This wasn’t meant to go up for a few more weeks, but it’s my birthday today and I realized it was probably time.
It’s been… years at this point, since I last did a dedicated post about my personal health battles. It’s never something I’ve been shy about discussing, but we’re way overdue for a dedicated chat.
Though I have always been open about my health – and struggles with managing said health, the thing that most interferes with my life didn’t have a name until this past year. Well I suppose it always had a name, but it took most of my life to find out what it was. I went pretty in-depth in a [much] earlier post about certain aspects of dealing with my invisible illnesses, but it is quite outdated at this point so be prepared for a little backstory. (I am not going to be discussing my medications in this post even though I have talked about them in the past and some have changed since then, it just wasn’t integral to the story I’m sharing here, but I will happily answer any questions).
I guess I’ve always had health issues. Thinking back, I remember pain as young as four, I remember signs of interstitial cystitis and irritable bowel at nine and 10. Of course I didn’t have the words then, and even if I did, I don’t think I understood that what was happening was very very wrong.
My parents love to tell this story about my difficulty grasping Russian and English languages simultaneously and telling them, at four years old, that my hand felt nauseous. Knowing everything we know now, that story is a lot less funny.
I remember driving with my family from Paris to Nice (about 12 hours) and begging to stop because I kept having to pee. I was a few weeks shy of turning 10 and remember asking my mom if her panty liners would be sufficient if I couldn’t hold it between stops. (Nevermind that I was also exhausted from repeated attempts to not urinate on myself at literal-hole-in-the-floor French rest stop toilets).
If you didn’t know, in addition to BekaNEggs (that’s the page you’re reading right now), I also run/write a makeup + beauty blog called Makeup Nerdery. That means, in addition to my seemingly endless consumption of food and fitness content, I also spend a lot of time reading about and watching stuff relating to makeup, beauty, skincare, etc. Lately I have seen a lot of YouTubers making these “what I eat in a week” videos and while they are fun to watch, and I’m not here to judge anyone else’s eating habits (unless you are my friend in real life), they are made more to satisfy our nosiness and curiosity than to actually provide any useful information. I’m here to do the opposite, or at least… a little bit of both.
A few things before we get into this: I’m not sharing this to show off or brag, I’m not sharing this to make you feel bad about your own food choices, I am not counting macros at the moment (or calories ever), and I am a Chronic Meal Repeater. I’m sharing this to show you how I make food-that-makes-me-feel-good work for me and my life. If this gives you some motivation, some ideas, or even some comfort in how little time and effort I actually spend on my food, then this week of trying to photograph everything I put in my mouth was totally worth it. I am also not measuring or weighing anything right now, but will share amounts of food whenever I actually know.
One thing I will say is that I *do* plan out my meals for the entire week every weekend and then The Boyfriend and I do all of our grocery shopping on Sunday between our local farmer’s market and the grocery store it shares a parking lot with.
For the purposes of this post, “collagen drink” refers to my morning shaker bottle concoction which consists of 10-12oz Nespresso decaf coffee, 4oz New Barn unsweetened almond milk, 2 scoops of Vital Proteins collagen peptides, and lots of ice. In addition to all the items I list, I also try to drink three 32oz jars of water every day.
So, what I eat in a typical Food Freedom week. This week included the tail end of Whole30 reintroductions, Whole30 and Paleo meals, and some Paleo snacks. Let me know if you want to see a full Whole30 week!
In the realm of paleo, primal, keto, slow carb, and Whole30…what you choose to shovel into your face each day really comes down to personal preference. For most of the last 4.5 years, I have been following the slow carb diet as per Tim Ferriss’s book The 4-Hour Body. This summer, after a second round of Whole30 (which you can read about here), I’ve decided to make a small yet simultaneously substantial change. I’m going paleo. Strict paleo, not the “here I made paleo blueberry muffins” kind of nonsense. Basically Whole30 with select days to enjoy my food freedom.
I could probably spend a full day talking your ears eyes off about why I’m making the switch, and The Boyfriend is joining me too, but instead I’ve broken it down into a few main points.
Results: This round of Whole30 has been so wonderfully successful for me, for both physical health and mental health and yes, weight loss too. My weight is something I’ve struggled with quite a bit since my muscle disease started showing itself back in 2010. (Which reminds me, I haven’t done a chronic illness update in years at this point, coming right up!) I made more progress in weight loss and chronic pain relief on this Whole30 than in the last few years of slow carb combined. A paleo-leaning lifestyle just works better with my body and my life and really, that’s enough on its own to make me switch things up.
In a previous post I mentioned that The Boyfriend and I (and 11 of our friends and relatives that I annoyed into submission) would be doing a Whole30 challenge this month. This is my second time doing it, and I had great results in terms of health and how I felt after the first one we did in November 2015 (pro-tip: would not recommend doing it over a major holiday).
This past week, after all the holiday festivities, I Whole30-fied our entire fridge and pantry – ditched all the things that make us sick and we should avoid longterm (anything with soy, really) and hid all the other indulgent stuff that wasn’t going to expire for a while (mostly just the hot fudge and the balsamic glaze). With so many of our friends (and my mom!) doing Whole30 for the first time, I was reminded just how much work went into the “spices and condiments” category of finding approved foods. Even for the basics, like salad dressing, the compliant options available to us are often limited at best. Five years into the slow carb game and on the heels of my second Whole30 and a new paleo life, here are the spice blends, condiments, and other pantry staples I rely on to get meals done. Each item will be labeled for Paleo, Whole30, and/or Slow Carb.
Let me know in the comments if you guys like this “Essentials” series, I’ve got plenty more ideas!
Teeny Tiny Spice Company Tandoori Masala – paleo, whole30, slow carb – Sadly my beloved British Curry is not Whole30 compliant due to some added maple sugar (ok for paleo), but the brand’s Tandoori Masala is an excellent consolation prize. I love to use it in my Indian style chicken curries with onions, garlic, and broccoli. It also makes a great marinade mixed with coconut milk for slow cooked chicken, crispy chicken thighs*, and lamb too.
* this recipe calls for both the British Curry and Tandoori Masala blends, you can definitely just use the Tandoori Masala! I would probably add some turmeric for good measure.
If you checked out my most recent recipe or follow me on Instagram, you may have picked up on some recent little grumblings about Whole30. It’s often referred to as the Whole30 challenge, but it’s essentially a 30 day elimination diet that sounds a lot like paleo on steroids… or I guess, paleo on definitely no steroids whatsoever. The Boyfriend and I completed a round of Whole30 in November of 2015 and despite the struggle of sticking to the rules through Thanksgiving and managing the lack of local/seasonal produce in the winter, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. We learned so much about our bodies – well, my body mostly – like that I am super sensitive to soy, and for the sake of my skin as well as any living creature in my general vicinity, I should probably not consume dairy, even on slow carb’s allotted cheat days.
We’re coming up on two years since our first Whole30 and I have been itching for another one. If we could make it through a round in November, then summer – with farmers’ markets and damn near everything in bloom – should be a piece of cake (except actually not cake at all because it’s definitely not Whole30 approved).
Four years ago, I started this blog to share my food and fitness journey as I navigated chronic pain no one could identify and a correlating weight gain I just couldn’t shake. My goal was to share my recipes and workouts so anyone wanting to follow along could do so. About halfway through grad school, I lost my way. I was swamped with school, working full-time, and giving myself very little space for self-care. This past September I finally got a name for my muscle pain (for those following along, that’s over six years since my pain started) and despite a concrete diagnosis and an excellent support system in The Boyfriend, I still never really got my shit together. I guess what I’m trying to say is yes, I lost my purpose for a while, but I’m on a mission to find it again and finally make some longterm progress. I’m back and I’m here to stay.
Stick around for lots of new slow carb and paleo recipes and some of my workout routines as I try to gain back the strength my disease has tried to wrangle away from me. Be sure to follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat for weekly meal plans, workouts, and cooking demos plus updates on my adventures with Glycogen Storage Disease Type VII.
SlowCarbSnacktime will be on hiatus through the end of January. You can follow all my travel adventures on instagram.
In the meantime, check out the 2014 “annual report” for SlowCarbSnacktime.com:
Here’s an excerpt:
Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 68,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Wow, grad school is kicking my butt right now. I never had any intention of letting myself get this far away from the blog and for that, I apologize. People said it would happen, but I just didn’t want to believe it! I’m up to my eyeballs in homework these days so I’ve been pretty slow on writing and updating new recipes. That said, I’m still super active on Instagram and Facebook, so follow me there for all sorts of news, info, and updates while I work out some new recipes.
So let’s see, important things to share…
#1. I haven’t discussed it too much yet, but if everything goes according to plan, I will be traveling to Israel this January! I am so very excited for this trip, and while I definitely will be eating anything I can taste while I’m there, I’ll be walking it all off with one of my biggest fears (and part of the reason I postponed this trip for so long) – a hike up Masada. I’ve been training extra hard in anticipation for this trip, so if you follow me on Fitocracy you’ll be seeing a lot more deadlifts and cardio for the next few months!
#2. Following a heated discussion on Reddit, I just wanted to reiterate that, despite the fear-mongering and ignoring-actual-science approach many health writers/blogs use to back up their claims, that is not what I do here at Slow Carb Snacktime. While I do reference Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Body a lot, I also do my research and share or cite peer-reviewed studies whenever possible (obviously not going to happen on my own recipes). Please, question everything and do your research before uprooting your lifestyle to avoid “yoga mat chemical” because some uneducated twit said you should. End rant.
#3. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may have noticed a lot more makeup-related posts lately. It’s my newest hobby and the most relaxing form of self-expression (for me) outside of the kitchen. When I’m not neglecting social media, you can find me occasionally posting on my makeup-focused tumblr as well.
#4. As you may have seen mentioned on both Facebook and Instagram, The Boyfriend and I have decided a new challenge is in order. After a successful Sober September, but otherwise stalled weight loss (lots of lifting progress though), we’ve decided to go ahead and give Whole30 a whirl! It’s a little different from slow carb, more like super strict paleo, but the mission is the same (high protein, moderate fat, no sugar). There’s no cheat day, but some fruit is permitted so I’m really looking forward to trying an alternative approach to improving health and losing weight (which you’re not allowed to track at all for 30 days!) It’s just us for Thanksgiving so we’re gonna power through and go to Christmas Eve. I’ll post as many recipes as I can, and will definitely be sharing other news and info about our whole30 adventures frequently via Facebook and Instagram.
#5. In response to the excessive liberties people seem to be taking with their low carb high protein lifestyles, abuse of “cleaneating” and other related tags, and the frustration it causes me, I’ll be using the tag #THISISWHATCLEANEATINGACTUALLYLOOKSLIKE as much as possible on all my Whole30 posts from now on. If you work hard to stick to your program rather than finding a way to work around the rules, please join me in using this tag. As so eloquently stated in the Whole30 rules, a sentiment I have often shared – “Continuing to eat your old, unhealthy foods made with Whole30 ingredients is totally missing the point, and will tank your results faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” Remember, these are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, regardless of the ingredients.”
#6. A popular topic on YouTube, I’ve been watching a lot of “Fall Favorites” videos lately so I’ve decided to share mine as well:
InTouch leggings – My favorite leggings, you can dress them up or down without having to worry about your underwear showing through.
Adidas Amberlight wedge sneaker – I’ve been on the hunt for a good wedge sneaker forever and finally found these babies at the Adidas store last week. They are so comfortable and look great with anything, plus they’re actually normal width for normal feet (unlike super-narrow Nike).
50lb kettlebell– The 50-pound kettlebell is my new go-to for workouts to help with mobility and flexibility for my deadlifts.
Purity Farms Organic Ghee – Find it at your local Whole Foods, this clarified butter is some of the best I’ve had and makes for an absolutely delicious Whole30-compliant omelette!
Fed Up– The newest food documentary to hit theaters, this one was spearheaded by Katie Couric and takes a look at sugar consumption in the US.
Kate Spade planner – Between grad school, two blogs, home ownership with The Boyfriend, and job hunting, I rely pretty heavily on my adorable Kate Spade planner to keep me organized.
Sherpani bag– The newest addition to my purse collection, this cross-body tote is perfect for travel or an active lifestyle in the crazy Oregon weather. I picked this up for my Israel trip, but it’s already my new favorite.
Tretorn Rain Boots – I used to hate rainboots and pretty much refused to wear them, riiight up until we moved to Oregon. Now I am constantly grateful my mom made me buy a pair to keep my toes dry in the never-ending rain!
Lauren Conrad Beauty – Surprisingly simple, but helpful book full of tips, advice, and beauty basics.
Am I the worst? I’m kind of the worst. It’s been almost two months since I’ve last posted, but between the new house, starting grad school, and heading back to Philly for two weeks, it’s been pretty crazy around here! In addition to the insanity of life, if you’ve been following me on Facebook, you know that we just got our (absolutely amazing) new refrigerator this past week – yup, we spent the first six weeks living out of a mini fridge… hence, no new recipes (there was no room!)
Don’t worry though, I’m back now! I’ve got a bunch of new recipes in the works (slow carb, keto, and even cheat day), plus a few new guest posts to keep things interesting, and my first academic paper to share!
Hopefully this will keep you guys busy until I get my new dishes in order:
This is my first academic research paper for my graduate program and I am so excited that I was able to write about a topic I am already so passionate about. It’s definitely fueled the fire to keep me on track with my personal health and fitness journey and I’m really looking forward to continuing my research on the subject of diet and chronic illness –
As some of you already know, The Boyfriend and I are moving this weekend, which means my kitchen(s) will be in shambles for the next few days and new recipes will be on hold. Thankfully, my lovely friend Molly, creator and author of Deadlifts & Discoveries, is here to save the day and keep you guys busy until I have something new to share. Until then, Happy 4th of July! Have a fantastic weekend, please be safe, please drink responsibly, and please please PLEASE DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.
So lately I’ve had great success from tracking my food intake and keeping an eye on my macros. While I have no issues experimenting with my own body, I’m grateful to have someone else with a bit more experience to share her story and fill in the blanks.
I absolutely love Molly’s approach, even though it’s not 100% slow carb. Personally, I try to eat between 80-90% of my TDEE and aim for 1g of protein and 0.5g of fat per pound of bodyweight, you already know I’m shooting for as little sugar as possible, but I understand that isn’t the case for everyone and I’m not here to tell you what you’re doing is wrong (unless it’s really really wrong). Even though it’s not slow carb, I think it’s good to understand all facets of fitness and nutrition so you can make an educated decision. Let’s see what Molly has to say about that.
From Ms. Deadlifts & Discoveries herself:
“Hello from the Right Coast! Our lovely blogess here has asked me to do a guest post about calculating and tracking macros and calories for performance, for aesthetics, for whatever you like. I am not a registered, licensed, certified, professional, expert anything; just a girl with a passion for health and lifting, and a compulsive reading habit. I come from a very disordered eating background, but I did learn how to weigh, approximate, and track food early on. Not healthfully, but at least I was accurate.
I meticulously track everything I eat. Rather than punishing myself harshly anytime I went over my goal of zero calories (you read that right. I aimed for literally no food every single day from the age of 14 to 20), now I track to ensure that I’m getting the most out of every last one of the many calories I put in my body and making sure it’s enough to allow me to squat more than my bodyweight for reps, run a 5k, climb trees, haul 500lbs of bricks, summit a mountain with a full pack. I’m a 5’3”, 119lb girl and I eat more than the average adult male, and I lose fat and inches doing it. I attribute my high caloric needs solely to heavy lifting, as muscle burns calories just by existing. More muscle means more food. More food means I’m less likely to smother my boyfriend with a pillow when he starts snoring. Not to mention that I look and feel the best I ever have in my life, and a million times better than my 108lb high school foolishness.
Calculating and detailing my training and diet is one of my favorite pastimes, no joke. I’m a total data junkie, and love to analyze, compare, contrast, make graphs, note trends, integrate other data, and organize things.
All that said, I’m not incredibly obsessive about it. Nor do I need to be. I figure life is hard enough, why stress about it if 10g of carbs come from pretzels in hot sauce and not a sweet potato sometimes? Why freak out if my macro ratio ends up at 42% fats and not 45%? “Close enough” keeps me sane, as long as it truly is close enough. It’s a balance, a tightrope walk, to find that line between being effective and not driving yourself nuts.
So let’s get down to the part you care about. Macronutrients are basically what food is made of. They consist of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. I could get into how there’s 4 calories per gram of protein, 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate, and 9 calories per gram of fat, but truthfully, that’s too technical for me. To me, ice cream and vodka are macros too (actually, alcohol sugars are technically a macro, but that’s another post entirely) and I budget them into my caloric bills.
If I were to apply the trendy terms to how I feed my body, I would be a primal intermittent fasting clean eater following 85/15 IIFYM HFLCish. What. In layman’s terms, I’m too lazy to get up to make breakfast, so I just have liquids until about 7pm (coffee, water, BCAAs for training, protein shake). I eat what I like, which is mostly meat, dairy, fresh produce, and nuts. Yup. I actually like foods as close to their natural state as possible. I focus on getting protein up early, followed by fats. Around midnight, I’ll have a few hundred calories left, so I’ll indulge in whatever I want, in the healthiest way I can. Usually. Sometimes it’s nachos (local organic grass-fed cheese, homemade salsa, beans, some kind of leafy green, some meat, organic hot sauce, avocado on regular tortilla chips), sometimes it’s a half pint of Ben & Jerry’s, sometimes it’s a PB&J on Ezekiel bread. This is what works for me. It won’t work for everyone, mentally or physically. The details of my diet aren’t particularly important, other than to illustrate that you don’t need to eat a bodybuilding contest prep diet of tilapia, chicken breast, and broccoli day in and day out, nor do you need to 1200 calories a day to get a fit body.
I’ve developed my own little nuances and found some tweaks that suited me better over the years, but Calorie Tracking 101 is pretty simple and all encompassing.
First, determine your caloric needs. There’s a million ways to do this; I prefer to use a combination of several online calculators, and two additional formulas specifically for athletes, then average them out to get a general idea (google “TDEE calculator”, try out a few and see what you get; I use the IIFYM and Scooby’s Workshop calculators primarily. Try them at the lowest activity option in the list as well as what you would estimate your level to be and average those four numbers and set the goal as maintenance where applicable. That number is the calories you burn in your everyday life, walking, eating, digesting, breathing, pooping, exercising, dancing while brushing your teeth, etc. If you eat that number for a few weeks, you’ll see how your body responds. If you gain weight, it’s too much. Lose weight, it’s too little. Adjust that number according to your goals: If you want to get big and strong, you’ll need to eat more than that number (350 calories more per day is the general starting point). If you want to lose fat, you’ll need to eat less (again, about 350 is a pretty good starting place). Note: don’t even think about “eating back calories burned”. You’ll only confuse yourself and end up back where you started. Keep it simple.
Next is macros. Again, a million ways to calculate this. Some people say 0.8g protein per kilogram of body weight, some say 2g per pound of bodyweight, some say you’ll have a heart attack if you go over 35g of fat… it’s pretty personal. Fats are a bit more important for women, especially those seeking low body fat, as they directly control hormonal response. I eat a minimum of 100g of fat per day and my recent bloodwork came back “perfect”. My LDL is lower than my HDL by a few points. My blood pressure is stable and “very acceptable,” according to my doctor. Fats aren’t the enemy. Protein is the necessary building block for muscle. If you’re trying to get big and strong, that’s what you need. If you’re trying to cut body fat while preserving muscle, you’ll want a lot of that. Carbohydrates provide energy. If you’re a runner, or a nurse on your feet all day, don’t be afraid to carb up. It’s a very personal ratio. If you have no idea where to start, try for a 33/33/33% split and play with it. Remember that it does take time to see changes, so be sure to stick with each variation for at least 3 weeks or so.
Once you’ve gotten the numbers you need, then you need to put them to work. I use the free app MyFitnessPal. While not dead accurate, it’s again, close enough. Note: the preset “goals” in the app are absolute BS; take the time to put in your own calorie/macro goals. Some people prefer pen and paper, or a different app. Whatever allows you to look at hard data. For the first few months, it’s easiest to slightly inconvenience yourself and weigh everything you eat. You’ll soon be able to estimate pretty accurately how much of a certain food is present, and about how many calories it is. But in the beginning, be as anal as you possibly can about it without driving yourself bonkers. Be honest about what you’ve eaten, don’t lie to the app and expect results, and accept that you’ll see red “you messed this up” notifications sometimes.
That’s it. Calculate, log, progress. Over time, you’ll learn to eat almost intuitively, realize your problem areas, and find alternative solutions. Experiment. You won’t do irreversible damage. What worked for that IFBB pro on Instagram won’t necessarily work for you, and what works for you won’t necessarily work for me. Be patient, but be honest and critical of your progress. You’ll learn what your body wants and needs, and when you should differentiate between the two.”