Day 3 and 4: Getting into a routine

Not very much to report for these two days.  I did start working out.  Well, more like “injecting exercise”.  I really need to start doing some cardio to burn calories as I perform moves to build muscle.  But, the weather is about to turn bitter.  At least I know that I am continuing with LCHF, and doing the moves below:

Week 1 (progressive exercise for Arms and Abs):

Day 1: 5 push-ups, 5 dips, 10 bicep curls, 10 secs boxing,15 situps, 5 crunches, 5 leg raises, 10 sec plank
Day 2: 8 push-ups, 8 dips, 15 bicep curls, 15sec punches, 20 situps, 8 crunches, 8 leg raises, 12 sec plank
Day 3: 10 push-ups, 10 dips, 20 bicep curls, 20sec punches, 25 situps, 10 crunches, 10 leg raises, 15 sec plank
Day 4: REST
Day 5: 12 push-ups, 15 dips, 30 bicep curls, 25sec punches, 30 situps, 12 crunches, 12 leg raises, 20 sec plank
Day 6: 15 push-ups, 20 dips, 40 bicep curls, 30sec punches, 35 situps, 15 crunches, 15 leg raises, 25 sec plank
Day 7: 18 push-ups, 25 dips, 50 bicep curls, 35sec punches, 40 situps, 20 crunches, 20 leg raises, 30 sec plank

Disclaimer: I cannot take credit for these specific exercises or their progression.  I did some research on various challenges and this is what I “smashed-up” to suit my needs.  For this first 30 days, I am really focused on arms and abs.  I also need to get in some jogging and boxing a few times a week.

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Day 2 – Taming of the Shrew

Soooo, I had an interview today.  The only problem is, I let the morning get away from me.  Woke up, got the kids ready for school, dropped them off, ran an errand or two, stressed over the last two residency applications…and before I knew it, I had about 20 minutes before it was time to leave.  Sigh.  My plan was to wash, condition, detangle and bun it up.  But that is neither an easy nor a quick feat for me.  Somehow, I decided on half-up and half-down.  I also opted for a bare face, with just a hint of vaseline on the lips.

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This before hair, though.

The “what is going on?” face is the product of seeing my lop-sided hair growth and the realization that my gray hair in the front is coming in a’la stripe from the gremlins.  It looks like a sliver of a highlight in the top left photo, but I assure you, it is about ten strands together.  I am not ready to surrender to the skunky pattern quite yet.  Only problem is, I have sworn off color.  I love how it looks, but it wreaks havoc on my hair without mercy.  And I don’t have the luxury of time to do the proper treatments that could prevent some of the damage that leads to my hair feeling like bailed hay.  Maybe there is some henna on the horizon…

Now, for my meals.

Since I was on the go quite a bit this morning, I didn’t get a chance to sit down for my own breakfast.  I live in a household where there are feeding issues galore.  Some days I prepare four separate meals.  Needless to say, I am trying to create a grand scheme to minimize those days.  In the past, I would skip meals on a regular basis.  That did nothing but tank my metabolism and force my body to coddle whatever body fat existed (especially in the mid-section) since it didn’t know when the next meal was coming.

Enter…the Quest Bar.  These bars seriously changed my life.  To have a GOOD tasting protein bar, made from real food, on a low carb diet is like finding a unicorn.  And for a finally-out-of-denial recovering sugar addict, the last thing I want is something that will make my brain crave sugar.

From their site: Sugar, for instance, doesn’t even exist at our facility. The only sugar in our bars comes from things like the nuts and freeze-dried fruit. Every sweet, mouthwatering bite of a Quest Bar is the result of painstaking trial and error to discover the most insanely delicious ingredients that promote a healthy lifestyle.

My favorites are coconut cashew, lemon cream pie and cinnamon roll.  I’ve only tried one I didn’t like, and that was the banana nut muffin (I’ll keep my comments on this one to myself).  There are also a few flavors that I can’t wait to try: s’mores, cookies and cream, white chocolate raspberry, double chocolate chunk, vanilla almond crunch.  Oh my gosh…I think I just salivated on myself.  Here is a link to all the yummy options: goodness in bar form.

My only criticism is the price.  At just under $2.50 a bar, there are cheaper options out there.  But I would be willing to place a bet the alternatives are not nearly as good for you.

My meals for the day:

Breakfast (on-the-go): Quest Lemon Cream Pie Bar
Snack: Handful of almonds
Lunch: Leftover pork tenderloin (4 oz), Tuscan Kale Salad
Snack: Coffee with cream and coconut oil
Dinner: Roasted chicken, leftover roasted butternut squash, 1/2 avocado

Details: 1211 calories
Macronutrient breakdown:
– 20% Protein, 66.4g
– 58% Fat, 72.6g
– 22% Carbohydrates, 72.6g minus 40.3g fiber = 32.3g net carbs

Day 1

Hair.

Sooooo, I have been rocking a wash-n-go turned twist out for exactly seven days.  I have a meeting tomorrow, so something needs to be done.  But for the past week, I have absolutely loved the fluff!  I came about my new routine after getting upset for the umpteenth time about my hair taking several days to dry from a WNG.  So, at the end of day 1, I just do large twists (about 12 or so).  It is a great way to expose my roots.  For my nighttime routine, I just throw on a bonnet.  I do not do the pineapple.  For me, putting in and taking out the pineapple causes more frizz than just a bonnet.  In the morning, I just remove the bonnet, fluff, and go.

Meals.

Breakfast: 2 chicken roll-ups (deli-slice rotisserie chicken with colby jack slice)
Snack: 1/4 avocado with salt and pepper
Lunch: Canned tuna, drained with a squeeze of lemon juice and celery seed
Dinner: Roasted pork tenderloin, sauteed spinach (in grass-fed butter with red onion), roasted butternut squash (with cinnamon, cumin and ground ginger), small glass of Rhiannon red blend wine
Snack: Handful of almonds
Water intake (over the course of the day): 2 liters

Today was a light day.  My total calorie intake was around 1100 calories.  But I wasn’t hungry.  Eating nutrient dense foods goes a long way to keeping you full.  Here is the breakdown on nutrients:
– 29% Protein, 71.9g
– 55% Fat 60.9g
– 16% Carbs 38.6g minus 12.9g of fiber) = 25.7g net carbs

NOTE: This is an extremely low carb plan and is not for everyone.  I do not suggest you jump into this unless you are ready/prepared to go through carb withdrawal.  It took me several attempts to really get into this way of eating before finally sticking with it.  Right around day 3, I would get keto-flu, which is no joke: migraine, nausea, shaky, hypoglycemic symptoms.  Honestly speaking, it straight sucked.  But once you get through that – around day 4 or 5 – you wake up feeling energized.  And every time I go off the range, I have to go back through leto-flu (to a slightly lesser degree).  So, I stay pretty focused.

If you are new to this way of eating (WOE) or considering a new start, I would slowly reduce the carb intake every few days until you get to the level you want.

I start working out tomorrow…stay tuned!

Happy New Everything

As I look around, I am happy to see people accepting new challenges, setting new goals, destroying limitations and embracing positivity.  This is a great time of year for general reflection.  I like to take the time to survey my life to get a sense of where I am in my personal goals.  I keep my most sacred goals to myself, not because I am afraid of failure but because there are just some things I like to cherish and celebrate within.  Of course everybody enjoys a little praise from the masses, but self satisfaction is still a concept that I relish.

On the flip side, there is some benefit to proclaiming other goals.  It provides a sense of accountability.  However, sensibility must also be employed.  Come on people, t’s not east to read a book a week if you are a graduate student with a full time job, 4 children, husband and a non-profit you are getting off the ground (not impossible, just not super practical).  And a true (honest!) self-assessment must be completed.  For this year, I just want to continue on the path I have created for myself.

Hair.

I had the pleasure of getting a DevaCut by the lovely Stacey at Curltopia in Smyrna, GA in November.  It was a great cut, and my hair now has a shape, but I miss my length.  Which begs the question of why I went for length to begin with…I never wore it out before.  But now, since I at least have a shape as a base, I think I *might* be able to wear it out when it gets longer.  *Shoulder Shrug*.

Who knows.  To be honest, I am just stuck in limbo with this hair.  I grow it.  I cut it.  I color it.  I swear off coloring for life.  I color it again.  I cut it again.  I just need to find my way back to the basics; get strong, healthy hair; and celebrate its essence in the moment.

Health.

This past year, I finally reflected on my eating habits.  Rather than setting a goal of losing ‘X’ lbs, I did an overhaul on my eating.  I adopted low carbs, high healthy fats and moderate protein focused on clean eating and cutting out gluten.  I have essentially cut out bread, pasta, rice, legumes and dairy.  It is pretty Paleo.  In the process, I have shed 30 lbs without an hour of exercise.  I am well below my personal “ideal” weight, and I am happy with that number.  But now, I want to tone.  I want to be fit and decrease my overall body fat %.

And so, I want to start the year off with a goal that falls into the #1 category where people make resolutions: ’12 Weeks of Documentation’.  This is where I will show you what I’m eating and doing physically on a daily basis.  I will take some pictures to document the changes.  I read somewhere that it takes 4 weeks for you to see changes in your body, 8 weeks for your friends to see, and 12 weeks for the world to see.  Let’s see what happens in 12 weeks.

Professional Life.

Any one that has followed by completely random and sporadic blogging postings knows that I am pursuing a PharmD.  I am in my final year (comprised of rotations) and am currently applying for residencies.  Deadlines at different programs have been rolling and and programs are extremely competitive.  We will see if I am one of the lucky few that lands a spot!  Meditating and praying on this one!

This Blog.

Simply put, I need to put more effort into documenting things.  I love writing and this blog is my outlet.

Spiritual Life.

I leave this one for last, because it is the one to which I dedicate so much thought.  In 2015, I hope to become grounded in my spiritual life.  My beliefs are one of those things I keep to myself, but I’d like to find a conduit for practicing these beliefs that is amenable to my family of four with very special needs.

What are your goals in 2015?

My LCHF Lifestyle

LCHF = Low Carb, High Fat

I have gotten a couple of PMs about getting into LCHF and thought I would share with everyone.  Getting into the the LCHF lifestyle has been simultaneously extremely difficult and rewarding at the same time.  It took me at least half a dozen attempts to get into this way of eating before it actually “stuck.”  I would get to day 3 or 4, get a screaming headache +/- monster cravings and cave in…usually with either a snickers bar (or 3) or a slice of cake (or 2).  Finally, I decided I had to get through this when I stepped on a scale that read 146lbs, which is the heaviest I have been outside of pregnancy.  My BMI technically placed me in the overweight category.  And it was the final impetus I needed to kick off The OFF Project.  I want to hit 40 and be, well…fabulous.

I had to take away any chance of failure, so I ate the same thing everyday for the first 7 days, to kick in the process of ketosis. For breakfast, I drank a Venti Americano with Half & Half and no sugar.  Lunch was a romaine lettuce salad with grilled chicken, red cabbage, shredded cheddar cheese, one boiled egg, walnut pieces, cucumbers and ranch dressing.  Dinner was salmon (baked with a bit of olive oil drizzled over the top, and lemon pepper seasoning) along with broccoli or cauliflower and another salad.  Twice, I substituted seared tuna steak for salmon.  I got into ketosis around day 5 and was in deep ketosis (the dark, dark purple reading) by the end of the week.  My goal was to eat no more than 20g of net carbs per day (Total carbohydrates minus fiber).  Depending on the contents of my salad, staying below 20 wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

That being said, my energy level was crap in the beginning.  I didn’t understand why, so I researched, read and stalked just about every LCHF blog and forum out there.  The reason I always felt like I was getting run over by a truck everyday?  I wasn’t getting enough fat.  The key to weight loss on any ketogenic diet is making sure you are getting enough quality, healthy fat.  You have to eat fat to burn fat in the absence of carbohydrates and moderate protein.  Another key: moderate protein.  If you do low carb with high protein, you might as well be eating the very carbs you are trying to avoid.  And if you eat too little protein, the body will start to break down lean muscle which is far worse, in my opinion.  I currently keep my protein intake to around 75g per day.  I drink my own version of bulletproof coffee (made with grassed butter, coconut oil and a tad bit of vanilla extract) which has helped with my fat intake (along with some yummy bacon for breakfast from time-to-time).

I wasn’t going to do this, but I feel like transparency is a great tool to understanding.  So…here are my before and after stats.  Keep in mind that I am 5’4″ (64 inches) tall:

  • Weight: 146 –> 129
  • BMI: 25.1 (Overweight) –>22.1 (Normal)
  • Chest: 34.5 –> 32
  • Hips: 38 –> 35
  • Waist: 31 –> 28
  • Arm: 11.5 –> 10.8
  • Leg: 23 –> 21.5

I am at a point where I don’t necessarily want to lose any more weight – I just want to minimize my body fat % and build lean muscle which, in reality, will likely lead to weight gain.  I don’t have the courage (yet!) to post pictures, but I will…in my own time.  This journey has been just as much about building self-esteem and confidence as it has been about “hitting numbers”.  Let me know if you have any further questions!  I am happy to answer what I can, and point you in the direction of all the resources I have used to this point!

End of Box Braids Round 1

Hair looks good, but it is dry and straw-y!

Hair looks good, but it is dry and straw-y!

7/12 – 7/27.

That’s how long this set of box braids lasted.  I didn’t make it to 3 weeks, but I am pleased with 15 days.  I took out my braids and my hair was an absolute bird’s nest.  I had gone swimming the day before the removal and made a MAJOR mistake.  I should have applied conditioner prior to getting into the pool and immediate rinsed and conditioned again following the swim.  My hair felt like hay and was super frizzy, hence the early take down.  Lesson learned…

Hair is big, but it worked for brunch.

Hair is big, but it worked for brunch.

At least it looked good right?  I had someone asked me how much I paid for my hair because he wanted to pick some up (Yes…’he’.  Because Atlanta is oh-so-fabulous and I love it!).  But that was part of my problem…one which exists for many in the natural hair community.  Hair that looks good but doesn’t feel good is the beginning of the end.  It’s a backwards endeavor.  When that is the case, this is when we end up in some stylists chair, upset with them because they take off 4 inches when you go in for a trim.  If we strive to make sure that our hair always feels good, looking good would require much less effort.

Hair pinned back and up...protects ends and minimizes frizz!

Hair pinned back and up…protects ends and minimizes frizz!

So I am embarking on a major week of conditioning.  I should probably do a protein treatment as well.  To be honest, I am not quite sure what combination of hair goods I will use, but I will let you know in an update.  There are so many new products on the market, does anyone have anything that they absolutely can’t do without?  Drop me a line, and I might be able to throw it in the mix!!

 

 

No Box Braids Extensions for Me

So, yeah.

Hair is closer to waist length than I thought.  My thumb on the right is where my natural waist is.  Should be fully WL by year end.

Hair is closer to waist length than I thought. My thumb on the right is where my natural waist is. Should be fully WL by year end.

Box braids with extensions did not happen.  As much as I really, really wanted them, I simply could NOT bring myself to fork over the insulting price that I was quoted to get them done.  I get it.  I have a lot of hair, and – to my surprise – it is much closer to getting back to waist length than I realized – but c’mon son (a little piece of NYC that came with me to ATL)…more than double what other people are paying?  A naturalista’s version of the buyer’s dilemma…

I was thoroughly disappointed.  But I quickly realized that my hair on its own could rock box braids.  I previously did them on a regular basis when I was pregnant with kiddo #1.  Not sure why I fell off…they led to a lot of length retention.  In addition, its a protective style without the added tension that comes from adding hair.

These are just pulled back and secured with a bobby pin.

These are just pulled back and secured with a bobby pin.

And so, they are back.  Box braids without extensions.  I started with freshly washed and detangled hair.  I spritzed each section with water, then coated strands with Oyin Handmade Honey Dew, and finally sealed with shea butter before braiding.  To preserve, I have been spritzing my hair lightly with plain water, shea butter over the roots, and tying down with a silk scarf at night.  This has kept the frizzes at bey.  I have also made sure to spritz and seal my ends every other night.

Chunky, medium-sized braids.

Chunky, medium-sized braids.

I decided to create my own little protective-style-self-challenge.  In a perfect world I would love to keep these in for about 6 weeks, but realistically speaking, I want to start with keeping in the same set of braids for stretches of 3 weeks, separated by 1 week of rest and deep conditioning.  August 2nd marks the end of a 3 week period.  I might have to make some adjustments as I start a new rotation on August 4th, but for now, I’ll just keep spritzing and sealing.

Anyone rock box braids with their own hair on a regular basis?  How long do you keep them in?  What’s your regimen?