Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The top ten herbs and spices

Ah, herbs and spices.  They add so much flavor to everything we eat and can even heal our bodies.  Today, I'm going to tell you about the top ten spices and herbs, their healing properties, and how to make some of your own spice mixes.  If you're lucky enough to be able to get fresh, whole, spices that you can grind yourself, great.  If not, try to buy the smallest amounts of the best quality you can afford.  Avoid, however, the premixed and packaged spice blends as they are usually filled with chemicals, sugars, and wheat. I'll tell you how I make some of the blends that I use when I just don't feel like grinding them fresh.  I'll also tell you how to properly store them so that they don't lose their taste or health benefits.

First, though, the top ten:

1.  Turmeric  This is the superstar in the spice world, and its potency is due primarily to curcumin, which is an antioxidant.  I am able to get the roots, but I'll warn you: These things are hard to grind into a fine powder--even my coffee mill has a difficult time with it.  Thank goodness one small root goes a long way.

  • It has anti-inflammatory properties, especially with regard to the knees, mouth, and bones.  
  • It suppresses carcinogens.
  • Turmeric helps regulate our insulin and triglycerides.
  • Some evidence suggests that it aids in our immune system, and can help speed the healing of wounds, colds, and other respiratory illnesses.
Too much (more than 1/2 teaspoon, or so) can cause problems with your gallbladder or blood, so use this in moderation.  Besides, too much just tastes bad--I guess that is Mother Nature's way of telling us that we are taking a good thing too far.

2.  Ginger  One of my favorites and it is a staple in my kitchen. Its potency lies in the gingerols, which are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. I almost always use it fresh, though I have been know to dry some and grind it in my mortar and pestle.  There is nothing better, though, than the taste of fresh.  Here, they call it Ajo Chino, Chinese garlic, and it is very inexpensive and plentiful.  Depending on where you live fresh may not be an option, so just buy the best quality you can afford.  
  • Calms upset stomachs.
  • Soothes migraines.
  • Helps sore muscles feel better.
  • It can even help with the discomforts of menstruation.
Again, more is not better.  Too much and you can get heartburn or worsen a bad gallbladder.  It also has negative interactions with certain medications, so you should talk to your doctor if you are taking any prescription drugs.  

3.  Sage  Ever wonder why wise people are called "sages?"  Well, sage is loaded with an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, and that boosts brain power.
  • Improves memory and has been shown in studies to hold back the tide of dementia, Altzheimer's, forgetfulness, and other cognitive functions.
  • Relieves hot flashes, upset stomach, digestive problems, and sore throats.
  • Contains many vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as magnesium, copper, manganese, and more.
This can be used to season meats and vegetables, or even used to make tea.

4.  Thyme  This herb with its lovely aroma and flavor is a staple in most parts of the world.  Its anti-microbial properties are well-known and grounded in good, solid, science.
  • Anti-microbial action kills staph, E-coli, and contaminants in food that can cause food poisoning.
  • Used in many mouthwashes and cleaning products for its powerful anti-microbial action.
  • Contains many vitamins and minerals.
A little goes a long way in terms of cooking and flavoring, so be careful not to overpower your food with it.

5.  Basil  I love this stuff.  I usually buy it fresh, use some that day, and then dry the rest for later use.  It's one of the few herbs that maintains its flavor even after it has been dried. You can also freeze it to use later as well.
  • Used to treat asthma.
  • If you have diabetes--this helps with some of the damage caused to your body due to the diabetes.
  • Relieves stress and tension.
  • Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory.
  • Loaded with vitamins and minerals.
This can be used to make a soothing tea, or to season your food.  It can't be Italian without basil.

6.  Cinnamon  Smells good and tastes even better, this spice is great in sweet or savory foods.  
  • Its most notable health benefit is that it can help to stabilize blood sugar in Type II diabetics.  Just a teaspoon/day is all it takes to prevent--or reduce--those post-meal spikes in blood sugar.
  • Anti-microbial properties make it a good fighter of infections.
When mixed with cloves and ginger, cinnamon makes an excellent tea that soothes your nerves and assists with upper respiratory congestion.

7.  Chili peppers  Give your food a kick and kick-start your metabolism, too.  The capsaicin found in peppers increases your metabolism and that means you burn more calories.
  • Possibly stimulates your brain to help you feel full faster.
  • Reduces the risk of stomach ulcers.
  • Helps keep your LDL's (bad cholesterol) lower.
8.  Garlic  No list of herbs and spices would be complete without our friend garlic.  I don't think a day goes by that I don't use this spice.  It just makes our savories taste better.
  • Known as "poor man's penicillin" for a good reason--it is a potent anti-microbial.
  • May protect against colon cancer.
  • Prevents heart disease.
Use a little, use a lot--just use it!

9.  Fennel  Betcha didn't see that one coming.  Yep, fennel.  This bulb with its sweet, licorice, flavor is great eaten raw in a salad or roasted.  
  • Used as a digestive aide, so if you have gas or indigestion, give it whirl.
  • Has strong anti-oxidant properties that help fight inflammation and cancer.
10.  Cilantro  One of my favorites.  This pungent herb is essential in many of the world's cuisines, including Indian, Chinese, and Mexican.  
  • Aides in the removal of toxins from our bodies, such as heavy metals.
  • Filled with vitamins and minerals.
  • Refreshes and revitalizes our bodies.
  • Aids in digestion and even relieves gas or indigestion.
So, now that we've covered my top ten list of herbs and spices, I want to share with you some spice blends that I make and use when I just don't feel like grinding and blending fresh.  Let's face it, we've all been there and sometimes it's just easier to use a mix.  By making some different blends in advance and having them on hand, it will prevent us from being tempted to buy the pre-packaged ones in the supermarket that have things in them that we really don't want. You can adjust these recipes to suit your own tastes--adding or omitting ingredients as you see fit.  Also, if you want to use salt in your blends I would recommend putting the salt in your coffee mill LAST--this way you clean your grinder and make the salt fine enough so that it doesn't all settle at the bottom of your jar.

Most of these recipes I got from The Spice House web site and have been using them for a long time.  I've tweaked them to suit myself, but here they are in their original form.  For more recipes like this or to buy top of the line spices, go here. When I lived in the States, I bought from them.  Another good source is Barry Farm Foods.  Finally, I also get a lot of recipes like this from The Mountain Rose Blog--she has great recipes.

Adobo Chicken Marinade Notes
This is a good Mexican style marinade that isn't very spicy hot with a very pleasant flavor.
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ounce tequila
  • 1 ounce olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free adobo seasoning
Serves / Yields
As written - for one pound of chicken breast, adjust as needed
Preparation Instructions
Place all ingredients into a cruet and vigorously shake to create an emulsification. Pour into a large bowl, add chicken breast meat and marinade for at least 1 hour. Grill chicken to well-done (of course)
Helpful Hints
You can chop the chicken breast into small pieces and grill on skewers, or you can grill the breasts whole and then slice them after grilling - your choice. This marinade could probably even be used to pan fry ground chicken/turkey if you were so inclined.
Garam Masala
I couldn't imagine life without this basic blend of spices.
Ingredients
  • 1 2" Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Bay Leaves, broken
  • 3 tablespoons Green Cardamom Pods
  • 2 teaspoons Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Whole Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Whole Coriandar Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Black Peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon Whole Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Blade Mace
Preparation Instructions
Break the cinnamon sticks into pieces. Crumble the bay leaves. Heat a heavy frying pan and after 2-3 minutes put in the whole spices. Dry roast over medium heat until the color darkens, stirring or shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning. Leave to cool, then grind. Store in an airtight container. The mixture will keep for 3-4 months.
You can add 2 teaspoons of ground tumeric after grinding to add a golden color to the curry and/or add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground ginger to give some heat, or to taste.

Taco Seasoning

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Grind spices if whole, salt last, and store in airtight glass jars.  Three tablespoons is equivalent to one packet of store bought mix.

Curry Powder
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup Paprika Powder
  • 1/4 cup Cumin Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Fennel Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Fenugreek powder (optional)- gives sweetness
  • 2 tablespoons ground Mustard Powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground Red Chili Pepper Flakes (optional)- adds spiciness
  • 3 tablespoons ground Coriander (optional)
  • 1/4 cup ground Turmeric root
  • 1 tablespoon ground Cardamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cloves powder (optional) – Adds complex flavor

To make: Mix all ingredients in a bowl, jar or food processor and store in an air-tight container until ready to use. Can be used on meats, vegetables or in soups. Especially good in with chicken, shrimp or vegetables.

Cajun Seasoning Mix
I had to have something especially for my sister, Brenda, who is a fiend for Cajun seasoning.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup Paprika Powder
  • 1/3 cup Himalayan Salt or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Onion Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper (optional- won’t be spicy without this)
  • 2 Tablespoons Oregano leaf
  • 1 Tablespoon Thyme leaf

To Make: Mix all ingredients in jar or food processor and store in an airtight container. Good on stir frys, eggs, casseroles, and poultry. Can add more or less Cayenne to get to your taste.

Ranch Seasoning Mix
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup dried Parsley leaf
  • 1 Tablespoon Dill leaf
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Basil leaf (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

To Make: Mix all ingredients together in jar or food processor. To make into Ranch Dressing, mix 1 Tablespoon of this mix with 1/3 cup Homemade Mayonaise or Greek Yogurt and 1/4 cup Coconut Milk.

I hope you enjoyed today's tasty post.  Please feel free to share your spice blend recipes with me.  I'll be sure to post them and give you credit.

Until next time...

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Uphill Battle Against Conventional Wisdom

Remember when you were eating a diet that the experts all said was good for you?  You know the one: high carb/low fat?  And remember when all you got for it was sicker and fatter?  Remember the medications you were taking or supposed to be taking?  Remember how you felt like a slug, unable to get out and move about very well without pain?  Remember when no one would believe that you were actually following your prescribed diet--including your doctors?  Then, do you remember when you ditched conventional wisdom for a more Paleo style of eating and living?  How much better you began to feel, almost instantly?  How your health began to improve, almost instantly?  I sure do.

What strikes me as odd is how despite the fact that my weight loss has been maintained, and how my lab works show great lipid and sugar levels, and all the other benefits I have gained from eating and living this way, that there are still those who tell me that I am going to kill myself with this diet.  I'm stunned by some of the responses I get when I tell people "no thanks, I don't eat grains."  Or their responses when they see me eating sausages, pork, butter, or using lard.

The knee-jerk reactions make me want to laugh.  The first reaction most of these people have is that I'm going to get fat, clog my arteries, and have a heart attack. Ummm, no, no I'm not.  In fact, I've reduced my risks for these health problems considerably with the way I eat.  I'm not taking any medications and I'm able to run several miles each day and weight train too.  I'm more flexible and fit than when I was a skinny teenager eating a "heart healthy diet" full of whole grains like those found in Roman Meal cereal.  I really hated that cereal, but my dad was a cardiac patient and made us eat it nearly every day.  If  my dad hadn't died from his clogged arteries, likely caused by all the inflammation created by eating so many healthy whole grains, I'm sure he'd agree with me: Conventional Wisdom is wrong.  I know he would see what I'm doing and say "hey, they got it wrong." He'd be right, too.  They do have it wrong.  They also aren't going to start singing a new tune just because they know they have it wrong.  They can't.

The fact is, the medical establishment, the government, and they myriad alphabet organizations that push the conventional wisdom have entirely too much invested in their dogma to back off.  They have painted themselves into a corner from which there is no escape.  For them.  That doesn't mean you have to stay in the corner with them.  You have the freedom to get out of that corner and reclaim your health.

Forget what they say about needing those grains for fiber.  There are plenty of sources of fiber, and it is something called vegetables.  One of the few things they got right was that your plate should be full of vegetables.  The difference between their style of eating vegetables and ours is that we can have butter or creamy sauces on ours.  Besides, how many of us couldn't make poop no matter how many grams of fiber, via whole grains, we crammed into our bodies.  I know what it's like to have to buy a ticket on the laxative train.  It was a vicious, never-ending ride.  Thank goodness, I jumped off that particular train and put an end to my irritable bowel syndrome.

Even now, my neighbors and friends who saw me transform my physical well-being are stunned each and every time they see the kinds of foods I eat.  One neighbor told her son about the amount of fat I eat, and his response was: Her arteries must be getting clogged.  Hah! She, though, is still a believer in conventional wisdom despite the evidence to the contrary right before her very eyes.

Family, too.  They'll tell me how they want to lose weight or maintain their recent weight loss, yet they'll scoff at my methods despite the fact that my methods are working.  They'll still continue to eat those grains which, in turn, causes them to eat too many carbs, and they can't understand why all the exercise and otherwise healthy eating isn't working: why they keep seeing the numbers on the scale go up, little by, insidious, little.

It doesn't matter how much you exercise if you are not eating right.  You will never get control of your weight or health if you continue to eat grains--especially wheat.  I still stand by what I've said on previous posts: not all grains are bad for everyone---except wheat.  No one can ever convince me that wheat is good for you--in any form.  That is also why I advise people stop eating wheat first, then gradually omit the other grains.  You can try adding some of the grains back, one at a time, after your system has been grain-free for about two months.  If you are sensitive to one or more of them, you'll know soon enough.  I tested each re-added grain for a week or two, on its own, because sometimes symptoms (like constipation or joint pain) won't show up immediately, whereas stomach upset and diarrhea will occur within an hour or so, if you are really sensitive. Wheat should never be added back. If carb cravings start again, then you should just eliminate the grains altogether.  Some of us just cannot eat any grains.

The issue of fat really throws people for a loop.  Conventional wisdom would have us believe that we need to reduce our dietary intake of fat in order to lose weight or just stay healthy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We need more fat--especially if we are trying to reduce.

I consume at least 60% of my daily calories from fat.  The fat comes from butter, olive oil, eggs, full-fat dairy, and meat.  All natural fats are required by your body and your brain.  Most of my carbs come from a variety of fresh, colorful, vegetables, and a small amount of fruit.  I try not to eat too much fruit and limit my intake to a very small portion each day.  I also keep my protein intake to about 8 ounces each day.  No, I don't weigh or measure anything, nor do I count calories, carbs, or fat grams--but after so many years of doing just that, I pretty much know the values of these numbers for most foods.

So, just rid your minds of the conventional wisdom because there is absolutely no wisdom to be found there.  Look around you.  Look at, and talk to, those who have eschewed conventional wisdom as all the proof you need.  I don't care what the diet books say and I certainly don't care what the various governments say: Conventional wisdom is wrong.  The only ones who benefit from your eating that way are the doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and the producers of the so-called food that lines the grocers shelves--and they gain from your illness.

Until next time...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Back In Business

After 2 weeks of network issues, and an illness, I am back.  I will start my regular thrice-weekly blog posts on Monday, April 21st.

I think I'll start with something we can all enjoy: a recipe.

See you then!

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Offal Truth


Definition of OFFAL

1
: the waste or by-product of a process: as
a : trimmings of a hide
b : the by-products of milling used especially for stock feeds
c : the viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal removed in dressing : variety meat
2


Definition #2 says it all for me. Rubbish. I know, it's supposed to be good for you.  I guess.  Of course, I'd like to see good studies that took place (on humans) that lasted for more than a few months before I'd even consider believing it.  I still wouldn't eat it, though, even if it was deemed harmless and nutritious.  It's that line I talked about before and I'm not crossing it. 
Offal also, to me, tastes awful.  Again, I know a lot of people like it.  A lot of people also like the notion of "snout to tail" when animals are being butchered for food.  Fine, use it. But I just don't want to eat it. Not me. Nunh-unh.  No way.  I'm really hard pressed to believe that organs that were used for filtering toxins from the body are good to eat.  I can not believe they are good for you. Also, the poop-chute? Me, eat that? Not on your life. Gross.
However, if we look at definition #1, we may give pause to eating meat or drinking milk from animals that were fed offal.  I don't think that cows, sheep, or other traditional barnyard animals were meant to eat this stuff.  That's why, if I lived in the States or in parts of Europe, I would be very careful about what I buy and from where I buy it.  
I'll probably lose what few readers I have with this post, but honestly, it's my blog and I can say what I want.  If you like these things, go for it! I simply can not bring myself to put it in my mouth.  I also don't like when members of an otherwise very supportive community give me grief because I won't choke down some liver, kidneys, or pigs ears.  
As for me, I'll just stick to the main cuts of properly raised and fed animals and call it a day.
Until next time...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Leptin Reset: Was it right for me?


I guess I didn’t need to do a leptin reset after all, but short of getting a ton of expensive tests that would merely indicate the possibility of leptin resistance, I really just had to wing it.  Dr. Kruse recommended not doing the reset if you didn’t need it, but I could never find out why you shouldn’t.  I guess I now know: you’ll feel worse.  Yes, I’m willing to experiment on myself to prove/disprove certain theories.  I’m also willing to conduct experiments to find out “why.”  Of course, that’s why I received a grade of ‘D’ one quarter in high school—our teacher would say “don’t do...” but wouldn’t say why. I would always find out why. So, failure to listen to directions cost me what would have otherwise been a perfect grade. This same failure also made me a good scientist and analyst. But, I digress.
            One thing you must all keep in mind, though: there are no tests that can prove leptin resistance. Leptin resistance isn’t even a recognized medical condition.  Does that mean Dr. Kruse is wrong?  Absolutely not.  After all, the medical establishment would have us believe that red meat and cholesterol kills, and whole grains heal;  most of us have long since figured out that that is not the case. In fact, most of us have found the opposite to be true.  What the myriad tests that Dr. Kruse recommends merely point to the possibility of leptin resistance, and he has found a way to counter this.
            The most ironic thing, at least from my perspective, about my own experience with the leptin reset protocol was that I wasn’t eating different foods than I had been previously—only different quantities at different times of the day.  My symptoms were very much like the so-called carb flu.  The low-carb and Paleo communities have coined this term to show that a person is experiencing flu-like symptoms when they go very low-carb after a lifetime of eating the standard American diet (SAD).  Your body will go through withdrawals for a few days to a week, and then the healing begins and the person starts to feel better.  I went through it myself, so I know the symptoms and I know how long those symptoms last.  I never had the horrible sweating, though.  I also never experienced joint pain.  In fact, the joint pain was the first thing to go when I’d leave grains behind, and that usually happened by the third day. On the leptin reset, by day 6 I felt nearly crippled with the pain.  Not good.
            So, to reitterate, the only thing I did differently on the leptin reset protocol was eat more fat/protein in the morning, and less in the afternoon.  I also consumed fewer carbs each day and consumed them later in the day than I normally would have.  I guess this really upset my body’s chemical balance.  I went from being an ‘eat-whenever’ person whose first meal of the day wasn’t until the afternoon, to one who was being force-fed before her eyes were barely opened.
            I cannot stress often enough that we are all different and have different dietary needs.  I believe that since all of our homones are in different states of orderliness (or dis-orderliness) that different protocols will cause different reactions.  It can be a struggle to find your body’s happy place, but that place can be found.  The key is to not give up.  What I learned from the leptin reset helped me to diagnose my own situation: I was consuming too much fruit.  I wasn’t consuming too many carbohydrates, just too many of the wrong kind, and that likely prevented my body from being a really efficient fat burner. So, what’s the next experiment? Less fruit, more non-starchy vegetables, and increase the weight training.
            In the meantime, if you feel you may be leptin resistant, try the leptin reset—especially if you are switching from SAD—and see how it goes.  Should you do the tests?  Hm, that’s a tough call.  I would say do them if you can afford to do them, and pay Dr. Kruse for private consultations to analyze the results.  Like I said, leptin resistance is not a recognized medical condition and your physician at home will likely not be able to help you with regards to this.  If you can’t afford the tests, or simply do not wish to subject yourself to these tests, then give it a go and see what happens.  It won’t hurt you, and it could very well help you.  Just because the results are mixed, doesn’t mean the science is necessarily bad; it just means the science needs more refinement.
            Until next time.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The HCG Protocol and Leptin Reset Days 4+5

I am a true believer in the hCG diet protocol for people who have a significant amount of weight to lose or people who have dieted themselves to the point that even a traditional low-carb diet won't help. Before I go much further though, I want to stress that this diet must be done perfectly or it simply will not work as advertised. This means 500 calories as specified and probably no exercise beyond casual walking or some swimming. Hm. Those of you who know me are probably saying, "Hey! Wait a minute! Aren't you the one who advocated strenuous exercise during the protocol? That we only had to bump up our calories to do so?"

The answer is, yes. I did. However, it was a huge mistake. Yes, I lost a lot of weight (95 pounds) in a short period of time doing it my way, however, I probably lost out on one of the best benefits of doing the diet the way in which Dr. Simeons meant it to be done and am currently paying for it. Had I done it exactly as the protocol described, I would have still lost the weight but I may not be doing a leptin reset right now. Had I followed it properly and done a paleo stabilization/maintenance, I may have become leptin sensitive, and the exercise I was doing up until just a few days ago, might have given me the results I desired in my body composition.

I am constantly learning and constantly studying and had Dr. Kruse's book been out at that time I would have understood what leptin was/is and how it controls every hormone in every gland in our bodies; that I needed to look further than just the hypothalamus. However, trying to navigate through his site gave me a blasting headache--there was just too much information scattered all to hell and gone because he'd been blogging for years. Also, all of the research I'd read from scientific journals mentioned zero about leptin. After reading Dr. Kruse's book, though, certain things really gelled for me.

What finally convinced me that doing hCG precisely as prescribed AND by doing strict Paleo during the stabilization/maintenance phase was this: I "met" hundreds of hCGers while on the protocol and almost to the last, they gained most, if not all of their weight back after having achieved their weight loss goals. No matter what they did. No matter how religiously they weighed themselves. No matter how many correction days they did, the weight just crept back up. The only ones who kept it off were those who went low-carb gluten-free or Paleo. The ones who did the best (I'm not one) were the ones who did the Leptin Reset protocol during the stabilization/maintenance phases. They never saw a correction day. They never craved another sugary, grain-filled, anything. For them, transition off the hCG protocol was easy and effortless. For those who didn't it has, simply put, been a nightmare of regains and going back on the hCG protocol.

I, for one, couldn't do another round if my life depended on it. Seriously. I could not. It was the hardest diet ever. Granted, the reward was wonderful, but I knew when I finished my last round that I had no choice but to keep the weight off or I'd become fat again because doing another round was simply not an option. Of course, by the last round I was already becoming familiar with Paleo and gluten-free as well, and went mostly Paleo after the last round. That is likely what saved me from gaining my weight back.

When I began to write my cook book, Greek Without the Gluten, I was eating a lot of high carb food while testing these recipes--more than what I normally would have eaten--and gained 8 pounds. It took about a month of strict Paleo to get back down to my ideal weight, but I did get it off.

So, here are my pointers for those who are considering hCG as a means of losing weight, how I would now approach exercise and maintenance, and what I think your results will be, based on anecdotal evidence by those who have done it this way:

  1. Follow the meal plan exactly as prescribed--no cheating, for any reason whatsoever.
  2. Stay away from any and all artificial sweeteners--use stevia or nothing.
  3. When you enter P3 (stabilization) you will be, necessarily, eating a Paleo-type diet, except you won't be getting any of the starches that are allowed in a Paleo diet.
  4. Add new foods to your diet one at a time. If you don't experience gains, you are likely not sensitive to them and you can continue to eat them.
  5. Weigh yourself every day. Do correction days as needed.
  6. Do NOT allow yourself to lose more (beyond the 2 pound window) while on P3.
  7. Do NOT move on to P4 (maintenance) until you have been stable for a period of 3 weeks. Stable=no losses/gains outside the 2 pound window.
  8. When you begin to add new starches, do like you did in P3--one at a time.
  9. Again, weigh yourself every day and do your correction days the day you see a gain of more than 2 pounds. You must do the correction day on the day of the gain or it won't work. No matter what.
  10. Do not add sugars, grains, or legumes back into your diet. These contain a lot of phytoestrogens that create a lot of inflammation and will ultimately lead to a lot of health problems. 
  11. On your next load days DO NOT EAT JUNK FOOD!!! Increase the amount of food, especially the fat, that you are already eating. Now is NOT the time for Little Debbie or Snickers. Why would you want to re-trigger old cravings?
Results achieved by others who did the above:
  1. Consistent rapid weight loss each round, including the final round.
  2. Easy P3/P4 with no cravings or weight gains/losses.
  3. Increased energy allowing for exercise during these phases.
  4. Effortless lifetime maintenance.
  5. Achievable desired body composition due to having your hormones regulated and all of the fat burning mechanisms in place so that your exercise will be meaningful.
For me, #4 is the best benefit of all. You have no idea how great it is to be able to step on that scale every morning and see that your weight hasn't fluctuated more than a few ounces each day. It's a great feeling.

I know a lot of you can't imagine a life without wheat or grain products. I know I certainly could not. I used to tell people that cake was my favorite food group and that I'd never give it up. Well, truth be told, I don't even think about cake anymore and couldn't care less if it's around me or not. Trust me, I'm around it every day because I am a baker.  The point is, it is perfectly possible to live happily without grain or sugar--once you break your addiction.

Leptin Reset Journal, Days 4 and 5

I'm starting to wonder if I should be doing a leptin reset at all. The advice given by Dr. Kruse was "make sure you need it before you do it." He didn't say why not to do it if you didn't need to.

As I stated when I started this, I really could not get the required tests done, so I just winged it. I'm regretting that decision.

Though the daytime sweating for no reason has mostly stopped, the night time sweating has picked up considerably. The worst ever. All night long I am either roasting hot and sweating, or freezing cold. So, my sleep is interrupted constantly and I don't feel very rested.

Also, arthritis pain is returning as is the morning stiffness in my lower back which had completely gone away before I started the LR. Allergy headaches are almost constant now, after they had practically disappeared.

For the first time in several years, I am experiencing acid reflux. What?! I can't even remember the last time that was a problem. I know it was pre-hCG days, though.

Yesterday morning, I couldn't have eaten breakfast even if I'd had a gun to my head--I was feeling that sick to my stomach.

So, I'm at a bit of a cross roads here. I don't know if it's normal to get worse before you get better, or not. I posted a question on a couple of my Paleo forums to see if one of the resident experts has the answer for me.

I'll keep you posted.

Until next time...

Monday, April 1, 2013

My Journey + Leptin Reset Days 1-3

No, this is not me or anyone I know. I was at one time, however, as bad if not worse than the people depicted in this picture. In 1999 after trying everything known to man to lose weight I topped the scales at more than 350 pounds! I don't know how much I weighed because the scale only went to 350. I can't believe I just wrote only went to 350. No "only" about it.

Despite having cholesterol levels that were over the moon, back problems, and just problems in general, I stopped seeing my doctor sometime in the middle of that year. At that time I weighed in at a whopping 347 pounds! That was a gain of 8 pounds over the previous months despite having followed her "heart healthy diet" full of "heart healthy grains." Yes, I followed the diet to the letter. Twelve-hundred calories that were virtually fat-free, but loaded with carbs and had very little meat. My cholesterol shot up too. She accused me of sloth and carelessness about my health--yes, she used those words--and when I told her that I truly had followed her instructions she rolled her eyes and said that I must have been cheating because the "numbers don't lie."

Feeling embarrassed and ashamed, I went home and promptly went off my diet. I figured I'd rather die eating cheesecake than rice cakes any day of the week. I also decided that I would never subject myself to the sorts of humiliation that only a doctor can dish out.

In late November of that year I realized that I needed to buy, yet again, more clothes. I was bursting out of my women's size 26 suits. Horrified at this prospect, I began to search for something else to try; some miracle that would help me to lose weight and regain my life. Then, I remembered something my mother said when we were young..."Eat your fat because fat eats the fat." To which we would always reply, "The fat eats the fat and gets fatter!" See, even back in the 60's and 70's we were already indoctrinated into the conventional wisdom of the day about the so-called evils of fat. This memory, however, reminded me of the Atkins diet and my mother's former love affair with it.

The next day, during my lunch break, I went to Barnes and Nobles and picked up a copy of his book. I read it. I re-read it. I practically read it to rags. It made sense and most of all, it described what had happened to me. I felt vindicated. I felt motivated and decided that after I finished my research (I always check and re-check everything) I would likely start the Atkins diet. Also, since I lived in NYC I would schedule an appointment at his clinic. The soonest I could get in was in mid-January 2000.

The first thing that happens when you go to his clinic is that you get to meet him and have a chat while he explains the protocol. He then sends you to one of his cardiologists for a complete exam. It was at this time that I discovered that I had not one or two, but three leaky heart valves and the strain of the excess weight was causing them to leak and tear. I was so young and the risks, then, were so high that surgery was not even an option. My only hope was to lose the weight and ease the strain.

I had started the diet a few weeks before my appointment with Dr. Atkins, on January 1, 2000. By the time of my appointment, I had already lost enough such that my weight could be recorded on my scale. I weighed 338 pounds, down more than 12 pounds in just two weeks. Honestly, I was thrilled to see this number because it meant that I no longer required a truck scale to get my weight.

The Atkins diet then is not the Atkins diet of today. We had nothing processed. The only sweetener allowed was saccharine and since I hated it I just didn't use any. His faux bread option, while healthy, was horrible so I went without that too. I ate my way down to just under 200 pounds in 11 months. I ate well, too. I even added exercise to my life. Yay!

Early on, I bought an elliptical trainer that I put in my home office. I worked from home most days and my coworkers knew that I would start work super early and that I would likely be exercising around 10 AM and not be available. At first, I could only manage about 3 minutes each day. It was hard. I would be sweating and hurting and breathing hard after just a few minutes, but each day I would add one or two more minutes. In a month, I was able to do an hour with ease on the lowest resistance setting, so I began to bump that up too.

Yet, despite my massive weight loss and improved health and fitness levels, people were telling me how I was going to hurt myself on this diet and that I should be eating low fat and high carb. I would just nod and smile and continue to eat my big salad with grilled chicken breast all bathed in a creamy, high fat dressing. To this day, I am amazed at how people could have said that to me, especially since I had reduced from a very tight size 28W to a 14W.

Once my weight went down to 199, I decided that I might not feel too embarrassed to go to the gym. So, I took advantage of my company's free gym membership benefit and signed up. However, because I had the leaky heart valves and a ruined back (spinal surgeries while in the AF), I knew I would need a personal trainer. I wanted to get stronger and more fit but not hurt myself. They gym recommended a master trainer who had post-rehab certifications. The problem was the cost. One of these guys hourly rates, back then, was about $150/hour. I bought a package of 10 hours (the minimum) and told my trainer, Rudy, that I could do two hours/week.

Rudy knew that I was already doing daily sessions of cardio on my home elliptical so he didn't waste any of my precious, expensive time on that. He had me lifting weights. Hard. I loved it. I was getting so strong and developing so much muscle. While my weight never went below 192, my clothing size dropped down to a size 12 (note the lack of the W next to the number) in a month. Needless to say, I was thrilled. I bought another package of hours, this time 25 hours and bumped up the number of hours each week to 3 and a month later I was training with Rudy 5 days/week.

After 6 months, my weight was the same. 192. I was lean and muscular everywhere EXCEPT my belly and inner thighs. My body fat had gone from 42% when I started weight training down to 18%. I was frustrated because we did so many ab exercises and leg exercises but nothing was getting rid of the fat in those two places.

And then, it happened. 9/11. I suddenly no longer cared about dieting or working out. I thought to myself, "how many people died today after passing up the donut in favor of a healthy, less tasty option?" I also wondered how many of them said, "Sure glad I didn't have that cheesecake this morning." I lost so many friends that day and I went into a deep, severe, depression. I gave up dieting and I gave up the gym. I got fat.

I tried to get back on track after going up to 235 pounds, but Atkins had changed. Now, they say, only count net carbs. You can have sucralose. You can have sugar free candy. You can have all this processed shit that we are making. Well, hallelujah! Not. That was the worst thing that could have happened to the Atkins center. Processed foods. The one thing he demonized most in his book was suddenly filling his cyber-shelves.

Most of you know the rest of my weight loss story, but if you don't, the story picks up again here.

Now, it seems, another phase of my journey is beginning. This time, because I realize that despite all my exercise, my body composition is just a smaller version of my old, bigger body. Too much tummy fat and too much inner thigh fat that just will NOT go away. I am no longer overweight but I'm guessing my percentage of body fat is in the unhealthy range, something I want to fix. I've struggled too hard for too long to get to a place in my life where I feel pretty damned good most of the time, enjoy the foods I eat, and can maintain the weight loss without hardship, to still not look as good as I would like.

Sure, with clothes on I look nice. Naked is a different story and I make no apologies for wanting to look good naked. Granted, only my husband will see me naked, but that's not even why. I want to just because I want to. I don't think I have to justify myself to anyone. Is it vain? Sure. But, looking good naked is also a sign of good physical health and I crave good physical health.

After reading about the Leptin Reset Rx, I decided to try it. As you know, the first attempt was shit. I did it all wrong and suffered for that one day. I have since prepared myself and stocked my freezer and fridge with what I need to do it right. I'm hoping that after I regain leptin sensitivity, these fatty areas will become a thing of the past and I will be at optimal health.

By the way, that personal trainer I mentioned? He's been my husband for the past 9 years.

Leptin Reset (re-do) Day 1:

I really wasn't hungry but I did mange to eat the big breakfast:
One whole chicken breast drowning in homemade mayo AND 2 fat homemade pork sausage links

I stayed super full until almost 12 hours later when I ate more of the same.

That was it for my eating that day. No hunger and no cravings. I did, for some reason, sweat like a pig. All day. Perhaps it was because of the unusual amount of humidity.

I also drank about 6 liters of water throughout the day.

Day 2:

I actually felt hungry first thing. Perhaps it was because 14 hours had elapsed since my last meal. I had a repeat breakfast from the day before, except I added some maca powder to a glass of water for hormonal support.

Again, no hunger for 12 hours. Also, profuse sweating again. What's going on here?? I also drank my usual 6+ liters of water.

Day 3:

I couldn't believe how hungry I was when I got up. Getting down my 50-75 grams of protein was a cinch.

Still sweating like a fiend and I don't know if the diet has anything to do with it. I just hope it doesn't continue like this for much longer. Of course, late March in Arica is a bit humid and still hot, so that could be the cause. I'm not going to worry about it much.

I'm also continuing to drink plenty of fluids. My carbs have been about zero, except for the maca each morning. I made so much of my chicken salad that it looks like I'll be eating it twice a day for at least 3 more days. Then, I'll move on to tuna salad for a few days. As long as I don't have to work at it, I can start eating my breakfast within the prescribed 30 minute window after waking. Furthermore, chicken or tuna salad are two things that I can prepare in advance, in large quantities, and not get sick of eating. I cook my sausages the night before and just warm them up while I'm eating the chicken salad and supervising the dogs' breakfast.

My energy levels are good and I really miss the long daily run, but I'm enjoying the slow strolls while the dogs run and play. It also gives me time to think about the story I'm currently writing and develop good ideas for my writing each day. I'm also one to find the bright side to every situation, and the bright side in this case is that I am not in dire need of a change of clothes and shower like I would have had I run, so I get get to work on my story straight away and not lose that hour tending to those things.

Oh, I also lost 2 pounds.

So, until next time, have a wonderful day!