I need to have 30 venipunctures in order to pass my phlebotomy class and we are running out of classmates to stick. We sometimes solicit students from campus, but being the summer, there just aren’t that many wandering around. Many people started bringing in friends and family. I texted my immediate family and they weren’t so receptive to the idea of having their blood drawn if it wasn’t for testing purposes (you know, like if a doctor ordered it). Finally, I took to facebook to see if any other family members or friends would be willing. My cousin and his girlfriend volunteered and I got two VPs from each arm. After hearing that my cousin was going, my mom and sister also showed up the same night. I also got a random guy on campus (who fainted after I completed his VPs because he didn’t eat all day and it was 7pm; what an experience) and the coach of the basketball team. A good night for me.

Anyway, my family wanted to have their blood spun. My sister’s looked the best, which was no surprise since she’s a vegetarian. My mom’s was the worst. I’m not sure if it looked better or worse than my first one. My cousin and his girlfriend’s were pretty clear, but still had some particles floating around, but it looked very close to my sister’s, so I’d say they were in pretty good shape.

I didn’t ask them to come back next week (I still need 4 more VPs), but they volunteered again because I told them that I saw significant improvement after a week of strict dieting; also, after I showed them what really bad blood, really good blood, and what theirs looked like, they said they wanted to change their diet for the week and come back to see if there were any differences. See, showing people the garbage in their blood can make a big difference!

My mom has become slightly more interested in what not to eat, but I don’t know if she’s going to make any radical changes to her diet any time soon.

I told this story to my other sister, who has been saying no every time, and now she is reconsidering coming to my class because she wants to know how hers looks. She may bring her husband. He is really fit (he’s a tennis instructor), but they both don’t eat very healthily. She is also a healthy weight, but you don’t have to be fat to have heart disease or diabetes. They feed their daughter healthy foods, but I think, as new parents, they just want to set a good example for her, too, and also take care of themselves to make sure they’re around for her and any subsequent kids.

I’d like to have my brother and dad come in before the class ends, but they are more stubborn, I think. My dad just had some blood work done and his values aren’t that good, but maybe seeing it will do more good than just reading the figures.

One Week Update

I’m not planning on weekly updates being a thing (I usually just write when something comes to mind), but I wanted to rave about my first week.

It’s been eight days since I switched back to keto. I saw my blood sample on the night of August 8th, 2016, was back on keto the following morning, and my keto strips showed I was in ketosis that night. I’ve been fairly strict about what I eat. I may have had a few bites of breaded chicken with a slightly sweet sauce and one day I ate three grapes, but I was always under my carb macros, so these didn’t really do anything. I was using a scale to weigh my food for a day, but I just haven’t been happy with any of the apps available, so I felt like tracking it wouldn’t work too well right now. I really liked MyFitnessPal before they started making you pay to have certain features. SparkPeople might be my next choice. I paid for Cronometer (though I pretty much got it for free from credits in the Google Play store), but I uninstalled it not too long after. Anyway, since I didn’t have anywhere to track my progress, I stopped using the scale. I’ve been doing pretty good without it. Originally, I thought I’d use it for now because I’m trying to avoid having a heart attack and wanted to do everything right. Additionally, the last couple times I tried to get back on keto, I wasn’t losing weight and figured I was eating too many calories. I’ve lost 5 lbs in the last week, though, so I think I’m doing okay.

Earlier this week, I volunteered to have a classmate draw my blood. I wanted it spun in the centrifuge again because I wanted to see if there were any noticeable changes yet. Unfortunately, the classmate wasn’t able to draw any blood from that vein, so it didn’t happen. Today, though, someone successfully drew my blood and enough of it to have it spun.

My professor told me that it would take 5 to 6 weeks to see any changes, but I feel like that’s probably the time frame for people who maybe aren’t cutting out carbohydrates (or maybe meat; a classmate’s boyfriend also improved by a lot by just not eating red meat) by a significant amount, so the change is slower. As you can tell, though, I quit carbs cold turkey and — I really need to take photos of my tubes of blood because I think it’s pretty damn impressive — there was a huge difference in just one week. I’m really glad that spinning blood is something we can do in class because seeing the junk that’s flowing through veins was just the motivation I needed. I mentioned this before, but I really think healthcare providers should show their patients their blood as motivation! I’m guessing they wouldn’t because of the cost of transporting the specimens back to them from the lab and likely other factors that I’m not aware of, but I feel like it’d be far more effective than just reading numbers off to a patient.

I already mentioned this in my previous post, but the plasma in the first tube from last week was very cloudy; you couldn’t see through it at all. It looked like chicken noodle soup! It should be yellowish and clear, like cooking oil. Today’s was not pristine, there were still some lipids floating around, but it was much clearer and I could see through it this time.

I’ll post pictures later. It’s late right now and I would like to do it during the day, in natural lighting, so maybe sometime tomorrow. It’s pretty amazing and really motivating to see such drastic changes in less time than I was told. Even my professor was impressed.

I went to have a physical done today for class and I asked to have a blood panel done. I kind of wish I had the numbers for last week when it was really bad, but I’m happy to get the values of what I saw today. What I am kind of not looking forward to, though, is my follow-up visit. They took a urine sample and I’m expecting the doctor to tell me to discontinue keto because of the ketones in my urine. I have read some success stories, though, of people whose physicians ended up being open-minded or were aware of the diet/lifestyle and that they were okay with it because everything looked fine; they were healthy. Also, they may mention that my sample was really dark. I have been drinking lots of water and it hasn’t been dark, but I stopped eating and drinking the night before my appointment in case it was something they would’ve wanted me to do before drawing my blood (though in my phlebotomy class, we learned that this isn’t really necessary anymore). So the next morning, my urine was really concentrated. I don’t know if they’ll try to use that for a “keto is bad” thing when I go for the follow-up.

Anyway, not sure if that’s too much information for some people (and I say this with love, but get over it! We all pee), but that’s what’s been going on today. Despite the slight concern about discussing the results of my blood work, overall, I’m pretty stoked about everything.

Definitely back.

Okay! I’m back and this time, I’m not stopping. I’ve been taking a phlebotomy class for the last two weeks and I had my blood drawn by a classmate during clinicals earlier this week. My professor, an RN, put it in the centrifuge and what came out was not pretty. What this process does is it separates the components of blood. At the bottom are your erythrocytes (red blood cells), then a small layer in the middle consisting of the buffy coat, and at the top is your plasma. A healthy person will have clear, yellowish plasma that looks like oil. Mine wasn’t; it was cloudy (may update this post with a picture later… yes, I kept it so I could remind myself and show my family that they need to change their diet). My professor mentioned something about cholesterol (I couldn’t hear what she said too clearly, but if she said it was high, I’m not surprised because I was borderline high the last time I had a blood test done) and she said that my triglycerides were high. We don’t run blood tests in our class, we only spin it, so I don’t have any numbers to provide. Based on just on what she could see, she said that if I continued to eat the same way, I’m on track for an MI (myocardial infarction aka a heart attack). That night, I had my last meal with bread for a while and the next day, I changed my foods and went into ketosis.

While I’ve been wanting to get back into keto for my health, the main thing I focused on was weight loss. Well, after having seen what a healthy person’s blood looks like and then having mine pop out of the centrifuge looking milky, I knew I couldn’t continue eating what I’ve been eating. I’ve been telling my parents for a while that they buy a lot of junk food. When we were kids, we’d buy snacks sometimes, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it is now. Now I’m really concerned for the rest of my family as I’m eating the same foods they are. When I showed my dad my blood, he blamed it on meat, saying that he doesn’t eat the same meat as I do — I sometimes have red meat, but he’s cut it out of his diet almost completely. I remember reading on /r/keto that people have shared their blood panel before starting keto and their blood panels after and their cholesterol and triglycerides returned to normal ranges. Cutting carbs will significantly lower triglycerides. My family still thinks that fat is bad for you, that it’ll make you fat, so the foundation of their diet is carbohydrates.

It’s very annoying because I’ve talked to my dad about me being on keto a couple years ago and how the whole “fat is bad” thing was started decades ago without any scientific basis, but he grew up on that and it’s what much of the medical community is taught, so he was very skeptical. Maybe within a week or so of that conversation, someone shared the Time magazine article “Ending the War on Fat” (here is a PDF of the article if you can’t or don’t want to visit their site) on /r/keto (that’s a link to the actual reddit post I saw it on). Not long after that, my dad brought home a copy of the magazine to show me the article and acted like what I told him earlier was the opposite of what it was saying. I was the one who was saying fat isn’t bad. If anything, I should’ve been the one who smugly presented him with the article. Anyway, I know that’s not the only thing written about how Americans view fat, but that was something that will always stay in my mind because it was published shortly after having the conversation with my dad and his reaction will forever annoy me.

Despite all that and other articles that he’s come across and talked to me about saying the same thing and that he lost some weight after decreasing his carb intake (I think he stopped several months ago, though), he still thinks a carb-based diet is the way to go.  He’s had a big belly (not obese, I guess) for a lot of his adult life. I don’t know what he tells himself to explain where it comes from. I don’t know how often he gets blood tests done, but the last time I heard about one, he and my brother have high cholesterol. He was on a statin for a while, but I heard you’re not supposed to be on those for long and that you should really change your diet. Not sure if he’s still on it.

We are butting heads on the topic.

So yeah, now I’m back to keto because it is absolutely imperative that I change my ways now. I was talking to my sister and showed her my blood the other day (she’s an RN) and we were saying that doctors should show patients their spun blood because we think it would have a greater effect than giving them figures from the results. I mean, it’s still shocking when you hear that you should be this low, but you’re super high. Seeing what it should be, though, and seeing what you actually have is really motivating. For the last two days, I haven’t even felt any temptation or anything. Before, I would still eat sweets or drink juices and such, knowing that they weren’t good for me. Now, though, all I see are things that will kill me if I keep consuming them.


There are some foods that I think I can eat forever if I had to, but I think I can say that eggs and bacon and salad are not them. I get bored of those within a few weeks and need to change things a bit.

I’ve been wanting to make breakfast burritos for a a while and for a couple of reasons. First, when I lived out west, I used to get steak and egg breakfast burritos from Del Taco. I’d heard of breakfast burritos before then and they didn’t sound much different than breakfast sandwiches I’ve had or made, but I never had one. When my boyfriend introduced me to them, they were my new go-to in the morning. Plus steak in the mornings?! Yes, please! Sure, there are places here that sell their dinky, soggy breakfast burritos (McDonald’s, Burger King, etc), but it just doesn’t compare. I also had a poor experience with my first BK burrito. Within minutes of I swallowing a bite, my stomach started hurting. I should’ve not eaten it just because it wasn’t appetizing at all, but I continued anyway because I didn’t think I’d feel the effects of food poisoning so quick and I didn’t want to waste food, so I waved it off as something else. I was incapacitated for the next day because of it. Anyway, I miss having good breakfast burritos.

Second, I would like to try my hand at meal prep. I know I’ve stopped keto a few times out of laziness — as in I didn’t feel like cooking or making anything. I keep seeing things where people prepare their meals ahead of time (usually a week, but I have seen a few posts for 30 day meal preps) and defrost it as they go. I think I could really benefit from this and I often see burritos made and frozen. I actually tried it once a few years ago, but they were so tiny. The low carb tortillas I bought were actually ones for small tacos or fajitas and they made for the tiniest, unsatisfying burritos. They tasted good (eggs and bacon bits and ends), but I ended up eating two every morning and finished them in less than a week.

Lastly, like I already mentioned, I need something different!

My only issue is that I haven’t found a good tortilla. Sometimes they are too thin, the carb count too high, or they’re too small. I liked Mission tortillas, but last time I checked, the 6g carb tortilla is the smaller ones. The burrito tortillas are 10g! If I have one of those for breakfast, that’s half of my carb limit for the day in one shot. I’d have to be really strict about everything else.

My last option is to make my own. There are a few recipes I’d like to try:


It’s just a matter of doing it, but I’m kind of lazy, ugh.

Breyers CarbSmart

I was at Walmart a couple nights ago and found out that Breyers has a low carb frozen dairy dessert that comes in two flavors: chocolate and vanilla. I love chocolate and I love ice cream. Though it’s not technically ice cream, I was willing to try it just to satisfy my sweet tooth (I don’t crave sweets often, but sometimes the mood strikes).

Just to explain real quick about the frozen dairy dessert and ice cream thing, Breyers can’t legally call some of their flavors ice cream anymore because they changed their recipes. (For convenience, I have this post tagged under “ice cream” because I don’t expect to have many posts after this about almost-ice creams). If you read some of the containers, they’ll say “frozen dairy dessert” instead. Their flavors may be similar to the recipes of the past, but their textures are different. I remember my favorite — vanilla fudge twirl — being hard to scoop out of its container (lots of ice cream is, but the reward is well worth the work). Now, it’s airy and creamy and seems like it melts faster. To me, it’s almost kind of like being in a permanent state of halfway melted.

Anyway, that’s a rant for another day. I picked up a container to try it out. It was only 4 net carbs — that excludes the sugar alcohols. I don’t think people count them, but they can still kick people out of ketosis.

It wasn’t terrible. I mean it’s close enough to ice cream and tasted good enough that I’ll eat it, but since I don’t really want to support Breyers because of the changes in their recipes. After finding this out years ago, I started having Ben and Jerry’s or Häagen-Dazs instead — which I’m obviously no longer having. I saw a couple brands on /r/keto that I might want to try Halo Top and Active D’Lites (looks like the latter is only available out west). It’s kind of out of the way to buy it, but I’m willing to make the trip if it’s worth it.

I’d like to try to make my own. That way I can control what goes in it.

Well, anyway, the CarbSmart dessert wasn’t bad. Like I said, it’s close enough to ice cream. So far, it doesn’t seem to have kicked me out of ketosis, though my strip has gotten a little lighter. It’s all about staying within your macros, I guess.

Back on Track

Ugh, I’ve been going on and off keto for a while, which I feel like may not be healthy, but I finally put my foot down and I’ve been in ketosis for two weeks straight. I’ve been making sure to give whoever is doing the shopping a list or go shopping with them when I needed something. I picked up more ingredients to make different meals because one reason why I haven’t been consistent with keto was I was getting really bored of the same food over and over (lots of eggs and bacon and salads). I got my family to start making tacos a couple weeks ago and I just have everything without the tortilla. It’s been all right, but we’ve been using ground turkey and it doesn’t feel right to me. It tastes okay, though. I also bought some shirataki noodles, Better Than Bouillon, and some veggies to try making some low carb ramen alternatives. I also want to attempt to make these bread alternatives found on Maria Mind Body and Health: bread, wraps, and tortillas. I also want to give these tortillas a try (also has instructions on how to make them into hard taco shells and nachos). I’ve also added sugar free jello and sugar free pudding to the menu for the days when I want a little sweetness. For the pudding, I’ve been mixing in heavy cream instead of milk. I’ve been doing chocolate pudding lately and it comes out thicker and lighter than how it should. I could probably cut back on the amount of cream (I’ve been using the same amount they provide for milk), but I actually like it. It’s kind of like mousse and it being so rich and thick makes it so I don’t eat it all in one sitting. I slowly eat just a couple of spoonfuls.

Another reason why it’s been hard to stay on keto is my family buys so much carby foods. Before doing my research and starting on keto, I didn’t really think too much about what we were eating, but I know back then, my family wasn’t buying so much junk food. Also, I walked nearly everywhere because I didn’t have a car, so I was getting exercise regularly. Now that that’s all changed, though, I’m so much more aware of what I eat and I read the labels for everything.

I have to say that within this past year and four months I’ve been back with them, I think I’ve gotten my family (well, mostly my dad and sisters; maybe my mom a little bit) to be more wary about how much sugar is in their foods and how much carbs are in all the breads they buy. My dad still keeps trying to suggest things for me to eat, like wraps, if everyone else is in the mood for pizza or pasta, not understanding that I don’t want anything that has any kind of bread. I just refuse and just say it has too many carbs. He keeps trying to argue that it’s not, but it’s not his decision how many carbs I want to eat.

Anyway, I am down 10lbs and feeling pretty good. I lost ~20lbs the first time I went on keto and I lost 10lbs within the first week or so, so I’m going a little slower this time around, but that’s still good. I know it’s just water weight and all, but it’s still a great feeling seeing the scale readings get lower as time goes on. I’m looking forward to it continuing to drop.

I’m really feeling committed to staying on keto this time. I wish I’d stuck with it before – I could’ve been in a bikini this summer (and the last!) – but it’s all right. I’ll be ready for next year.

Natto and Shirataki products.

Although I haven’t been following my diet, I still keep an eye out for food and health related stuff. One thing I keep seeing come up — mostly when I read about Japanese food, not when I’m reading about low carb foods — is natto. It’s Japanese fermented soybeans. I always tucked it away in the back of my mind as something to read more about and to try later, but never got around to doing. I ended up doing a little bit of research last night because I came across an article about aging and beauty. The point they were trying to make was, since natto is loaded with vitamin K2, it aids in preventing wrinkles and I believe it was used to explain why Asians age so well. I thought it was mostly genetic, which I still think plays a part (becaus a lot of people still think I look much younger than I am), but it looks like Asians have a lot more vitamin K2 in their diet than we do out west. According to wikipedia, there are other cultures have that dishes that are very similar to natto.

Many countries produce similar traditional soybean foods fermented with Bacillus subtilis, such as shuǐdòuchǐ (水豆豉) of China, cheonggukjang (청국장) of Korea, thuanao (ถั่วเน่า) of Thailand, kinema of Nepal and the Himalayan regions of West Bengal and Sikkim, hawaijaar of Manipur, akhuni of Nagaland, piak of Arunachal Pradesh, India.

I’ve read that it’s an acquired taste and I’ve seen some people compare it to other foods that smell bad, but it tastes good, like durian. Some people say it has a bad taste, though, so I guess it depends on your palate. When you buy it, it may have a couple of different packets of sauce to mix with it to help with the smell and taste. I’ve read that some people mix it into other dishes to mask them. I may try that if I find I don’t really like it right out of the package because I’d still like to reap the benefits of natto. According to the wiki article linked earlier:

A 2009 internet survey in Japan indicated 70.2% of respondents like nattō and 29.8% do not, but out of 29.8% who dislike nattō, about half of them eat nattō for its health benefits.

One recipe I’ve seen on the internet is one that I originally saw in a Hard Gay video (may be NSFW) where Hard Gay, a Japanese comedian, tries to help a child overcome his dislike of natto. The recipe consists of putting the natto in coffee jelly and topping it with whipped cream. You could put it on toast, but seeing as I’m on keto, I probably won’t and the whipped cream will have to be the sugar-free kind (I used to use this on sugar-free jello as a snack, mmm).

It’s supposed to have other health benefits other than helping with wrinkles, but that was the main point of that article. A simple google search will show what other benefits it offers, but a couple are it helps to lower cholesterol (something that I’m interested in) and reduces blood clotting, helping to avoid heart attacks or strokes.

Out west, we can get our K2 from foods like beef, chicken, butter, milk, cheese, and eggs, but it has to come from grassfed animals and the quality of soil that the grass is growing in is also a factor (source). I’m guessing it’s because of the bacteria that’s used when fermenting the soybeans. “Historically, nattō was made by storing the steamed soybeans in rice straw, which naturally contains B. subtilis natto. The soybeans were packed in straw and left to ferment” (wikipedia). Anyway, we don’t seem to get enough of it out here because what percent of the population buys grassfed? I would guess not the majority. Definitely not my family. We aren’t poor, but we try to save by buying what’s cheap, so eating organic or grassfed (if I recall correctly, these don’t mean the same thing) is not in our shopping habits. It’s whatever is on sale at the supermarket. One day, though, I’m going to change that.

Anyway, natto is one of the foods that I want to try to work into my diet. Another one is maybe shirataki rice and noodles. It really makes me sad that I can’t have the real things while on keto and like I’ve said before, I’m going to try to work a minimal amount into my diet again once I hit my goal weight, but in the meantime, I want a substitute (I’ll probably alternate with “riced” cauliflower). I’ve thought of just eating more vegetables or tofu with the food I prepare, but sometimes I just want to have rice with it. We make our dishes saucier than you’d normally get them because we like to ladle the sauce over rice and noodles.

While I’ve read some negative stuff about shirataki products, like the smell and taste, I’ve also read good ones and how to do something about these problems (rinsing thoroughly and drying by roasting in a pan on low-medium heat). It makes me think that the negative reviews are either old, written before people figured out how to solve these problems, or they’re written by people who just haven’t tried hard enough or done enough research on the preparation of shirataki products. There are other things I’ve read, like shirataki can’t replace pasta in Italian dishes, but are good in Asian ones, like pho. Again, though, I’ve read of people making it work in Italian dishes or in macaroni and cheese, so I’m thinking the dishes that came out horribly are probably failed attempts by the same people mentioned earlier. I came across a comment where someone seems to have the same view. I forget which product page I saw it on, but the person said something along the lines of people are treating shirataki noodles like regular pasta and expecting the same results as regular pasta, but they don’t realize it’s not the same and that there’s a different way to prepare it.

So, in short, I’m not letting the bad reviews faze me. I usually do a good amount of research before I buy something and I think I have a good idea of how to make it work. I think it’s worth trying out.

Lately, I’ve been limited to eggs, bacon, salads, and some frozen seasoned chicken. Occasionally, I’ll have fish. I definitely need to add more to this list because it’s getting boring (I had more variety when I was doing the shopping back when I was living with my boyfriend, but I’m not doing the shopping now), so I’m also always on the lookout to add new stuff to my diet.