How do you cope?

Sharp cheddar cheese and Wheat thins….those use to be my coping mechanism for when I was stressed out. I could easily crush a brick and box on my own, and always felt terribly later. Well, what now? What now when life is stressful and you want to escape? I know I could easily dive into old habits of indulging and gorging, but I’ve worked way too hard and for way too long to achieve and accomplish what I have already.

So coping mechanism. Self care. These are the pieces that I am focusing on now because with 45..make that 44 days until my wedding and 77 days until I graduate from my masters, I feel my stress level increasing and yesterday I gave into a craving-Frosted Flakes of all things. Anyhow, here is my commitment to myself for self-care practices that I know work for me and love:

  1. Taking a nice epsom salt bath
  2. Listen to some good pump up music and hit the gym.
  3. Call a friend/family member and talk about the stress or cravings. Support!
  4. Cuddle with my love, cat or dog
  5. Drink a lot of water until the feeling passes.

These are a list of a few things that help me when I’m feeling stressed or having cravings. I will report back in next week about how this worked for me🙂 What are some of your self care/ coping mechanisms?

Lack of Sleep & How it Affects Your Weight

Lack of sleep = Stress on the body = weight gain, premature aging, hair loss, hormone imbalances, infertility, and lowered immune function.

Losing out on sleep creates a viscous cycle in your body, making you more prone to various factors contributing to weight gain.

The more sleep-deprived you are, the higher your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite, and it’s not like you’re going to be suddenly ravenous for kale salads, either. It takes a bit of willpower to choose the salad over the sandwich. When you’re tired, you tend to go for whatever is going to be easy and make you feel better in the moment.

When you’re stressed, your body tries to produce serotonin to calm you down. The easiest way to do that is by eating high-fat, high-carb foods that produce a neurochemical reaction.

A lack of sleep also hinders your body’s ability to process the sweet stuff. When you’re sleep deprived, the mitochondria in your cells that digest fuel start to shut down. Sugar remains in your blood, and you end up with high blood sugar. Losing out on sleep can make fat cells 30 percent less able to deal with insulin, according to a study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The relationship between sleep loss and weight gain is a strong one, borne out in a variety of studies over the years. Large population studies show that both adults and children are more likely to be overweight and obese the less they sleep at night. In smaller, controlled studies, scientists find that when people are allowed to sleep eight hours one night and then half that amount on another, they end up eating more on the days when they’ve had less sleep. One pivotal study at the University of Colorado showed that losing just a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row caused people to pack on an average of about two pounds.

Other studies have found that the underlying effects of sleep deprivation on the body can in many ways be pronounced. The stress hormone cortisol climbs and markers of inflammation rise. Hormones that stimulate appetite increase, while hormones that blunt it drop. People become less sensitive to insulin, raising their risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Hormonal Havoc

Exactly how lack of sleep affects our ability to control weight has a lot to do with our hormones:

  • Ghrelin

    Two key hormones involved are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is a “go” hormone. It tells us to GO EAT.  When we are sleep-deprived, research has discovered, our bodies produce more ghrelin.

  • Leptin

    Another hormone, leptin, is a “stop” hormone. It tells us that we’re full and satisfied, and that we can STOP EATING.  When we’re sleep-deprived, we make less leptin.

    Summing up:  More ghrelin and less leptin equals weight gain.

    And weight gain, unfortunately, can lead to another sleep disorder, called sleep apnea, which robs us of even more sleep, which can lead to even more weight gain.

  • Insulin

    Another hormone affected by sleep disorders is insulin, research is learning.  When we don’t sleep well, our cells resist, or block, insulin’s efforts to ferry glucose into our cells. Yes, it’s as if sleep deprivation is making us diabetic.

    There’s more bad news.  Insulin promotes the release of leptin, the “stop eating” hormone, so when we’re sleep deprived and our cells are rejecting insulin, our bodies make less leptin, which means more eating, and more weight gain.

Ways to Improve Your Sleep

To optimize sleep during the night, one must also optimize factors during waking hours including food, supplements and exposure to light/outdoors.

Getting a quality night of sleep actually begins when you wake at the beginning of the day and there are many factors that can have a dramatic impact on sleep length and quality.

Foods to Improve Sleep Naturally

Just as foods can impact health in other areas, foods can contribute to good or bad sleep. To help improve your chances of quality sleep, these are the best foods to consume:

  • Healthy Fats– such as olive & coconut oil, organic and pasture raised meats, eggs, avocado and butter all help provide your body with the necessary building blocks to manufacture sleep hormones.
  • High Antioxidant Foods– Also important for hormone production and removal of toxins that can impede sleep. Focus on low-glycemic vegetables and herbal or green teas (green tea early in the day only).
  • Quality Proteins, especially at dinner: For best sleep, it is better to stop eating at least 4 hours before bedtime, and preferably by 7pm every night. Your evening meal should include proteins, vegetables and healthy fats. Eating enough protein at this meal will help prepare the body to enter the sleep cycle.


  • Sugars: Sugars and refined carbohydrates, especially at night, can cause a blood sugar spike and crash that will lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep. Many people crave carbohydrates (chocolate, anyone?) in the evening, which is a sign of an underlying hormone problem to begin with but eating carbohydrates late at night can cause problems falling asleep or lead to waking in the middle of the night when blood sugar levels drop.
  • Grains– Grains can have an effect on health, and if you have an intolerance to grains, this can cause physical stress in your body, which alters the hormone cycle and can impede sleep.
  • Vegetable Oils– These artificial fats can cause problems in new skin formation (skin cancer) they can cause problems in the hormone cycle, as hormones need (saturated) fats for production and giving the body the wrong building blocks for hormones can wreak havoc with hormone production.

Supplements to Improve Sleep Naturally

Sadly, it is often difficult to get enough nutrients from foods as our soil is depleted and foods are picked before ripe so they can be shipped around the world. Especially if you struggle from a health challenge or sleep problem, it is often helpful to supplement some key nutrients, at least in the short term, as you build your body back up.

  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil/High Vitamin Butter Oil Blend – Take it in the morning and at night (about 1/2 tsp each time). The presence of fat soluble vitamins A, D and K plus Omega-3s can explain why this particular supplement is great for promoting hormone production and improving sleep. For this reason, it also helps balance other hormones (in cases of infertility, etc) and is great for growing children.
  • Magnesium- Many people are deficient in Magnesium and this particular deficiency can have a big impact on sleep quality. Some people find that just adding a product like Natural Calm about 30 minutes before bedtime can really improve sleep.
  • Gelatin– Many of us eat a disproportionate amount of animal muscle meat compared to bone broths, organ meats and marrow. If you aren’t a fan of consuming liver daily, drinking natural gelatin (from grass-fed sources) can help balance your intake. Consumption of only muscle meats, which are higher in stress hormones, can cause problems in the sleep cycle. You could drink a cup of chamomile or herbal tea with a tablespoon of gelatin dissolved in it each night a couple hours before bed.
  • If you have a solid diet and are already taking the things above, specific sleep related herbs might help your fall asleep. Try my some chamomile or catnip to help you relax.
  • 5-HTP is a supplement that may help you fall asleep and improve symptoms of insomnia. It is a natural compound that gets converted by the brain into Serotonin and Melatonin – two neurotransmitters that are responsible for regulating sleep patterns. Take 50 to 100 mg 30 minutes before bedtime.

A Healthy Daily Routine = Restful Sleep

A daily (and nightly) routine can make a big difference in how easily you fall and stay asleep. You’ll have to experiment to find out what works best for you but here are some helpful suggestions:

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time, even on weekends to keep your hormone cycle regular.
  • Eat a high protein/high fat snack a few hours before bed (7pm or earlier) or consume a lot at dinner.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Install F.lux  (it is free) on all computers and devices to reduce blue light and help you sleep better (it is also easier on the eyes!)
  • Drink 8 – 12 glasses of water during the day and stop drinking about 2 hours before bed so you don’t have to wake up to use the bathroom.
  • Take a soothing salt bath about an hour before bed with some relaxing music or a great book.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day (even if you aren’t trying to get your vitamin D). The exposure to the wide-spectrum light during the day boosts serotonin levels, which will help improve melatonin levels at night
  • Avoid artificial light as much as possible after the sun goes down.
  • Pray, meditate or find a way to reduce stress.
  • Give yourself a massage before bed to release stress and help relax
  • Stretch before bed to relax muscles.

Good sleep habits and sleep routines are a must for anyone who wants to improve their sleep. By following the sleep guidelines presented above, you can greatly improve how fast you fall asleep each night. Honoring your nightly sleep routine can greatly impact the overall quality and quantity of your sleep. Remember, consistency and self-discipline are the keys to implementing and sustaining good sleep habits that support a good night’s rest.


ghrelin, how to lose weight, leptin, sleep, sleep and weight loss

10 False Things People Say About Low Carb Diets

When arguing about nutrition, it can be hard to get your point across. People often seem biased against ideas that don’t fit with their philosophy. When the topic of low-carb turns up, many people dismiss it, call it a “fad” diet and say that it is either harmful or impossible to stick to.

Here are 10 things people say about low-carb diets that just don’t make sense.

1. Low Carb Diets Are Hard to Stick to

I often see the claim that excluding entire food groups can be hard and that it is impossible to sustain such an “extreme” change in the way you eat.

This point kind of makes sense. Not allowing yourself certain types of foods could lead to feelings of deprivation. But the thing is, all diets restrict something. They either restrict food groups or restrict calories. For some people, the calorie restriction approach may be more feasible. But it is NOT the only way.

Many people don’t seem to understand how low-carb diets work and what their main advantage is when it comes to weight loss.

This is the fact that eating low-carb leads to automatic reduction in appetite and effortless calorie restriction. Compare that to the low-fat, “balanced” diet – which requires you to count calories and be hungry! This is a graph from one of the studies that compared low-carb and low-fat diets. The low-carb dieters are eating until fullness, while the low-fat dieters are calorie restricted.


I don’t know about you, but I hate being hungry. It is a very uncomfortable feeling. If I get hungry, I eat!

If there is a diet plan out there that allows me to eat until fullness and still lose weight, then that sure is hell is the one I will choose.

In most studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, more people in the low-carb groups make it to the end. If anything, they are easier to stick to.

Bottom Line: Low-carb diets are not harder to stick to. These diets reduce hunger and more people in the low-carb groups make it to the end of the studies.

2. Low Carb Diets Exclude Food Groups That Are Essential

It is true that if you want to reap the full benefits of low-carb, then you must remove certain food items from your diet. These are primarily sugars and starches and include grains, legumes, candies, sugary soft drinks and other high carb foods.

If you want to go very low on the carbs and get into ketosis, you must also cut back on fruits. Despite the hype about these foods, there is no actual need for them in the diet.

Humans didn’t have access to most of these foods throughout evolutionary history. We didn’t start eating grains until about 10.000 years ago and we certainly didn’t start eating processed junk foods until very recently. There simply is NO nutrient in starchy or sugary foods that we can’t get in greater amounts from animal foods or vegetables.

And remember that low-carb diets are NOT no-carb. There’s room for plenty of vegetables, more than enough to satisfy your need for all the nutrients.

Bottom Line: There is no actual need for foods like grains in the diet. We can get all the nutrients from other foods in greater amounts.

3. Low Carb Diets Lead to a State Known as Ketosis, Which Causes Harm

Nutrition professionals often say that low-carb diets cause ketoacidosis, a medical emergency that can kill you. Anyone with basic knowledge of biochemistry knows that this is completely false.

They’re confusing the words “ketosis” and “ketoacidosis” – which are vastly different. Ketosis does happen on low-carb diets, especially when you eat under 50 grams of carbs per day. When the body isn’t getting any carbs, it releases a lot of fats from the fat tissues, which go to the liver and are turned into so-called ketone bodies.

Ketone bodies are molecules that can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide energy for the brain when it isn’t receiving enough glucose.

This is the body’s natural response to a very low carb intake and also happens during starvation. This is NOT to be confused with ketoacidosis, which is something that only happens in uncontrolled diabetes (mainly type I) and involves the bloodstream being flooded with glucose and ketone bodies in extremely large amounts.

Ketoacidosis is dangerous, that’s true. But that simply has NOTHING to do with low-carb diets. The metabolic state of ketosis has been proven to be therapeutic in many ways. It can help with epilepsy, brain cancer and type II diabetes, to name a few (3, 4, 5).

Ketosis is a good thing, NOT something to be feared!

Bottom Line: Ketosis is a completely natural phenomenon that has nothing but positive effects and it is NOT to be confused with ketoacidosis, which only happens in uncontrolled diabetes.

4. Low Carb Diets Are High in Saturated Fat and Therefore Dangerous

On a low-carb diet, you’re encouraged to eat foods like meat and eggs, which happen to be rich in saturated fat and cholesterol. This is claimed to cause all sorts of problems, raise your LDL cholesterol and risk of heart disease and whatnot. But the thing is, saturated fats and cholesterol aren’t bad for you. This is a myth that has never been proven.

A massive study that came out in 2010 looked at 21 prospective studies that included a total of 347.747 subjects. Their results: there is absolutely no association between saturated fat and heart disease (6).

Despite being high in saturated fat, low-carb diets lead to a reduction in blood levels of saturated fat, because they become the body’s preferred fuel source (7). Saturated fats in the diet raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change LDL from small, dense (very, very bad) to Large LDL – which is harmless (8, 9). We can say the same for foods that are high in cholesterol.

For example, eggs have been demonized by nutrition professionals and the media. Despite the fear mongering, consuming eggs does NOT raise your bad LDL or your risk of heart disease (10, 11).

If anything, eggs are among the healthiest foods on the planet and eating them can provide various health benefits.

Bottom Line: Eating saturated fats or cholesterol is not harmful in any way. This is a myth that has been proven to be completely false.

5. Low Carb Diets Are Not Proven to be Safe in The Long Term

I often hear claims that low-carb diets are not proven to be safe in the long term.

This is not true. We do have randomized studies that went on for as long as 2 years, with no adverse effects and nothing but positive effects on health (12).

There is absolutely no reason to believe that these diets should cause problems down the line.

There are several populations around the world that have eaten almost no carbohydrates for very long periods of times (their whole lives). These include the Inuit, which ate almost no plant foods, and the Masai in Africa which ate mostly meat and drank raw milk and blood.

Both of these populations ate lots of meat and fat, were in excellent health, with no evidence of many of the chronic diseases that are killing Western populations by the millions. But what we DO have are long-term studies on low-fat diets. In the Women’s Health Initiative, the largest randomized controlled trial ever on diet, low-fat diets were proven to be completely ineffective.

After 7.5 years, the low-fat dieters weighed only 0.4 kg (1 pound) less than women eating the standard western junk food diet. There was also no reduction in heart disease (13, 14).

Bottom Line: Studies showing health benefits of low-carb have gone for as long as 2 years. Populations that have eaten low-carb, high-fat diets for long periods of time are in excellent health.

6. Most of The Weight Loss on Low Carb Diets is Water Weight

It is true that in the first week or so, people on low-carb diets lose a lot of water weight. The glycogen stores in the muscles and liver go down and along with them the water they tend to hold on to. Additionally, low-carb diets reduce insulin levels, which cause the kidneys to release some of the sodium and water they are holding on to (15, 16).

But after you’ve lost that initial amount of water weight then you will continue to lose weight, but this time it’s coming from your body fat stores.

A study that used DEXA scanners, which can measure body composition with supreme accuracy, revealed that low-carb caused 3.4 kg (7.5 pounds) of fat loss and 1.1 kg (2.4 pounds) of muscle gain in only 6 weeks (17). Another study that compared low-carb and low-fat diets showed that the low-carb group lost significantly more body fat, especially from the abdominal area where the “unhealthiest” fat in the body is (18).

Bottom Line: In the first week of low-carb eating, a lot of excess water is shed from the body. After that, the weight is coming from body fat stores.

7. Low Carb Diets Lead to Deficiencies in Vital Nutrients

Certain foods in the western diet actually lead to a reduction in nutrient absorption. Grains, for example, are very high in a substance called phytic acid, which hinders absorption of iron, zinc and calcium from the diet (19).

Additionally, avoiding wheat (including whole wheat) should lead to improvements in Vitamin D levels, because wheat fiber has been shown to reduce blood levels of this very important vitamin (20). Low-carb diets don’t contain wheat, are low in phytic acid and therefore don’t contain substances that “steal” nutrients from the body.

Most natural, unprocessed foods that are high in fat like eggs, meat, fish and nuts are incredibly nutritious and especially rich in fat soluble vitamins, which low-fat diets lack. Low-carb diets tend to be high in vegetables. Personally I had never eaten as many vegetables as I did when I started eating low-carb. Now I eat vegetables with every meal.

Not a single one of the studies on low-carb diets in adults has demonstrated any signs of a nutrient deficiency!

Bottom Line: Low-carb diets allow for plenty of nutritious animal foods and vegetables, which provide all the nutrients necessary for humans.

8. Low Carb Diets Don’t Supply Carbs That The Brain Needs to Function

According to certain health authorities, the recommended daily minimum for carbohydrate is 130 grams. The reason is that the brain is assumed to be dependent on glucose for fuel. This is half true. There are certain neurons in the brain that can’t burn anything but glucose, but other parts of the brain can do just fine with ketone bodies. When we eat very little carbs, our requirement for glucose goes down. Some parts of the brain start burning ketone bodies instead of glucose.

Even when we eat zero carbohydrates (which I don’t recommend btw), the body can produce ALL the glucose it needs out of proteins and fats via a process known as gluconeogenesis (21). Low-carb diets don’t starve the brain, they don’t make you feel slow (unless perhaps in the first few days while you’re adapting) and they give the brain a stable source of energy throughout the day.

When your brain is burning ketones for fuel, you won’t experience the same blood sugar crashes and afternoon dips in energy. Personally my energy never feels as stable as when I’ve been eating little carbs for many days in a row.

Bottom Line: The body can produce all the glucose it needs from proteins and fats if it isn’t getting any from the diet.

9. Low Carb Diets Raise Your Risk of Heart Disease

It used to be “common knowledge” that a low-carb, high-fat diet would raise your risk of all sorts of diseases, most notably heart disease. This hypothesis has been tested and proven to be false.

Since the year 2002, over 20 randomized controlled trials have been performed that compare low-carb and low-fat diets. They all lead to a similar conclusion. Low-carb diets:

Reduce body fat much more than low-fat diets, even though the low-carb groups are allowed to eat until fullness (2, 22).
Cause a greater reduction in blood pressure (23, 24).
Lower blood sugar and improve symptoms of diabetes (25, 26).
Lower blood triglycerides much more (27, 28).
Change the pattern of LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol from small, dense LDL (very bad) to Large LDL (29, 30).
Increase HDL (the good) cholesterol much more than low-fat diets (31).
They improve ALL biomarkers of health MORE than the low-fat diet still recommended by the authorities.Still, many nutrition professionals have the audacity to claim that low-carb diets are dangerous and continue to peddle their failed low-fat dogma that is literally hurting more people than it helps.
Bottom Line: Low-carb diets actually improve all biomarkers of health much more than the low-fat diet still peddled by the mainstream.

10. Low Carb Diets Are Not Proven to Work
Fortunately, despite the low-carb diet nowhere to be found in mainstream guidelines, health professionals are taking notice.

Many doctors and quite a few dietitians have seen these studies and acknowledged low-carb, real-food based diets and started using them in their practice.

At the end of the day, there are few things as well proven in nutrition as the superiority of low-carb diets compared to the standard of care, a calorie restricted, low-fat diet (32, 33, 34).

Low-carb diets are the easiest, healthiest AND most effective way to lose weight and reverse metabolic disease like diabetes. It is a scientific fact.


Diet, Keto, LCHF, Weight Loss
, high fat, insulin, Keto, ketogenic, LCHF, low sugar, overweight, weight loss

Nada Pasta Salad

I have been very busy and unable to post lately.  I was craving something fresh and healthy today and found a recipe for healthy alternative to a pasta salad.

Here is a link to the original recipe that has some phase 4 options:

I made it phase 1 compliant:

Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1/2 Tbsp Italian herbs
1/2 tsp dijon mustard/brown mustard no sugar added
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Combine all dressing ingredients in jar and shake until combined. Note: It’s best to let this sit (sealed, refrigerated) for 24 hours before using. This gives the herbs time to infuse.

No Pasta Salad:

zucchini, spiralized
small red onion, sliced (optional)
organic cherry tomatoes
Yellow bell pepper, chopped
Orange bell pepper, chopped
Fresh chopped parsley as garnish

I added celery to mine as well

Place all salad ingredients in serving bowl. Add 1 tsp dressing per serving and rosa salad. Serve cold!  Yummy!!!!


Balsamic Cauliflower Steaks


Very easy to make these steaks, they’re tender and have that delicious caramelized roasted taste. Cut cauliflower in 1″ steaks, spray with olive oil on both sides and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder. Place on a baking sheet in a preheated 425 degree oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown; flip halfway through.
In this version, I reduced some Ideal Protein Balsamic dressing by placing in a saucepan and cooking down till thickened. Basted the cauliflower for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

TIP: Weigh the steaks before cooking so you know how much you have toward your daily veggie intake. 3.5 oz. = 1 C.

Shared from FB Group:  Janeva’s Ideal Recipes


Does your weigh in weigh on you?

I have always been a person who thrives on accountability. A big group project due? Why yes I would like to spearhead it and make sure it is done on time. Oh, you need help with planning a potluck? Let me assist! The same is true when it comes to my weight loss journey. I like the accountability of knowing that I have my weigh in each week and that I am accountable to myself to stick with a program. Being in “the great wide open” AKA maintenance, we are our accountability buddies and having the weigh in each week makes me aware that I will have to step on the scale honestly.

This honesty is something important in phases 1-4. Seeing the results, meeting with the coaches, and checkin in holds such value.

What I have found that works best for me is to have my “cheat meal” for the week as close to right after my weigh in as possible. I like having the accountability of the weigh in so I can’t “stray” too far off course. My weigh in is tomorrow–I did over indulge last night, but today is a new day. Today I will be eating Phase 2 because that is my reset space and my body craves it. One day at a time. Keep Calm and weigh in😀