Pee Sticks and Blood Tests Keto Style

So I'm a little more than 2 months into my Keto lifestyle and figured I'd talk a little about how to know when you're in ketosis.

Generally speaking, once you go below 50g of carbs per day, you're likely to enter ketosis (after a few days of this). I decided to go in it to win it, so I've been at 25g of carbs per day. A lot of people will start at 20g for a good week or two to get into ketosis and then up a little to somewhere between 20-50g. I'm just so used to 25g that I keep it that way. Thankfully fiber carbs don't count - you can subtract fiber grams from total carbs - hence the term "net carbs". This allows me to binge on some avocados and veggies and not go over on my carbs.

Ok, so when I started Keto, I got these Keto strips - or the pee sticks as I like to call them (not to be confused with pregnancy test, which I also refer to as pee sticks).

So these aren't terribly expensive (I think I paid $12 for this), but they're not great to use for the long term. These are great when you first start out because you can see your body has started shifting to ketones. Over time though, you become more adapted and your body starts utilizing your ketones for fuel instead of just dumping them out in the urine. Also, depending on how dilute your urine is as well as if you just ate a really high fat meal can all affect the color of the strips. Mine still show up with color, but some people after a few months it comes up negative even though they're in ketosis.

My new favorite test, and EXPENSIVE might I add, is the blood meter.

Eww, blood. I know, I know. Every time I do this test I get all freaked out. A needle - ah! So, this is accurate, no matter how long you've been doing Keto. This tells you your level of ketones in the bloodstream. I've read that anything above 0.5 is good and that between 1.5-3.0 means you're in the sweet zone. As you can see, I'm in The Zone - woo. 

The meter itself is cheap, like $30 or so. The strips, however, are not. If you buy online you're going to pay about $10 per strip. PER STRIP! Some people get them from Canada for about $2.50 a strip, I ordered mine on eBay for $3.50 per strip. Hella expensive. This is not something I use everyday. I've used it a few times to figure out where I need to be eating wise. I know how I'm dieting now and with my current macros that I'm in a good place.

Some people don't bother relying on anything and simply let their body tell them. Most people get what is called Keto breath. 

I lucked out and escaped it for a while until I did my egg fast (more on that later). Apparently it's pretty rank - thanks Hubby. I only get it when I haven't eaten in a long time like first thing in the morning or if I forget a meal. Basically your body is burning ketones and the acetone is being released via breath (and sometimes urine - fun fact). Supposedly it goes away within a few weeks or months, but for now I keep a steady supply of gum near by.

I realize this is a lot to do for a diet, but for me it's like a science experiment and therefore sort of fun. As time goes by and I go into maintenance mode, I'll be using the Keto meter more to see how many carbs I can eat without throwing myself out of ketosis. Now I just use it on occasion to make sure I'm on track. It's kind of nice to think my body is surviving off of my ass essentially :)


Sadness and SAM-e

According to the Hubs and some of my nearest and dearest friends, I can be somewhat of a Queen B if you catch my drift. It's not on purpose so much as I just find myself getting upset and nasty over stupid crap. I know a lot of it has stemmed from different reasons of unhappiness, but I'd say my main source is my body.

It's strange how my body makes me sad. Or rather I make myself sad about my body. Regardless, it got to the point where I was just being so nasty all of the time. Depression runs in my family and the few times I've tried taking anti-depressants, I hate the way I feel on them. I've said to Hubs before that I wanted to go on some sort of med, but he said he didn't think I should have to depend on meds to be happy in life. I even said I understood how people could abuse pain meds or other drugs because it just takes away this feeling to be in control and made me care less. I felt happy on my pain pills from my back - things just seemed more blissful, but that was obviously not the solution. I disagreed with his thoughts on no drugs, but we carried on as usual and I finally hit my breaking point a month ago.

We were literally arguing about everything. EVERYTHING. Most of the time I'd pick the fights for no good reason. I love him, I just felt so miserable personally and unfortunately he bore the brunt of it. I did some Internet research (thank you, Dr. Google) and discovered a supplement, SAM-e, that is supposed to be helpful with depression. I like all natural and I needed help. So like any Amazon Prime subscriber would do, I placed and order on subscribe and save (woo hop 20% savings) and anxiously awaited my box to arrive.

It takes about 7-10 to work and I noticed around day 7. I just didn't feel the burning desire to rage about something. I felt calmer. I felt...reasonably happy. I asked Hubs a few days in if he had noticed any difference and he said life had just been calmer, less screamy if you will.

Now normally before I get the beloved Shark week, I am a serious PMSer. Like to the point where the Hubs knows to just leave me be for a good 5 days. Shark week arrived today and this happened...

He had no clue the shark was coming. That's a first. I love these little pills. They really do make me feel more level and balanced and I like that I don't have any weird side effects from them. I'm glad I found something that helps me. I know over time I may need to up my dosage of these, but I'm ok with that. It's nice to just feel like me, instead of the extra bitchy version of me.


5 Best Low Carb Keto Pumpkin Recipes

September is here which means I am 100% ready for pumpkin. I have a serious obsession with it and tend to stock up on pumpkin puree so I can have it year round. Now that I'm doing a keto/low carb diet, I've got to change up how I eat my pumpkin. I can't just have sugar laden and flour filled item. Thankfully, other bloggers out there have started taking to their kitchens to create some heavenly, low carb, pumpkin recipes. Here are my 5 favorites:

Pumpkin Chipotle Soup from I Breath, I'm Hungry. I get almost all of my dinner recipes from her and I cannot wait for it to get cool enough in Florida to eat soup because this is on my list to make.

Frozen Pumpkin Pie Chai-Cchino....you had me at pumpkin and chai. 

No pumpkin list would be complete without pumpkin pie. This pumpkin pie from Gourmet Girl Cooks has a cinnamon nut crust.

I love pumpkin bread for breakfast and this Pumpkin and Orange Cheese bread from KetoDiet sounds filling and delicious.

What's your favorite pumpkin must-have?


Satisfy Your Soda Cravings the Natural Way with Zevia

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetsSM blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product

I love drinking soda, but don't do it often because of all of the chemicals and colorings in them. To me, there's just nothing quite as refreshing as a cold soda on a hot day and I simply can't imagine eating a burger without some soda to go with it. Now I feel comfortable drinking soda again because as a Mom's Meet Ambassador I got to sample some of the amazing sodas from Zevia.

  • Zevia Zero Calorie Soda is sweetened naturally with a unique blend of high purity Stevia (grown right here in the US!) and Monk Fruit.
  • Zevia comes in 15 different flavors, including Ginger Root Beer, Strawberry, Cherry Cola, and many more.
  • This soda contains no calories, sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • No worries! It’s totally Kosher, Vegan, and Gluten-Free!
  • The retail price for a 6-pack of Zevia ranges from $3.99 to $5.99. 

I've never been a big drinker of Mountain Dew because it was always so weird to me with that bright color, but I like the taste. I was so excited to have a can of Mountain Zevia to get me through my afternoon slump. Even though it naturally sweetened, it's most definitely sweet and certainly hits the spot. There's a decent amount of caffeine in it too so it got me through my afternoon.

My husband loved the Dr. Zevia. He said he liked it better than the "real" thing. We both agreed all of the sodas have a nice sweetness to them without being too sweet. Thankfully we didn't experience any strange aftertaste that can happen sometimes with sweeteners other than sugar. 

The best part is it's so easy finding Zevia in the stores. I was worried I would have to drive the almost 30 minutes to Whole Foods to pick some up, but even my local Publix carries it. This is the best soda alternative I've ever had. I feel comfortable drinking it myself and now I don't mind as much if my son wants to sneak a sip here and there because I know it's all natural.

Connect: You can connect with Zevia on their website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and/or @Zevia on Twitter.

Giveaway: Have you tried Zevia before? Would you like to? I have free product coupons to giveaway to 4 readers!

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Weigh in Wednesday & Ta-keto Shells

Back for my monthly weigh-in. I'm still going strong on Keto and feeling great. I actually had blood work done this morning, so I'll be curious to see how it comes back relative to last year. I have had a few slips up this past month - none with food though, only the occasional weekend boozing.

It's honestly amazing how I just don't crave food any more. Not even like treats or bread or anything, but I just don't have a strong craving for food period. I eat when I'm hungry, stop when I'm full, and I don't feel deprived of anything. Sure sometimes I'll see a tasty treat and want it, but I don't become obsessed with it like I used to. It's a big step for me because I've always been a food-fixator and could not go about my day if I didn't get whatever food it was I was fixated on.

So here's my results:

SW: 203
8/13/14: 187.2
Monday: 182.4

Down 4.8 lbs in a month. Not as much as I had hoped, but not too shabby either. I've officially lost 20.6 lbs in only 2 months.

My breakfast and lunch are usually the same: eggs or cream cheese pancakes for breakfast and usually lunchmeat and cheese with avocado for lunch. Thankfully I don't mind eating the same thing, it just makes life easier for me. Dinner is where I get very creative and have fun with food. I wanted to share a cool trick I discovered when making tacos one night.

Making these taco shells, or ta-ketos as Hubby dubbed them, is so so easy. I was in the mood for tacos and was bummed I couldn't have something crunchy to eat them in. I have made cheese chips before (exact same concept, just smaller pieces of cheese), so I thought why not try for taco shells. Here's how to make it:

1. Place a slice of cheese (or sprinkle some shredded cheese in a 4" circle) on a piece of PARCHMENT paper (not wax paper - totally different thing).

2. Microwave for anywhere from 60-90 seconds. My sweet spot is 1 minute, 10 seconds. When you microwave the cheese will bubble and then it will just sort of stop (not necessarily when the microwave stops). When it stops bubbling, that's your cue to remove it.

3. Take it out and hold up the ends of the parchment paper to form your ta-keto shell. It takes all of 20 seconds for this to harden and then you're done. Remove it from the parchment paper, set it on a plate, and you're ready to go.

This is so easy and makes low carb tacos INFINITELY better! Enjoy :)


Make Your Own Natural Cola Drink with SweetLeaf Stevia Cola Sweet Drops

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetsSM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product. 

I absolutely love the taste of soda, but hardly ever drink it. I just hate ingesting all of those colorings and chemicals that come along with the delicious taste. Now, I've heard of all natural sweeteners like Stevia, but I had never heard of SweetLeaf before. As a blogger for Mom's Meet, I was lucky enough to be sent a sample of the Sweet Drops from SweetLeaf and got to try their Cola flavor.

SweetLeaf® products harness the power of the natural stevia leaf to bring families everywhere a better-for-you sugar alternative containing zero calories and zero carbohydrates. You won’t find any artificial ingredients in SweetLeaf products. SweetLeaf has developed more consumer stevia sweetener products than any other single company, from a tabletop sweetener and flavored drops to tablets and a convenient shaker bottle, to SweetLeaf’s baking product, SugarLeafTM, which has 2/3 fewer calories than sugar. SweetLeaf is the only stevia brand consistently winning international awards for taste and innovation. 

  • SweetLeaf® Liquid Stevia Sweet DropsTM Cola is a healthy alternative to traditional diet sodas!
  • How does it work? Simply add two drops of Cola Sweet Drops to your glass for every ounce of sparkling water (or to taste), and you get delicious cola taste without the bitterness.
  • Cola Sweet Drops are portable, convenient, and a great value at just 5¢ per serving.
  • SweetLeaf Sweet Drops contain no carbohydrates, calories, sugar alcohols, methanol, aspartame or sucralose. They are all natural and gluten-free.
  • Like all SweetLeaf products, Cola Sweet Drops is made with USDA certified organic stevia.
  • The retail price for SweetLeaf Szxweet Drops Cola is $4.39 for 37 servings, or $14.99 for 100 servings. Pricing may vary based on retailer. 

Using this was so simple. I just added 2 drops per ounce of soda water and mixed it up. It was definitely nice to have the cola taste in a chemical free drink. 

We decided to do a taste test next to regular cola. While, it's definitely not the same, it's actually very good, and to me, it's worth it to not have all of the colorings and weird artificial ingredients. It was sweet, but not overly so and it didn't have any strange aftertaste. There's nothing quite like a glass of cola to go with a burger and this certainly hits the spot. In addition to the cola flavor, Sweet Drops comes in 21 great flavors like watermelon, coconut, and pumpkin spice and I can't wait to try out the other flavors.

Be sure to check out their site and use the code ColaMD at checkout to get 30% off your online purchase plus you'll get free shipping.

Connect: You can connect with SweetLeaf on their website, Facebook, Pinterest, and/or @SweetLeafStevia on Twitter!


Natural Baby Care with Well Beginnings from Walgreens

 I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetsSM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinon on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product. 
I have always been very picky about the products I use on my son - and not just things like bath soap, but diapers, wipes, and even over-the-counter medicines. I like knowing that everything that goes onto or into my son is as natural as possible. As a Moms Meet blogger, loved getting to try the new Well Beginnings line from Walgreens because I can get everything I need to take care of my son in an all natural form.
The entire Well BeginningsTM product line is exclusive to Walgreens, your friendly neighborhood drugstore known for its health and wellness expertise.
  • Well BeginningsTM Size 4 Jumbo Diapers (31 count) offer a soft stretchable waist and side panels that wrap your baby in softness, offering leakage protection for day and night. The amazingly soft inner liner features natural botanicals, vitamin E, and aloe to soothe your baby’s bottom.
  • These quality baby diapers are available in Newborn to Size 6 and are 100% satisfaction guaranteed.
  • Well BeginningsTM Newborn, Size 1 and Size 2 diapers have a wetness indicator feature and turn blue when wet.
  • Well BeginningsTM is all made in the U.S.A. and is made up of high- quality products at a great value.
  • The retail price for Well BeginningsTM Size 4 Jumbo Diapers (31 count) is $8.99. 

The Well Beginnings diapers are awesome. I love that even though they're a store brand, they still have a cute design on them. They're very soft and with no weird smells like some disposable diapers have. We haven't had any problems with leaking or blowouts with these diapers and the absorb a lot. The fit on them is also great. My son is a pretty big kid, probably close to 38 lbs, but he fits comfortably in the size 5's. I also really like the sensitive wipes. They're nice and thick and don't rip easily. They feel soft on my son's bottom and wipe up a good amount. They're soft enough that I feel comfortable using them to wipe his face and hands too.
  • These wipes are made with Tri-Form, a unique 3-layer fabric, specially designed with 2 quilted cottony soft outer layers for superior and gentle cleansing for your baby’s delicate skin.
  • The inner layer is strong and thick to prevent tearing or stretching, keeping your hands clean.
  • The wipes are hypoallergenic, alcohol-free, dermatologist-approved, and made in the U.S.A.
  • The retail price for Well BeginningsTM Sensitive Wipes (72 count) is $2.39. 

The Baby Wash is also really great. I like that it has a light scent and suds up really well. We've even used it in place of bubble bath a few times. It makes his skin soft and clean without stripping it of moisture. 
  • Our baby wash, made right here in the U.S.A., is designed for use on your baby’s entire body. The rich lather effectively cleanses your baby’s hair and skin without the fear of tears.
  • Unlike baby soaps, this baby wash cleans without drying because it’s 100% soap-free, dye-free and pH-balanced. In fact, it is milder than baby soap.
  • The tear-free formula is clinically tested hypoallergenic and is dermatologist- and allergy-tested as well as paraben- and phthalate-free.
  • The retail price for Well BeginningsTM Baby Wash is $2.99. 

They even make an Oral Electrolyte solution that is dye-free. I hate using some other brands because they have dyes in them and that's just not something I feel comfortable giving my son. With school just starting I know we'll be battling some sickness and I'm glad all I need to do is run to Walgreens to get this to help him feel better.

With so many great all natural products, Well Beginnings has you covered. Once my son starts potty training I know we'll be using their training pants as well. From body wash to diapers, look no further than your local Walgreens to cover all of your natural baby care needs.

Connect: You can connect with Walgreens and their Well Beginnings line on their website, Facebook, and/or @Walgreens on Twitter.