follow me on twitter

Thursday, February 28, 2013

it doesn't add up

I am working on solving this system of equations.

no activity + 1800 kCal/day = 1 lb weightloss/week
training + 1800 kCal/day = 0 lb weighloss/week

note: macronutrient composition constant in both conditions.

Years ago I read Why Zebras Don't get Ulcers by Sapolsky which is an excellent book detailing the horrors of cortisol (the stress hormone). At the time I was involved in research on an intervention designed to reduce stress and we were using salivary cortisol levels to measure our outcome. I think I need to re-read this book from a different perspective.

A friend pointed out that training -- particularly the kind of training that goes into endurance events -- raises coritsol. It is a stress on the body. This is so obvious that I totally didn't think of it.

Dieting itself is a stress. And my body is already mad at me. If you want to piss off your body, gain a bunch of weight and then lose it. Fun times.

So dieting is stress. Training is stress. Plus sometimes life is stressful.

I have always found it easiest to lose weight in the off season. I assumed it was because I was so hungry all the time when training on a high carb diet. But now I am not hungry all the time -- or really ever -- and I am still not losing weight.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

stallin': Y chromosome edition

And now my husband's weightloss has stalled too. Week two of no change for him. Going on month two for me.

I was losing weight steadily when I was sitting on my ass recovering from surgery. I stopped losing weight when my training plan kicked into gear. I am tracking my food religiously (I am still trying to convince myself to give up the food journal: I can't quit you!). I know my calories are in check.

My husband stopped losing weight as soon as his running was picking up and his long run was over two hours.
Is exercise slowing our metabolism? Are we becoming more efficient?

Or, another possible explanation is "set point" (excellent explanation from Lyle McDonald linked here). Both of us are now at weights that we have maintained for some time in the past, for better or worse.

Both of us want to lose 10 lbs before the Pittsburgh marathon (him) and half marathon (me) this May.

Back to the drawing board......

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

fasted workouts

Yesterday I had a late lunch/early dinner at 3 p.m. (grass-fed beef, cheese, huge pile of asparagus) and then went to masters. This was my second masters session of the day. The set went by quickly and I felt good the whole time. I had just chia fresca after practice. I was in bed by 8:30 p.m. Two swims plus a lot of thinking wore me out.
This morning before breakfast I went for a 45 minute run. The terrain around my neighborhood is quite hilly but the purpose of this run was just to get in some miles. I walked one hill but ran fine otherwise. I had not eaten since 3 p.m. yesterday.
Got home, had some water and a Salt Stick cap, and then some more water. Had a few errands to run, including a particularly unpleasant one breaking up with my gym, and then went to Whole Foods. I still had not eaten because I was not hungry.
They say never go to the grocery store hungry. Since my last meal I had swam a hard workout at masters, slept, and been on a 45 minute run, so I wondered if the store was going to trigger a major hunger/binge type of thing. But nope. I shopped the perimeter as always including a trip through the baked goods to get some buns for my kid, no issues.
I had chicken (dark meat with skin) and raw veggies dipped in ranch when I got home. Once again, 17 hours since my last meal.
I am in no way suggesting anyone else should do this. Like the blog title says, this is just a big experiment.
Side note #1: this was my longest swim since surgery, and I am feeling pretty good.
Side note #2: did a lot of thinking about a project that had me positively stymied last summer after my concussion and while my head hurt I was able to grasp the task at hand: progress!

Monday, February 25, 2013

17h fast = great swim

Yesterday I got home from yoga at 9 a.m., had breakfast, lifted weights, showered, and finished up a project at work. My husband left for his long run later that morning (15 miles). At 2 p.m. I realized we had not eaten lunch. We went out to the Cheesecake Factory for giant salads since I was headed to a store across the street. I had a cobb salad sub salmon for chicken, estimated around 950 calories. That's some salad!
At dinner time I just was not hungry. So I didn't eat. This is part of my new plan. Eat when I'm hungry. It's not really a novel concept but I have been ruled by schedules as a triathlete for years. It seems so ODD to not be watching the clock.
This morning at 5 a.m. I got up, had a bulletproof coffee on my way to the pool, and swam a fairly challenging set. I was still hitting my target times at the end of the set and felt fine. I was hungry after practice, but not starving by any means.
I came across an interesting study last night that implies that this type of training might be beneficial. Training in the fasted state improves glucose tolerance during fat-rich diet. J Physiol 588: 4289–4302, 2010.
I enjoyed my usual breakfast at 8 a.m.
And given my workout this morning, I am feeling cautiously optimistic about the 1650 this Sunday. I'll be back at the pool 8 hours from now for round two.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Weightloss still stalled. Going on two months. Running out of patience.

I lost 100 lbs by restricting carbohydrates, so I know it can work.

At lunch today I had an interesting conversation with my husband about this problem.

The main difference between my lifestyle today vs 10 years ago (other than age): exercise.

I lost most of the weight as a totally sedentary person. I started going to the gym when my weight finally dipped below 200 lbs. When I was at my heaviest I was too ashamed to go to a gym, or to look in the mirror for that matter.

But for me back them a workout was a 1.5 mile run or a 1000 yd swim. Now these are considered a "warmup".

Gary Taubes, Jeff Volek, and others have quoted several studies (Volek is the author of some) that suggest that working out for > 1 hour per day is contraindicated for weightloss.

But I have no plans to give up my training schedule any time soon. So time to get cracking on plan B. I am throwing around some ideas including Intermittent Fasting (IF). This blog post from Attia got my attention: "what I actually eat part ii".

Also I am considering giving up my food journal/ calorie counting. My husband's jaw practically hit the table when I said this. But maybe I just need to let go of the reins a little.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


I think sugar is like alcohol, something bad for me that I might partake in a few times per year, knowing that my body will pay a price.

After eating a very high carb meal that included (an amazing) slice of turtle cheesecake Thursday evening for my birthday I was back in ketosis 24 hours later. And the +2 lbs was gone by the following morning (Saturday). I survived the carbocalypse.

Now the question is: will my weightloss ever pick up again?

In a recent podcast with Gary Taubes, he said he had to give up cream in order to lose his remaining pounds. Too much dairy seems to interfere with some people's weightloss. I am going to cut back and see if it helps.

If you aren't familiar with Taubes' work, he is one of my favorite journalists/authors on the dangers of a high carb/low fat diet. Check out his controversial NYT article from 2002, "What if it has all been a big fat lie?" I remember reading this when I was on the Atkins diet years ago. Recently I enjoyed reading his new book "Why we get fat". He has a website too which I am going to add to my recommended links.

Friday, February 22, 2013

post carbocalypse

The good news about the restaurant we went to for my birthday dinner being absolutely horrid is that we weren’t tempted to overeat. But we did go out afterwards for really good dessert: I avoided wheat but did indulge in a lot of sugar. 

This morning I was not in ketosis. I felt a little bloated. Weight was up +2 lbs. I am assuming this is mostly water. I ate about 3,000 calories yesterday.

I drank a huge glass of water around 5:30 a.m. and headed to yoga. Yoga hurt. But there are too many uncontrolled variables here to pin down why:
  1. I recently cut back on yoga with my revised training schedule, from going almost daily to not having gone in 5 days.
  2. I skipped my usual cup of buttered coffee and just had water only before class.
  3. I have been running more so I am stiffer than usual. In fact I had a short tempo run right after yoga that I imagine undid everything good I had just accomplished!
  4. Also, it’s that time of the month. I always feel bloated and crappy and my weight usually goes up +2 lbs anyway.
I wasn’t hungry when I got home from my run. In fact I still wasn’t hungry hours later but forced myself to eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast entirely seemed like a bad idea.

No cravings. Overall I feel okay. I have a swim tonight so we’ll see if I bonk. I have a long training morning tomorrow too. I am testing my ketones to see how long it takes me to get back into ketosis after yesterday’s break. I am curious how long my body will take to get back on track.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

happy carbday

Tonight I am intentionally going off plan for one meal: dinner. First carbs since Nov 4th. My weightloss has been stuck for almost two months. I have been happy, not hungry, and I've had plenty of energy for my workouts. Maybe changing things up will wake up my metabolism and I'll drop a few pounds. Maybe I'll just blow up like a balloon. Maybe my next few workouts will totally suck until I readapt to being in ketosis. That's what makes this an experiment.

Some people call this a "cheat day". I call it my birthday.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

cauliflower trickery

My husband swore he would never eat cauliflower.

But when I made him a steak and served mashed cauliflower along side it, he ate it all up.

To mash cauliflower, boil until tender, drain, add sour cream, butter, salt & pepper to taste. Mash away. I used a stick blender to fully cream the cauliflower.  Just like potatoes, but without the tedious peeling step.

Last night I made a chicken casserole with cauliflower rice. He loved it.

To rice cauliflower in a vitamix, fill the container with cauliflower florets, cover with water, and then pulse on high twice. Drain off all the water. Use in place of rice in your favorite recipes.

Next on my list: cauliflower pizza crust. This recipe is from Paula Deen y'all but there are a bunch of them on the interwebs, all along the same theme. He's still skeptical but willing to try it. I win!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

half marathon training: day 1

Today was my first run in my training plan for the Pittsburgh half marathon on May 5th. Having run the full marathon in Pgh several times (twice following it with the Cleveland marathon two weeks later), resigning myself to "just the half" is really tough.

I have two runs/week in my training plan: long/slow on Tuesdays and one short/fast(-ish) on Fridays. The long runs will grow by a mile or two per week until I get up to 12 a few weeks before the race. Part of me wants to go run 12 miles right now, but I am trying to get that part to shut up.

I had a cup of full fat greek yogurt with some blackberries and buttered coffee before the run. No GI issues. I had to walk a few of the steeper hills to keep my HR from blowing up but felt fine otherwise. I could have made it on the coffee alone, which is what I plan to do going forward.

Recently I came across a race report from a keto-adpated athlete who did an entire half ironman on just electrolytes and water. While that doesn't sound like fun to me, it caused me to shift my perspective:
    rather than worrying about what I can eat on my long runs I am going to see how long I can run without eating. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

gym scam

Never again will I join a gym with an annual contract. I have been contemplating breaking up with my gym since my surgery. The main reason is that the pool lanes are narrow and I keep scraping my scars against the rope lines. Also this gym provides many wonderful services for local seniors but as such has more of a senior-center-vibe than a gym-vibe. I’d like to be around others who are serious about lifting. 

This morning I tried to cancel my membership. I was told I needed a note from my doctor. Apparently I am still on an annual contract -- I joined this gym in 2006!  This person telling me that I could not cancel my membership until August felt like a slap in the face. I will never recommend this gym to anyone. 

There is a gym chain in our area that costs almost $50/month less, has no annual contract, and you can go to any location. Or there are locally owned gyms that want my business. If you are looking to join a gym, do your research up front. Don’t get stuck in a cell-phone style contract – they are catering to their bottom-line, not their clients. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Aging up

Turning 40 this Thursday. It’s hitting me hard all of a sudden, perhaps because I had my first birthday cake last night. (A beautiful low carb cheesecake made by a dear friend.)

Reflecting back on my 30s I realize that I spent the entire decade not obese. While never thin, I have been able to fit in chairs and shop at regular stores for so long now I almost forget what it was like before. Most of my friends think of me as athletic. But truth be told, I don't. Once a fat girl, always a fat girl.

Looking back on the past 10 years, my 30's were filled with firsts: my first race ever; my first Olympic distance tri; my first marathon; my first Bay Swim; my first half ironman; an ironman; a 50-mile ultra run; my first 10km open water swim; my first 200km bike ride.

Maybe I am afraid that I am out of “firsts”? Is this the highlight reel? Will my busted ankle be the end of it?

The most incredible moment of my season last year was swimming from the 6th street bridge to the 40th St bridge and back with my husband kayaking for me. It was not an event. There was no finish line to cross. But it was a dream I had held for years and finally realized. And now I keep thinking about that 62nd street bridge.

Maybe I am afraid of how much bigger and scarier my new “firsts” are shaping up to be.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

bad balls: a conundrum

My husband doesn't like peanut butter. Or chia seeds. Or coconut. Or green smoothies. Or, really, most of the stuff I eat to keep me going. So I had the big idea of making a variation of my delicious peanut butter balls but with cashew nut butter, since cashews and macadamias are the only nuts he likes.

Result: unspeakably bad. It tasted like the dry center of one of those terrible chemically thick protein bars.  Unfortunately I had so much faith in my cashew balls I made a huge batch with an entire jar of cashewnut butter; the whole lot got pitched. I would not feed it to our dog. I hate wasting food but this was beyond saving.

Last night I had a major headache brought on by too many hours working the computer. I went to masters anyway and swam as hard as I could. Then I failed at balls. So I just went to bed. This a.m. I work up at 6, ate a cup of whole fat greek yogurt with blackberries and buttered coffee. Went to Bikram, then to spin directly afterwards. I had no balls to snack on so I just didn't eat. And it was NO problem. I had my best workout yet since I brought my own bike rather than using the crappy bikes at the spin studio. I rode hard for 1:45. Went through 4 bottles of Nuun + water and that was it.

So I guess something good came out of my ball failure: I realized I don't need to eat between yoga and spinning. Now I just need to figure out what my husband can take on his long runs. ???

Friday, February 15, 2013

rethinking my spring schedule

Having lived with my proposed February schedule for a few weeks, I don't like it. So I am changing it up.
  • Monday: Swim. Swim. (double!)
  • Tuesday: Long run. Lift (shoulders/triceps/core).
  • Wednesday: off
  • Thursday: Swim. Lift (back/biceps/ankle).
  • Friday: Yoga. Short run. Swim (pm).
  • Saturday: Yoga. Spin. Lift (chest/legs/core).
  • Sunday: fun day. Do some stuff -- bike ride, long walk with dog, run with family, yoga, etc.
Saturday and Sunday can be flipped around depending on the weather and what group rides are planned, etc. I like having flexible weekends and getting my two big workouts over with Monday and Tuesday.  I wish there was more time for yoga. This may seem a little shy on bike workouts but if the weather is decent I ride my bike to get around and those add up.

4x swim
1-2x bike + commuting
2x run
2-3x yoga
3x lift

I am going to try this and see how it goes; if this works I'll continue it through March.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

flippin sweet

This morning was the first masters practice where I did flip turns for the entire set since hitting my head on 4/19/12. It went surprisingly well, no dizziness.

However, at 5 a.m. when I was putting away the low carb mini cheesecakes I made for my husband for valentine's day I decided to try one. Pretty good! But not the best food before speed day at masters. With flip turns.

Got in a quick lift at home. Back & biceps, saving shoulders and triceps for later since I am going to go for masters round two (minus the cheesecake!) tomorrow night.
  • Standard row 
  • Alternate hammer curl
  • High row (overhand grip) 
  • Concentration curl
  • Bent over row
  • 21s bicep curls 
  • crunches and planks
Also: quick chat with my swim coach this a.m. and I have decided to seed myself +2 minutes at the 1650 this year. I am still trying to get back what I lost after surgery. It's tough, but next year hopefully I'll be able to look back and say "wow, look how far I've come." 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

processed foods are disgusting

One nice side benefit of a low carb diet is that I don’t eat a lot of processed food. Mainly because I can’t. It is very hard to find something that doesn’t have added sugar. Manufacturers put sugar in everything. It retards spoiling, adds flavor, and many people are addicted to it. So the more they add, the more we buy.

Just last night it came to my attention that there are many added ingredients beyond sugar that we should avoid. Read this article from Men’s Health running on Yahoo news.

Or skip the article and let me cut to the chase. Beaver anal gland juice aka castoreum is used to heighten vanilla or raspberry flavoring in processed foods and is listed only as a “natural ingredient”. Food science has reached a new low here. So if you have a vanilla or raspberry low fat chemical-infused “yogurt” – the ones that are pushed as a healthy – in your lunch pail, enjoy your anal juice. I’ll be having a green smoothie.

The only suspect item in my kitchen that’s has "natural flavors" and not labeled as vegan are Atkins brand vanilla shakes that I grab in a pinch. I am going to be emailing the company. Or tossing them. My shakes are better anyway.

Looking for an excuse to cut processed foods? You got it.

p.s. In other news…. My husband is down 10 lbs and feeling great. I am going to attempt to make him low carb cheesecake for Valentine’s Day. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I remember the first time I ran 5 miles. It was before mp3 players. I had a small radio with headphones that I ran with along a flat river trail in WV. I was going to run 4 miles out-and-back that day, a long run for me, but a good song came on and I decided to push for another half mile before the turn around. I could not believe how far I had run.

A few years later I fell in with the endurance community: cyclists who ride 1200 km; runners who run 100 miles; triathletes who think nothing of two or three Ironmans in one season. My 200 km rides, marathons, "just one" ironman were no big deal -- small change among my friends. Oh so I swam a 10k? I have friends who swim 20 miles or more.

When I DNF’d at Steelhead 70.3 in 2010 I pretty much threw in the running towel. I would do my family’s favorite 5k races and one local 10k per year. Occasionally we would go for a 3-mile run together through the neighborhood or the local park, just for fun. I have been running maybe a dozen times per year.

So last Sunday I did my usual, “5-mile run with friends and my kid for charity, sure, why not?” It’s two days later and my quads still feel like they did after the JFK-50. I have to start taking my running seriously again. Otherwise I have no business at a 140.6 this year.

And I have to find a way to keep the ankle brace that I have to wear…

from giving me huge blisters on the arch of my foot,
because right now even walking is difficult.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Recipe: refined balls

This is the revised recipe for my bento box balls:

  • 2 tbsp of peanut butter
  • 2 scant tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp whey protein powder
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

    Blend room temp coconut oil and cold PB (I keep mine in the fridge) with whey until a soft dough forms. Shape into 6 balls, and roll in coconut. I keep them in the freezer until it's time to throw them in my gym bag.

    My favorite whey is the generic whole foods “everyday 365” brand vanilla whey since it has no added sugar and no artificial sweeteners.

    I am almost certain in the summer I will have to switch to 3 tbsp peanut butter and 1 tbsp coconut oil in order for the balls not to melt in the heat. But for now this is working.

    Shared with my friend between back-to-back swim workouts this morning and she liked my balls! She has a sensitive stomach and had no GI issues. We both agreed the balls carried us through workout #2 quite nicely.

    I going to try cashew butter balls for my husband who hates peanut butter (who hates peanut butter???). He also hates coconut so I may roll his in cocoa. I’ll update when I give it a go.

    On a side note, today was my longest swim yet post surgery. Yay!

  • Sunday, February 10, 2013

    how not to fuel a long run

    My husband and I are both on ketogenic diets. Today’s post is about how both of us handled our runs this morning.

    Me: breakfast was a green smoothie with kale and buttered coffee. I had two salt stick caps with a huge glass of water. I started drinking Nuun on the way to the run and carried Nuun with me on the run. I ran 5 miles in 55 minutes (yep I’m slow). It felt easy, a surprise since I haven’t run in months. Post-run I wasn’t hungry but polished off my Nuun. When I got home I made some scrambled eggs with fancy bacon and cheddar (I like good bacon in small quantities, I’ve decided), another huge glass of water, a green tea, and then coffee with heavy cream. I feel great.

    Husband: breakfast was 3 eggs scrambled with an ounce of cream cheese and buttered coffee. He had maybe two sips of water. On the run he took one natural G2. He did 10 hard miles on slippery trails in about 2 hours. Post run he had an Atkins shake and a bottle of water. When he got home he bypassed the kitchen and went straight to a hot bath.

    About an hour later I found him lying on his back in bed. I brought him downstairs and handed him two Motrin and two salt caps with tall glass of water. I gave him two low-carb wraps with turkey, cheese, and mayo, a handful of strawberries, and iced tea. He felt a little better almost immediately.

    Bottom line: he has to work harder at nutrition and hydration. I showed him the Generation UCan promo video. I am going to make sure he takes in salt and a full glass of water pre-run and I am going to start him on UCan shakes before long runs. Also I need to figure out what he can eat mid-run on the trail. He’ll eat cashews so maybe I can make a variation of my protein balls with cashew nut butter?

    p.s. a quick shout-out to our teenager who chose to get up early on a Sunday morning and run with me.

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    Keto-adpated evening workouts

    Last night I went to evening masters for the first time in 5 years. I was wondering how to handle my nutrition timing. It turns out I didn’t eat anything after lunch and I was totally fine.

    My day went like this:

  • 5:30 a.m. Buttered coffee. (link)
  • 6 a.m. Bikram
  • Tall glass of water after yoga, shower, check email, deal with minor crisis at work.
  • 9 a.m. Green smoothie. (link)
  • Work work work.
  • 1 p.m. remember I better eat. Pan fried salmon on spinach salad, extra cucumbers dipped in aioli. Coffee with whipped heavy cream.
  • Work work work.
  • 5 p.m. leave for the pool with Chia Fresca in hand (link). I was going to bring some of my protein balls (link) for after the workout but I forgot them.
  • 5:30 p.m. masters. This workout involved 150’s broken at the 75 where we got out of the pool and did pushups (I subbed sit ups) as the main set. I had done this workout on Thursday a.m. too. Good practice for relay swimming where I’ll get in/out of a boat a lot.
  • Finished off my Chia Fresca after masters.
  • 7:30 p.m. home. I might have been less of a bitch about the mess my husband and son left in the kitchen if I had not forgotten my post-workout snack. Made some scrambled eggs for dinner and felt fine after that.

    I had plenty of energy for a hard workout without an afternoon snack so (hopefully) I was burning fat for fuel. So far I would say I am performing far better keto-adpated than I was before.

  • Friday, February 8, 2013


    I’m in a slump. Since I am trying to keep an honest blog, might as well write about it.

    Biggest problem: not enough hours in my day. While my husband says I am doing “SO much better” than I was I am still struggling with this stupid head injury. My doctor started me back on my head meds and they help a little but I can’t put in the long hours I used to at work. This is causing problems. And the stress hormone cortisol is not my friend.

    A possible side effect, I’ve stopped losing weight. Perhaps my body has figured out how to run on 1800 calories a day and is doing so quite nicely. I posted about a stall a few weeks ago. Now it’s a stop. I am not gaining. I am not hungry. I am still in ketosis. My caloric intake and macronutrient breakdown hasn't changed since Oct 1. I need to do something. Just not sure what.

    And I am thinking about breaking up with my gym. I have weights at home. I have a good pool with a masters program I can get to. I have a great yoga studio. But the gym breakup will cause me to have to shift my training schedule around and may cost me a few weekday evenings with my family since my pool hours won’t be as flexible, at least until the river warms up.

    Decisions, decisions.

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

    In defense of bulletproof coffee

    My husband and I polished off our first bar of Kerrygold butter yesterday. Both of us love butter in coffee (see this post for deets); we have been enjoying it every morning. Several of our friends have mentioned that it sounds “gross” or “unhealthy”. Lets think about this:

    Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks: 16 ounces (grande, made with skim) is 190 calories, 32 grams of sugar (8 teaspoons!). Caramel Sauce Ingredients: Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Nonfat Dry Milk, Salt, Mono- and Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Sodium Bicarbonate.

    Adding 1 tbsp of butter to 16 oz of brewed coffee is 100 calories, zero sugar. Ingredients: Cultured cream from grass-fed cows.

    Which one is gross?

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Green Smoothie II

    I am getting too much protein now that I have started eating more animal products. Too much protein leads to gluconeogenesis, meaning it turns to carbs. This is exactly what I am trying to avoid. So I have modified my green smoothie to be lower in protein. This is tart, smooth, and delicious.

    Green Smoothie II

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • .5 cup whole milk greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • .5 tbsp coconut oil
  • .5 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp L-glutamine
  • huge handful of leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc)
  • 5-6 ice cubes

    Blend in vitamix.

    400 cal, 12 g carb, 32 g fat, 16 g pro, 5 g fiber
    (7 grams of carbs net, even less if you don’t count all of the carbs in yogurt)

    My original protein recipe is here. It is amazing, very filling, and will be my go-to drink before a long ride or other hard workout. But on days when my intake needs are lower I am going with this new version.
  • Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    easy low carb tomato soup

    My husband loves tomato soup but the stuff from the can is not only a chemical nightmare but also full of added sugar. I made him some from scratch and he loved it!

    Easy HF/LC cream of tomato soup

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • .25 yellow onion
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • .5 cup organic crushed tomatoes, drained (or good marinara sauce)
  • .25 cup heavy cream
  • salt, pepper, spices to taste

    Melt butter in the bottom of a 2 qt sauce pan. Add chopped onion. I added salt, cayenne pepper (just a dash), and basil to the onions as they browned. Cook until translucent.

    Add stock and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Add tomatoes. Reduce heat to simmer.

    With an immersion blender (stick blender) blend until smooth, making sure to get all of the onion. With the blender running, slowly add the heavy cream.

    Switch to stirring with a spoon. Taste and season until you get it where you want it. That’s it.

    Serves two. 200 cal, 7 g carb, 18 g fat, 3 g pro per serving.

    Tomatoes are carb-y. You can make cream of whatever following this same basic formula (without tomatoes the soup base has 3 g carb per serving). Recently I made cream of asparagus soup, subbing leftover asparagus for the tomatoes. Also it works with spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, or whatever I have on hand.

    For variety I change up the spices. When I made cream of asparagus I added curry and cumin. When I made cream of mushroom I added thyme and tarragon. Garlic goes with everything. I always use salt and cayenne in the soup base.

    Our friend is a gifted chef; almost everything I make is "pretty good but not as good as..." in my son's opinion. When he tried the tomato soup he said, “wow, I can’t believe you made this!” That's a complement.

  • Monday, February 4, 2013

    birthday wishes

    Turning 40 this month. And while the media tells me I should want age-defying lotions, diamonds, and designer clothes, what I want is this:

    Low chlorine. Cold water. No walls. Loud music. Alone. Swimming. For hours.

    The pool where I swim now has narrow lanes (black-lined for 6 but rope-lined for 7), is over chlorinated, always crowded, and is sometimes populated with quarrelsome people who bum me out.

    They make an Endless Pool that is also a spa so I could call it a “family purchase”. When the Allegheny River is below 55 I could “heat” the pool to 65 and swim at home. Once the river is swimmable we could heat it to hot tub temps and relax post-workouts together.

    I am not sure I can bring myself to take an equity loan out on our home for something that (let’s face it) is just for me. But I can dream.

    Sunday, February 3, 2013

    typical Feb training

    February is still “off season” where most effort is zone 2 and the focus is base-building. So far I have had zero trouble on a low carb / high fat diet with these types of workouts.

    Here's the basic outline of my February training schedule:

  • Sunday: Bikram, masters, long spin

  • Monday: masters, 2nd swim

  • Tuesday: long slow run, swim-specific strength

  • Wednesday: Bikram

  • Thursday: masters, group power class

  • Friday: Bikram, short “fast” (for me) run

  • Saturday: Bikram, long spin

    Total hours/week: 16 - 17

    This does not include bike commuting, dog walking, and other ordinary stuff. Sometimes I try to sneak an extra yoga class in when I can too.

    4x/week swim since my A goal is the Manhattan Island Relay and 4x Bikram yoga since I am trying to keep my ankle strong so I don't fall over and get another concussion. Everything else is 2x/week. And it will likely stay like this throughout the main part of the season, just the duration/intensity will build.

  • Saturday, February 2, 2013

    Bulletproof coffee

    Well, I did it. I put a 1 tbsp of unsalted grass fed butter and 0.5 tbsp of coconut oil into 16 oz of fresh brewed coffee, stuck my immersion blender in there, and frothed it up. And it was GOOD.

    When I started researching ketogenic diets after my hiatus I kept coming across mentions of “bullet proof coffee”. The article by guy who came up with it is linked here. Every morning I brew fresh ground coffee in a stainless steel French press. Adding butter to coffee seemed like a travesty.

    But I think the repetition got to me. I decided to try this “bullet proof coffee”. At least I agreed with the guy that Starbucks is garbage. I always use good whole coffee beans so all I had to buy was Kerrygold unsalted grass fed butter. Wow, I never realized how bad ordinary organic butter tasted until I tried this.

    Bulletproof coffee when blended looks like a latte. The taste is smooth and creamy. This is all I had this morning before yoga. Between yoga and spin I had a couple bento-box balls. I went through 80 oz water+nuun in spin class (1.5 hr). No hunger, no energy slump.

    When I came home I was excited to find my husband and son in the kitchen. “YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS!” I got out three mugs and whipped up another batch. The guys were skeptical at first, understandably, but they liked it. Our 13-year-old added sugar to his, completely defeating the purpose. My husband summed it up in one word, “delicious.”

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    tale of 3 diets

    A surprising number of people are reading this blog. I am going to share my history so that perhaps someone else might be spared. For more info, see Peter Attia's story here. I think stumbling across his blog may have saved my life.

    After losing weight on the Atkins diet, I adopted what I believed to be an “athlete’s diet" in 2005. I thought I had to have carbs for exercise. I kept a food journal. While by no means perfect, I tried to eat clean. Yet I very slowly put on 5 lbs during the two years it took me to build for my ironman in spite of a huge exercise load. And I put on another three during the race taper and directly afterwards.

    In early 2009 I adopted a vegan diet because I felt like I needed to clean up my diet after IMFL. I still had it stuck in my head that I could not go back to a low-carb diet because I wanted to do endurance events. I was often hungry eating vegan but felt great otherwise. I ran the JFK-50 and swam three of my six Chesapeake Bay Swims vegan.

    In 2010 I tore my ankle tendon.

    In 2011 I sprained my back.

    In 2012 I had a severe concussion.

    Bam bam bam. Not being able to maintain my level of exercise, being depressed about the injuries, and being on a carb-y vegan diet was a triple threat: I gained 15 lbs. I was still as active as possible while injured but it is very hard to maintain a huge weight loss. Like swimming in an endless pool, with sharks.

    Oct 1, 2012, I am went back to my high fat/ low carb diet. Yep, I've lost weight. But I almost don’t care. I am just so damn happy to not be hungry all the time. And I have had no trouble getting though my workouts. Looks like I was duped in '05.

    I can see why most dieters regain weight. Numerous long swims and century bike rides while eating a fairly clean vegan diet were not enough for me to maintain my weight. A dieter's body fights back hormonally. My husband said, “It’s been almost 10 years, your body has adjusted.” No. It hasn’t. If anything it’s just that much more pissed off.

    me finishing my very first Chesapeake Bay Swim, June 2007. one of the most incredible moments of my life.