Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Newest Changes

I can't believe I've made the journey from 3 cream & 3 sugar in my coffee to completely black! Today is day 3 and I'm starting to like it... Also, the flax muffin in a minute (MIM) has been such a blessing. It provides bread & buns without any wheat gluten and gives me a fair amount of fiber that I wouldn't be getting otherwise. One night while I was at East Side Mario's, I was inspired and asked for my side veggies to be tossed in alfredo sauce. MMMMMMM! What inspiration!

Where else is this journey going to take me I wonder? Looking back at all the changes I've made in the last little while just floors me! I can hardly believe that I'm the same person! I don't regret my life up to now but I wish I had known how healthy this way of life would make me feel - I would have adhered to it much sooner! I'm discovering that more and more options are opening up to me... How do you decide what to do when there are soooo many options? LOL

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Master List

The Master List



oysters and mussels are higher in carbs than other shellfish, so eat no more than 4oz/day
Processed meats such as lunch meat, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs may be sugar-cured or full of fillers
avoid meat and fish with nitrates - known carcinogens
beware of imitation crab, mock chicken, fish sticks, all breaded foods
do not consume more than 4oz of organ meats/day


Cheese: 3-4oz/day

All cheese contains a little carbohydrate so you want to limit your intake - no to mention the constipating effect it has. All cheese must be aged, full fat, not processed and cannot be ricotta, cottage or other fresh cheese.

Cream: 2-4oz (4tbsp to 1/2 cup) regular cream or sour cream

Salad Veggies: 2-3 cups/day

Cooked Veggies: 1 cup per day (measured after cooking)

artichoke artichoke hearts asparagus bamboo shoots
bean sprouts beet greens bok choy broccoli
broccoli rabe (aka broccolini) brussels sprouts cabbage
cauliflower celery root chard collard greens
dandelion greens eggplant hearts of palm kale
kohlrabi leeks okra pumpkin
rhubarb sauerkraut snow peas spaghetti squash
string/wax beans summer squash tomato turnips
water chestnuts zucchini

crumbled crisp bacon - nitrate free
grated cheese (make sure you count this)
minced hard-boiled egg
sauteed mushrooms (add to veggie count)
herbs and spices

Salad Dressings
oil and vinegar
full fat salad dressings made without sugar or corn syrup (no more than 2g net carbs/serving)
balsamic vinegar is NOT allowed (contains added sugar)

caponata (eggplant relish)
mayonnaise (regular, not low-fat or Miracle Whip-type dressing)
yellow mustard (not honey mustard)
pickles (not sweet ones)
soy sauce (not with wheat)
tapanade (black olive puree)
worcestershire sauce
any other low carb sauces made without sugar such as sweet n sour or ketchup are acceptable (I buy “Blue Menu” low carb ketchup at Loblaw’s)
NOT allowed: BBQ sauce, regular ketchup, pickle relish, russian dressing, cranberry sauce
Also NOT allowed: any other sauce with added sugar, corn syrup, or flour, such as steak sauce, packaged gravies etc.

You may use any type of oil, preferrably cold-pressed or expeller-pressed. Olive oil or butter is preferred but you may use trans-fat free margarine

Artifical Sweetener
The words sugar-free, sugarless or no sugar added are not good enough.... read your nutrition labels

Be sure to drink a minimum of eight 8oz glasses of water a day. You are also allowed other beverages but not at the expense of drinking the water.

Special category foods
Each day you can also eat the following:

10-20 olives
1/2 a small avocado
2-3 tbsp lemon or lime juice (3g Net Carbs for 2 tbsps)
if you extend Induction, you can add 1oz of nuts/seeds

How Do I Get Started?

The first phase of the Atkins way of eating (WOE) is called Induction. Typically, it lasts only two weeks if you have 30 lbs or less to lose. However, if you’ve got more weight to lose you can extend that until you reach only 30 lbs left to lose. Completing it exactly as instructed is critical because you may not lose weight the way that you ought to, you may not feel well, you may conclude that Atkins doesn’t work and you might abandon the opportunity not having given it a fair chance. Consider this first two weeks as a time of complete commitment, during which you give yourself over to a new ways of eating with your heart and soul. Are you ready? Here are the “rules” you’ll need to help you on your way.

Do not skip meals! Eat either 3 regular-sized meals or 4-5 smaller meals throughout the day

Do not go more than 6 waking hours without eating something. This goes along with not skipping meals. Your body goes into starvation mode when you don’t eat so by providing a regular intake of food, your body begins to release fat stores it has been holding onto.

Eat enough protein. You can eat it in the form of poultry, shellfish, meat and eggs. You want to eat approx 6-8oz protein per meal or 18g/day. E.g. eggs for breakfast, a piece of grilled chicken breast at lunch and a baked pork chop or steak at dinner.

Eat liberal amouns of pure, natural fats. These include: real butter; real mayonnaise (not miracle whip); cream; oils; trans-fat free margarine (I use no-name Becel). Also, natural fats can be found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese & avocado.

Avoid all types of hydrogenated oils completely. These are found in shortening (like Crisco) and most other margarines. They are also in most packaged baked goods and should be eliminated from the diet permanently, anyway.

Eat no more than 20g of Net Carbs per day. Most of the 20g of carbs must come from salad greens and other veggies. How do I calculate those? Looking at the nutrition label on something - carb grams minus fibre grams = # net carbs. The fibre grams help the body not to “react” to the carbohydrate grams. The easy explanation is that fibre grams cancel out the effect of the carbs so you only count the carbs that aren’t cancelled out by the fibre grams.

Eat absolutely no fruit, regular bread, pasta, grains, starchy veggies, legumes, or anything made with flour or sugar in the initial stages of weight loss. I know it will be difficult to find things that fit into this rule but it can be done! Others before you have been able to do it with a little planning ahead of time.

Eat no dairy products other than cheese, butter or cream. I try to limit cream to the cream someone might put in their morning coffee or in a recipe such as crustless quiche.

Do not eat nuts or seeds in the first 2 weeks. If you choose to extend Induction, then you can add 1oz of nuts/seeds in week three. This means you can start to eat sugar/salt-free nut butters if you want.

Eat only the foods on the “Master List”.

Let your appetite be your guide. Eat when you’re hungry but stop as soon as you’re pleasantly full. The longer you stick with this plan - the less you’ll need to eat to feel full. I used to plan what I was having for my next meal and I wasn’t even done eating yet. Now, if I’m not careful - I actually FORGET to eat!

Have a small, low-carb snack if you are hungry between meals

If you’re not really that hungry at meal times, eat a small, low-carb snack with your vitamins.

Don’t just assume that any food is low-carb. Check the carbohydrate level on every package. Prime example - bacon can be maple-flavoured... ham can be basted in something that it isnt’ allowed

When you dine out, watch for hidden carbs! Flour, cornstarch, and sugar are often ingredients in gravies, sauces or dressings. Steer clear of lite/light dressings - they are loaded in sugar.

Count every packet of artifical sweetener as 1g of Net Carbs. We recommend Splenda (sucralose) to sweeten things as needed. Sweetener in diet pop counts too - 1g per can

Avoid caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, and soft drinks. I have a hard time with this one so I’ve cut back to 1 coffee to start my day & I’m down to 1 can of Diet Coke/week as a treat. Excessive amounts of caffeine can cause unstable blood sugar and make you crave sugar.

Drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water each day. It’s really not that much water when you eliminate the other things that you may have been drinking. 8oz is the smallest coffee cup that Tim Hortons offers. So, if you have a “big” glass of water - you’ve just had 2 of those. Sneak them in throughout the day & before you know it you’ll be craving MORE! Water flushes helps to flush things through including washing away the excess fat you no longer need to carry around with you in storage!

If you are constipated from decreased fibre intake - sugar-free remedies such as Benefibre or Metamucil are allowed

Take a good quality daily multivitamin - unless you are iron-deficient, it should not contain iron in your multivitamin

What Do I Tell People?

I usually tell people that I’m eliminating gluten from my diet because people generally “freak out” when they find out that I’m actually following a low-carb diet (Atkins). It is not actually the no-carbohydrate diet that they think that it is. You are still allowed to eat carbs but you have a small budget of how many a day you can eat & most of those are to come from veggies rather than grain-based things like breads, cereals, pasta, potato etc etc.

People generally say that this way of eating is so unhealthy but they don’t have anything to back those statements up! I have proof that this is the healthiest I have ever been in my entire life! Since I have been eating this way, my blood pressure has gone from 140/96 to 120/84!! I am eating more veggies & green stuff than I ever have... I make sure to complete at least an hour of exercise a day (in addition to every day movement)... I’m drinking more water than I used to drink Coke... My first ring at age 12 was a size 6... My wedding band I received on my wedding day was a somewhat tight-fitting size 7. Now, my new wedding band is a size 5 and it’s beginning to fit just nicely - not so loose that it will fall off. I’m starting to see how small my frame actually is and that the 145 lb goal for “ideal weight” is not so ridiculous now that I’ve gotten down a few pounds. When I reached my highest weight, I was 316 lbs! Even I couldn’t believe that I had let the weight get that far!

Don’t get me wrong - I tried numerous times to lose weight with little to no success. When I tried the low-fat diet, I actually put weight on! Now that I’ve done a little research, I can see that decreasing most of the sugar in my diet was the answer rather than a low-fat approach. When you start to read nutrition labels on things before you eat them, you will be shocked how much hidden sugars there are in supposed “health” foods. Look at the yogurt and berries parfaits that a lot of the quick-service restaurants are offering these days. 9/10 times the low-fat option is higher in sugar than a full-fat version of something & then they’re adding sugary-berries & carby granola to it. Now, that you’ve eaten your “healthy” snack - you’re starving like you haven’t eaten this week. The high-sugar “health” food spiked your insulin levels and now you could eat the place out of house and home!

Don’t believe me - look to my inspirations on my friends list - Jimmy Moore & Kent Altena! They have been great inspiration to what I have to look forward to! Both men have not only lost a huge amount of weight but they have chosen to bless others with their knowledge in their own way. Jimmy (livinlowcarbman) did videos for YouTube on the basics of low carb & keeps a low carb blog and Kent makes cooking videos on YouTube as well. If we can do this - so can you! Be encouraged! There is light at the end of the tunnel!

20lbs down - just by eliminating regular colas from my diet

There was a time when I used to think nothing of drinking a case (at that time it was a flat of 24) cans of Coca-Cola. In combination with the other garbage I was eating, drinking the liquid candy just packed on even more pounds! When I began to pay attention to the amount of sugar that I was eating/drinking, I felt more and more guilty about the sugar I was drinking. I couldn’t believe that 1 can contains 11 teaspoons of sugar and I was drinking 2-3 cans per day! Holy crap! How did I not get bigger faster than I did with the extra 33 teaspoons of sugar a day! Even now, looking back at what I was eating shocks me.

Back then, when I was eating - I NEVER read nutrition labels and had no idea how many calories I would put in my mouth in a day. Until last week, I wasn’t entirely sure how many calories my body needed just to function. My weight loss stalled so I looked into it and discovered that I actually wasn’t eating enough!! In high school/college, a typical day would be a bowl of cereal (usually Corn Flakes or Special K) and maybe toast and peanut butter for breakfast. Lunch would vary from day to day but the usual would either be a peanut butter and jam on white bread or bologna with regular ketchup. A typical dinner would either be Kraft Dinner with ground beef and canned peas added to it; a Big Mac combo with a “real” coke & a hot fudge sundae; cheese cappalletti from East Side Mario’s; pizza slices; shake n bake chicken. After dinner, I thought nothing of having a large bag of popcorn with topping at a movie or sitting in front of the tv (multiple times a week) with a 250g bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos and looking down at an empty bag when I got off the couch to go to bed. I hardly saw veggies and when I chose to eat veggies - I chose to eat all the wrong ones. My favourites were potato, creamed corn, canned potato or raw carrots (I don’t like the consistency of cooked carrot).

These days, breakfast consists of either a low carb protein shake; 2 eggs cooked any possible way; crustless quiche made with heavy cream, cheddar cheese and whatever other things I wanted to add such as veggies or meats; a large meat and veggie omelet; “leftovers” from the previous night’s dinner; or whatever you want that follows low-sugar guidelines. Once a week, I chose to have a 1/2 cup of Selection-brand (Metro/A&P House brand) All-Bran. I choose that one because it has the lowest added sugar & only contains 10g net carbs.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Where Do I Begin?

A number of people have been tracking my progress via my facebook page & have asked me how I've been able to do it... Without God's help I am completely incapable of anything. I have proven this for years and years while continuing to put on weight through high school and post-secondary education. Once I gave up control of my health and weight loss to Him and acknowledged His sovreignty in my life - the weight started to fall off! I have been blessed with a plethora of information about low carb/gluten-free way of eating via the internet & blessed me with great sources of information, inspiration & encouragement.

The first phase of the Atkins diet is called Induction. Typically, if you have less than 40lbs to lose, then you would only complete this phase for 2 weeks. But extended induction can be maintained if you have a lot more weight than that to lose. You have to limit total net carb intake to 20g carbs/day for those two weeks. How do you do that? You learn how to read nutrition labels and you start reading ingredient lists as well. You look at carbohydrate grams and fiber grams. For example, Heinz Ketchup lists 5g carbohydrates and 0g fibre in 1 tbsp of ketchup. So, this means that there are 5g carbs in a tbsp of ketchup. Look at a cup of raw broccoli. It has 6g carbs & 2g fiber so it has 4g net carbs. Now, compare that to Wonder brand white bread. 2 slices contain 25g carbs & 3g fiber. \this means that there are 22g net carbs. That means if you eat this bread during Induction, you have just gone over your limit for the DAY in ONE MEAL! You have to be so careful about the fruits & veggies you eat. Choose ones that have low level glycemic index (that means they have little effect on your blood sugar levels). When you eat corn - 1 cup of canned, yellow corn has 30g carbs & 3g carbs = 27g net carbs. Once you become more aware of what you're putting in your mouth - things do get easier.

I have chosen to follow the Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution (DANDR) but you should chose the lower carb option that works for you. Make sure that you have support in place to get you through the tough spots. You always need a "buddy" even if its a stranger on the internet that is going through the same things (or has gone through them).

I strongly recommend the website http://www.atkinsdietbulletinboard.com for extra support. This is where I've met some fantastic people who have encouraged me when I wanted to quit. Also, I recommend Jimmy Moore's videos on YouTube under the username livinlowcarbman. He's got some great videos with his wife Christine & they will give you the basic tools to work with. Another great inspiration of mine is Kent Altena. He's also got videos on YouTube under the username bowulf. He's got some great low carb cooking videos that have given me the confidence to try new foods and new recipes. Let Kent inspire you! He's also got some great videos that can help you as a new low carber. Finally, I recommend Jamie VanEaton's (Cleochatra) website for great low carb recipes. Her recipes have been featured on Dr. Oz's tv show and help you to make low carbing a simple part of your every day life!

As you educate yourself about living the low carb lifestyle, you'll find other websites, recipes & people who inspire you... Don't forget the words of Dr. Robert Atkins "Exercise is not an option." You can lose a lot of weight by "just" low carbing but you are working towards a healthier lifestyle. Exercise will tone & strengthen your "new" body if you use exercise along the way. It doesn't even have to be "working out" per se... Just some movement.... Walking... Using your exercise games on your Wii... Weight training... Jogging/running... Yoga... Anything that will get you moving!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Lately I've been frustrated with the lack of progress in my weight loss journey... I seem to be stuck within the same 10 lbs... I'll go down 2 or 3 and then I'm up the next day.... Back and forth! Drives me nuts! I've been so frustrated that I've started doing extra cardio & extra ab work to get rid of the weight from the tummy down. As far as I'm concerned, I've totally met goal on the top half of the body just have to work on the bottom half now.

Looking back on my life since I started this journey, I see many changes (small victories) that have happened over this time. I started eating more veggies, drinking more water and increasing my exercise level. I added spaghetti squash, zucchini & eggplant to my veggie vocabulary. I've "upgraded" my coffee from triple, triple with cream & sugar to black with 2 Splenda. I'm taking Vitamin B complex to help break down fats, proteins & carbs. I am taking conjugated linoleic acid (aka omega 6 fatty acid) from safflower oil to break down the fat in the midsection, glucose tolerance factor chromium for better glucose transfer and vitamin C to help boost my immune system. I am making better choices when it comes to activity now too. I don't usually buy treats to watch a movie... I'm walking more... I don't turn down any opportunity to be more active...

In a way I feel like I'm a different person and yet this is the person who was inside all the time. I'm discovering that I wasn't really a couch potato but I became one as my more active self became bored and shut down. I still love sitting at the computer or watching a movie but I'm not choosing to do that over a more active option.

Instead of food as a reward, I've been rewarding any progress with new clothes.... Not just any clothes... A decadent favourite... Ralph Lauren... I love his clothes and haven't really fit much except the largest men's size golf shirts in a long time. This week I bought myself a black pair of Lauren by Ralph Lauren jeans. This is a big victory on my part because this is the first of his actual women's line that I've been able to fit into. This is just big encouragement to keep going.

The best part of this weight loss journey is that it's been feeding my insatiable need for learning. I have been like a big sponge and taking in all that I can. I make educated decisions about the things that I eat and drink... I listen to the voices of experience I have connected with via Facebook & Atkins diet websites... I am happy to help anyone else who wants to work on their weight loss as well...

My goal for this blog is to share my victories, the things I've learned & maybe a few frustrations here & there... I look forward to hearing your feedback!