

 

I hope this helps.  The first week or two of Keto (or any diet really) can be very difficult adapting.  Why not make it easier on yourself? Leave me a comment and tell us what you struggled with when you first started Keto?  What got you through the cravings?  How do you deal with them now?

 

You are stronger than your cravings. 

 

So let’s keep it Keto!

 

Stephanie

What Can I Eat?
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As a mom of three boys, this question is often thrown around my house. As soon as they come home from school, “What’s to eat?” After soccer practice, “What’s to eat?”  When their friends come over, well, you get the idea.

Since starting Keto, I now get this question from just about everyone.  After getting complimented on how much weight I’ve lost, their next question is asking how I do it.  Once I explain that I did it through a lot of work by cutting out carbs and exercising, I get that scoff of “Oh I could never do that.” Or, “I’m terrible at dieting…I am always hungry.”

Except, with keto, I’m rarely hungry.  This has probably been the most food inclusive “diet” I’ve ever been on, and I’ve been on a lot.

So that brings me to this post! What’s to Eat?

Well, there are lots of things to eat with Keto!!

MEATS!

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The key to eating meat on the Keto diet is to remember that FAT IS GOOD! A nice marbled ribeye is not only delicious, but SO GOOD FOR YOU! Enjoy that night out with your significant other by enjoying a nice juicy steak without the potato! We all know that’s just there to fill you up anyway.  Enjoy that steak!

You can enjoy just about any meat with Keto! Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Veal!  Some of my favorite snacks when I need something on the go are pepperoni or summer sausage! And EGGS!!  While not a meat, they’re packed with protein and are a great asset to the Keto diet!

FISH AND SEAFOOD!

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We are HUGE seafood lovers in my house.  Thankfully living in Florida we get to enjoy some of the tastiest seafood on the east coast! Eating Keto means we don’t have to miss out on some delicious salmon or giant crab legs (and we get to enjoy the clarified butter with it)! Not only is seafood good for you, but you get some super healthy fats in the process.

Enjoy a nice salmon steak, some shrimp or scallops, or even a nice, juicy lobster tail! Just a small word of caution if you’re buying things frozen or prepackaged.  Always, ALWAYS check the nutritional information.  Some seafood may be overly processed and may contain fillers which means hidden carbs!

VEGETABLES!

 

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As soon as I mention that you shouldn’t eat carrots or potatoes on Keto, I get a total side eye and a lecture about how you need vegetables in order to get nutrients and any diet that cuts out vegetables isn’t good for you.  Whooooaaaa…hold your horses.

In fact, it is INCREDIBLY important for you to eat your veggies while on the Keto diet. The few carbs that you eat every day should be made up of these nutritious veggies, as with everything else, in moderation.

While eating any veggies that grow underground are considered non-Keto foods (carrots, onions, potatoes, and corn…yes, I know it grows on a stalk, but still a no-no), here is a list of the plethora of veggies that ARE ok!

Salad Greens – my rule, if it’s green…EAT IT!
Artichokes
Arugula
Asparagus
Bok choi
Broccoli
Brussel Sprouts
Bamboo shoots
Bean Sprouts
Cabbage (all varieties)
Cauliflower
Celery
Celery Root
Chard
Chives
Cucumber
Eggplant
Endive
Green Beans
Greens: Collards, Mustard, Turnip, etc
Jicama
Kale
Lettuce: again…if it’s green…
Mushrooms
Okra (not fried…sadly…but I’m sure you could find a keto friendly recipe!)
Parsley
Pepper
Pumpkin
Snow Peas
Spinach
Sprouts
Sugar Snap Peas
Summer Squash
Radicchio
Radishes
Scallions (spring onion)
Tomatoes
Turnip
Watercress
Zucchini

How is THAT for a list of what you CAN eat!! As I mentioned before, just make sure you’re watching portions and carb count so that you’re not eating them in other ways!  Best way to get your daily allotment of carbs is through vegetables!

To get even more bang for your buck so to speak, is to enjoy some of these fattier vegetables: black or green olives (don’t overdo these…max of 6 per day) and/or avocado!

CHEESE!

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Who doesn’t love cheese?  Cheeses are a great way to get your daily fat intake up.  Swiss, Cheddar, Brie, Mozzarella, Gruyere, Goat, and so many others, are fantastic ways of getting some fat into your diet.  This fat will help make you feel more full throughout the day!

Keep in mind that if you had dairy issues prior to Keto, they may still be an issue now.  Also, some people who find themselves at a stall for a few weeks to a month will try to eliminate dairy from their diet in order to break that stall.

Along with cheeses, creams including heavy whipping cream and sour cream are also ok.  Avoid half and half as well as condensed or evaporated milk.

 

Stay tuned for another post that will include what snacks and fruits are ok!  I hope you enjoyed this! What is your favorite Keto food right now?

Keeping it Keto,

Steph

Eat This List
My Keto Story

Starting Point

I came by way of Keto thanks to my best friend Missy. You'll probably read about her a lot here on this blog as we have a lot of fun experimenting with recipes and encouraging new Keto people on their journeys. 

Several years ago we had an accountability agreement through a whole foods based way of eating.  We knew that as long as we held each other accountable and did it together we’d be successful.  Well, skip ahead 6 months and life just got in the way.  No time to devote to exercise, no time for meal prepping, no time for ME. 

About a year later I had gained 10 of the 20 pounds I had lost and was starting to fall back into my sluggish lifestyle.  She and I both struggle with our weight and have had these issues for most of our lives. 

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Enter Keto.

Missy decided to start this  new “diet” and, while I remained encouraging, I never joined in.  I would sit and eat fried chicken, while she enjoyed a huge piece of fish and a side of broccoli. I would eat mozzarella sticks while she’d have a nice, juicy steak!  I couldn’t believe that she was able to lose weight with what she was eating AND that it was coming off so fast.

About 4-5 months after she started Keto, I decided to jump on the bandwagon.  Five months later we're both down 40+ pounds…and still going.  This way of eating has come so naturally to both of us that we often joke about the fact that we're not really on a "diet" at all. Which is actually the truth...who knew changing your lifestyle and incorporating exercise would actually WORK!? 

So what changed this time?

There’s something to say for noticeable changes and easy recipes which is my main motivation for sharing this blog with the world.  For the first time I'm able to see noticeable changes in a rather short amount of time simply by changing my eating habits.  On top of that, these eating habits cause me to remain FULL to the point that I never feel deprived.

When I was doing Whole 30, I felt great.  I had energy, I didn’t feel sludgy inside...except for one thing…I felt hungry.  All.the.time.

I would read the blogs.  I would look up recipes on Pinterest.  Everything told me that I needed to increase the amount of “healthy” carbs in order to feel full.  But yet, no matter how many "healthy" carbs I ate, I was still always hungry.  I'd eat 6-8 times a day just to keep satisfied.  As a mother of three and a wife, this became increasingly difficult to maintain.

This post isn’t about bashing Whole 30.  As a matter of fact, I really enjoyed that way of eating.  I have a love for all things fresh.

But it wasn’t sustainable for ME.

You see?  I’m a carb addict.

Even though I was eating fruit and whole grains, the carbs made me crave MORE.  And there’s something about that nasty crave beast that makes it impossible to resist…am I right?  I am an addict.

No, I haven’t been diagnosed.  No I’m not clinically admitting my addiction.  And no way am I making light of addictions overall.  I can see by my desire to self-destruct, that I was, and am, in fact a sugar addict.

So again you ask, what changed this time?

The only thing that changed this time…is my mind.

I changed my mind

I decided that I would no longer allow sugar to control my body, but that my body would control the sugar. I went from craving things that were bad for me, to realizing that I was stronger than those cravings.  I can now look at a tray of brownies and tell myself that they are poison to my body.  Besides, I know that there are many more options that are keto friendly that allow me to get the benefit of a brownie without sacrificing my hard work and my health.

While it’s easy to say this, I can tell you living it is so much harder. But…I’m writing this today to tell you that YOU CAN DO THIS.  

If I can do it...so can you.

 Christmas 2016 Before Pic (almost 200 pounds)

Christmas 2016
Before Pic (almost 200 pounds)

March 2018 down 40 pounds and counting

Keeping it Keto,

Stephanie