2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Making Gains!

I haven’t written anything in a while and wanted to jot down a few thoughts while I wait for my son to get done with hockey practice.

Anyway, I wanted to touch on important ways to track progress besides a scale. A measuring tape is wonderful tool whether you are trying to lose or gain.

Sometime this past summer I measured my bicep/tricep circumference and it was 13 1/4″ well I measured again now some months later and I got 13 5/8″ I’m so excited. Yeah its great that there is a change, but it’s really great because I was feeling like there’d been no change that I looked the same over the past few months. 3/8 wasn’t visually noticeable but the measuring tape does not lie!

So take measurements and record and date them. Then you can have a record of progress that you may not otherwise notice!

Interview LCHF SUOMI

Jani Valtonen of the Finnish LCHF group contacted me for an interview.

Jani: Tell me some basic info about yourself and your family.

I am a 37 year old mother of two teenage boys 14 & 16.  I have been married for 14 years.  Currently reside in Ely, MN. I am employed as an assistant manager at a local gas station / convenience store, I also have two small businesses I run on the side involving horses.  I am a natural hoofcare provider and natural horsemanship trainer.  My boys are very athletic and are in sports year around (baseball, football & hockey, which they are have been playing since they were in kindergarten and preschool), they also are honor roll students.

Jani: Sports career? What series of bodybuilding you are preparing (bodybuilding, fitness etc)? Is it your first competition or how many competitions have you had?

I was prepping for a figure show in October but things have come up & I am now planning on a closer show next spring.  This will be my first show.

Jani: How long have you been keto?

Just over 2 years

Jani: What brought you to try keto diet? What did you think about it at first? Were there any difficulties for you at the start? Was there anything that worried you in the start?

I never was overweight growing up and it wasn’t until after I had my second child that I began to put on weight. As I settled into a life of big dinners and pie; I began working at a gas station with junk food always at my fingertips the weight started adding up. I tried south beach diet for about 3month and lost 20 lbs, but I was not ready for the time commitment in preparing meals and all that goes along with it fell off and regain the 20 I lost plus about 10 more.

Fast forward about a year and I hated my body, I was sitting at 190 and 40% body fat. I was disgusted and depressed! I checked into a program called Take Shape for Life (TSFL) which used Medifast meal replacements for all meals expect the last meal which was a “lean and green” meal that you prepared yourself. It is a severe caloric restricted program avg 800-1000 kcal a day.  It was here that I was first exposed to the idea of ketosis.

I am a researcher, so I started learning about ketosis. The replacement meals were awful and expensive, so I lasted on the program for about 3 months, at which point I started weaning off of the meal replacements and into LCHF.

There was one thing that worried me. When I started checking my blood glucose and ketones, my BG was 120+.  I started taking an over the counter supplement called Glycosolve (works very similar to Metformin) and it worked great to get my BG down into the 70s. Around this same time I started to practice IF and you had to take Glycosolve with a meal, and since it was on the expensive side I just quit taking it. Around this same time frame I learned about Physiological IR and how it was a normal part of Ketogenic adaption.

Lani: What do you think are the main benefits for you with keto? Do you think there’s any handicap you give to other competitors without eating high carbohydrates?

There are many benefits for me with keto. The biggest, I think, is the fact that I no longer get sick and that my allergies have all but disappeared.

My allergies had gotten so bad that I suffered from allergy induced asthma and I was fairly sickly, especially during the winter. I have not been sick in the two years since going low carb and my allergies in the practical sense are gone. I believe this is due to the anti-inflammation aspect of the diet.  Being sick as much as I was, I believe has built up my immune system, but because of high level whole body inflammation, my immune system never was able to function properly; now however that has changed.

As far as training goes I only see benefits there as well. I can train fasted with no low blood sugar swings and the need to refuel steadily. And as far as muscle building, people comment all the time that I have put on substantial muscle is a rather short period of time, and its all been done low carb so I see no draw back there either. Keto makes staying in a deficit easier, reduces hunger and has no negative impact on building muscle. I see no downside.

Lani: Tell me about your training schedule.

My training schedule has been all over the spectrum, never less than 5 days a week, and as many as 7.

When I started lifting weights just about a year ago, I started right in with a 5 day body part split that was rather high volume. I am not going to lie, it was hard! I spent a lot of time crying because it was hard. But I kept on and didn’t give up. I eventually switched to 6 days and week then back to 5. At this point I was working off a program that a friend, Brian Walker had given me, and tweaking it as I needed to. This program was typical Bodybuilder Hypotrophy 3-5 sets 8-15 reps. No cardio.

At about the 6th month mark I started working with a wonderful coach, Menno Henselmans. He put me on a 3 day program; it was not a typical split in any sense. I had the option of 1 rest day a week, but seldom took it. I think that in the 5 months I worked with him I took 3-4 rest days. Otherwise I just keep repeating the 3 day program. With this program the sets were 3-5 and the reps were custom to the muscle and determined at the very beginning of the program, anywhere from 6-20. As I got closer to show date cardio increased up to 50 minutes a week LISS.

Currently I am working with Luis Villasenor and back to a 5 day body part split. This program focuses on the main compound lifts with added accessory work. I am just starting this program, not even two weeks in. I already enjoy the higher volume work and find the group and competition enjoyable. There is just 20 minutes LISS pre workout as a warm up.

Lani: Do you have some kind of school of thought in your training and what kind?

My only school of thought is lift as heavy as you can for the given volume. It should never be easy! You should be constantly pushing yourself and growing and never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.

Jani: Do you have a personal trainer and how often do meet him/her? Do you think it is possible to prepare for a competition without a personal trainer?

I do not have a PT that I meet in person. I now have worked with 3 individuals long distance. This format has both advantages and disadvantages. I may have been able to advance quicker with things like squat and DL had I had someone right there with me to coach me on form. I have made it work, and its more satisfying knowing that this is done so much on my own. The advantages of course are that I am not limited to the PT trainers in my area. That I can work internationally with people, so location becomes less important.

I think if you have enough knowledge about the industry and competition rules and expectations that you could prep without a coach, but for someone like me who is doing it for the first time, I feel a coach is very important.

Jani: Eating, macros, calories, schedule etc. Favorite dishes. Any meals you miss? Any high carb meals you’ve ketofied? Use any carbs to boost energy or performance in the gym?

Currently I am eating about 1550 calories a day:
136g Protein (544 kcal)
34g carbs (136 kcal)
95g fat (855 kcal)
I don’t really worry about meal schedule as much as I worry about getting all my macros in for the day or avg over a week’s time. I tend to cut to 1050 or so kcal on rest days.

Meals I miss… sausage gravy probably the most. Otherwise I don’t miss fillers like bread or pasta at all, and enjoy eating more meat and veggies.

When I first started, I ketofied all kinds of foods and all I found was that it made me want the real things even more or caused me to binge on those foods. I have found that I do best on simple repetitive meals, they make it easier to focus on found as fuel and not pleasure.

My go to meals are things like:
Chicken breast or beef sirloin and broth, green beans or broccoli
Salmon and spinach
Cottage cheese and gelatin

I do follow TKD which is taking in 10-15g fast acting carbs just before train, like glucose or dextrose. I find this helps give a slight edge and help get that one more rep or push extra 5 lbs. It’s not magic but seems to benefit when you are pushing your body to the max during training. Carbs are not needed to build muscle as protein provides any beneficial insulin effect.

Jani: Any lessons learned about low carb living? Do you have any advice for women who have never lifted where to start? Any sense in training while in a deficit? Why is lifting better for you then say cardio? Are there any keto friendly sites for women who are interested about lifting?

I have learned a lot of lessons about low carb living! First it is not some magic plan where you get to gorge on fat and still lose weight, energy balance still matters. This means a diet that looks high protein is not necessarily so once you concider the fat being burned from body fat stores. Not to fuss with measuring ketones or blood glucose, unless you have a medical reason to do so, such as diabetic or epileptic. Just eat follow the diet and let it work!  That protein needs to be based on lean body mass and not on activity and you certainly can eat too little, however it really is hard to eat too much unless you are eating protein shakes and bars instead of whole food sources like steak.

My advice to woman who are interested in lifting weights, “Don’t be afraid to lift heavy and get off the treadmill!” I would start with a good strength building program such as Starting Strength to create a solid base before specializing in any specific direction. Lifting and cardio really serve two different functions. Lifting increases lean body mass and cardio improves cardiovascular health and serves to increase a deficit (during weight loss) without decreasing food intake.

I actually have gained most the muscle I have while I was in a deficit.  When you have a high body fat percent and are a new lifter especially, you have an advantage to be able to more easily gain muscle while losing fat. This process gets exponentially harder as your body fat percent decreases and the time you have been training increases.

The best site I think for weight lifting and keto, no matter if you are a man or woman, would be KETOGAINS. Found both on facebook at KETOGAINS and   ketogains.com.  This group of people is wonderful and fully accepts woman as well as men! It’s a very positive and supportive atmosphere!  Beginner to advanced, all are welcome!

Jani: Do you know anything about Finland? Something we should know about your home state?

The first Finnish immigrants to the USA arrived in 1864, when Finns from northern Finland and Norway settled on the homestead prairie lands in south central Minnesota, my home state. And I have Finnish roots. My Great Grandma Limpy Maria came over from Finland with her family when she was a young girl. I have memories of my Grandma and Great Grandma talking in Finnish whenever they did not want us grandkids to know what they were talking about! If I ever decided to move out of the USA I would be very interested in going to Finland as I really believe in a lot of what is done there as a country.

New Begining

When one thing ends, it opens the door for a new begining. And so it is that as I switch gears away from competing this fall, I am moving into a new program and training.

I am excited as I begin training with Luis Villasenor!! First back day on the books and it was great! With a bit more intensity and volume and less rest time then I was doing previously. You know when you’re light headed and vision is blurry that you’re working hard!

Here’s to a new road to travel and new barriers to break!


Changing Direction

Sometimes life takes twists & turns and either we go with them or get left behind. And so it happened to me.

I’ve always struggled with depression off and on my whole life. My childhood probably was as far from ideal as it could get. But l pursavered and have learned for the most part how to keep just putting one foot in front of the other. Except I still struggle with depression and if I don’t catch the warning signs soon enough I spiral down til I hit bottom. (I refuse to be medicated)

The struggle and stress of working almost a month straight & trying to prep for this contest has triggered self destructive behaviors that signal the begining of what could be a very bad time. I’ve already had minor breakdowns & I needed to take a really hard look at what was going on in my life.

After chatting with my coach, my family and some friends… I’ve decided to cancel the show in a couple weeks time. It’s tearing my mental health apart. I thought I was ready for this, but as it turns out I’m not.

I am not quiting. I’m going to be focusing on building strength over the winter and coming back for a smaller more local show next year.

THANK YOU to all my supporters I love and cherish you all.

I will be even better next year!

Eating For Pleasure

The desire — to eat purely for pleasure, rather than hunger — is called Hedonic hunger, and it can lead some people down a dangerous path to overeating and perhaps, obesity.

Pleasure eating, as opposed to eating for hunger, activates endogenous reward signals in the brain, which when activated, prompt people to eat more of the pleasurable food, even if their bodies don’t need it, a small study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found. This phenomenon is closely linked to body mass index (BMI), and may be a factor in the Western world’s rising obesity rates, the researchers who conducted the study at the University of Naples SUN in Italy say.

How to Curb Your Cravings
If you’re guilty of a little Hedonic eating from time to time, (who isn’t?), follow these steps to crank up your willpower the next time you’re full and faced with an all-too-tempting bite.
Drink water. Often, we think we’re hungry when we’re really just thirsty. The first step to stopping a craving should be downing a full glass of water. Quench your thirst, and it’s likely the cravings will stop.

Chew gum. Pop a piece of sugar-free gum to keep from obsessing over the taste of your favorite indulgence. Chewing will keep you distracted, and you’ll be less likely to overeat with minty-fresh breath.

Find a distraction. When you’re at home or sitting at your desk, it can be tempting to eat out of boredom, not hunger. Every time you’re about to open the fridge because you have nothing else to do, be ready with your go-to distraction. You can call your diet buddy for support, go for a brisk walk around the block, or pick up a book — whatever it takes to divert your focus from food.

—-> Take Home Message
The sooner you stop looking for pleasure from your food… the sooner you will heal your relationship with eating. Eat to fuel your body. . Not for pleasure. Find a new way to reward yourself!


Biological Value

Biological Value:
Biological value measures protein quality by calculating the nitrogen used for tissue formation divided by the nitrogen absorbed from food. This product is multiplied by 100 and expressed as a percentage of nitrogen utilized. The biological value provides a measurement of how efficient the body utilizes protein consumed in the diet. A food with a high value correlates to a high supply of the essential amino acids. Animal sources typically possess a higher biological value than vegetable sources due to the vegetable source’s lack of one or more of the essential amino acids. There are, however, some inherent problems with this rating system. The biological value does not take into consideration several key factors that influence the digestion of protein and interaction with other foods before absorption. The biological value also measures a protein’s maximal potential quality and not its estimate at requirement levels.

Here is a great review of BV and other measures of protein.

*disregard parts of paper saying ketosis and protein is bad I was more interested in the measures of quality protein.

wo substances in raw eggs have been shown to block nutrient availability. Conalbumin is a protein that can bind together with iron and block its availability. Avidin is a second egg protein that can bind together with biotin (a B-vitamin) and make it unavailable.

The cooking of eggs helps denature both of these proteins, and can increase the availability of both iron and biotin from eggs. Of course, another reason for cooking eggs involves health safety. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 of every 20,000 eggs may be contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella, which is actually passed from the infected hen to the egg before the shell is formed.

The nutritional and healing properties of vegetables are in special need of your help when it comes to proper cooking technique! Here are our six cardinal rules for preserving the power of vegetables:

Don’t pre-soak vegetables to make them tender. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water can be lost by pre-soaking.
Cook vegetables in as little water as possible. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water are less likely to be lost.
Leave vegetables in contact with water for as little time as possible. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water are less likely to be lost.
Balance heat and water contact. If you use high heat, keep water contact at a minimum, either by steaming, or baking in a dry oven. If you use low heat, you can allow more water contact. For example, simmering is okay because you bring the water to a boil and then turn down the temperature. But never boil on high heat with direct water contact for more than a few minutes. REASON: nutrients that dissolve in water are less likely to be lost.
Use the Color Power test: when vegetables become more vivid in their colors, with brighter greens and yellows and reds, the power of the vegetables is being enhanced. When the colors begin to pale or become lost, the power is also being lost.
Think tender, not soft. Tender is what your digestive system needs with several types of vegetables, especially those with tough stems and stalks. But soft almost always means less healing power.


Protein and mineral content is relatively stable in red meat, regardless of how you cook it. Vitamins, however, are often affected by cooking methods. Water-soluble vitamins, such as the B vitamins, tend to be the most affected by cooking methods, but fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin E, can sometimes be affected.
Water-soluble vitamins can drop due to high temperatures, long cooking times, cooking in an alkaline solution or cooking in water. Fat-soluble vitamins can leach out of your red meat if you cook the meat in large amounts of fat. Choosing cooking methods that minimize these conditions will result in meat with the most nutrients.

One of the best cooking methods for red meat if you want to minimize vitamin losses is stir frying, according to the European Food Information Council. Stir frying uses only small amounts of oil and liquid and involves short cooking times, although sometimes the temperatures used are a bit high.
Understanding how microwaves work can help clarify the answer to this common question. Microwave ovens cook food with waves of oscillating electromagnetic energy that are similar to radio waves but move back and forth at a much faster rate. These quicker waves are remarkably selective, primarily affecting molecules that are electrically asymmetrical — one end positively charged and the other negatively so. Chemists refer to that as a polarity. Water is a polar molecule, so when a microwave oven cooks or heats up food, it does so mainly by energizing — which is to say, heating up — water molecules, and the water energizes its molecular neighbors.

In addition to being more selective, microwave-oven energy is also more penetrating than heat that emanates from an oven or stovetop. It immediately reaches molecules about an inch or so below the surface. In contrast, regular cooking heat goes through food rather slowly, moving inward from the outside by process of conduction.

Some nutrients do break down when exposed to heat, whether it is from a microwave or a regular oven. Vitamin C is perhaps the clearest example. So, as a general proposition, cooking with a microwave probably does a better job of preserving the nutrient content of foods because the cooking times are shorter.

As far as vegetables go, it’s cooking them in water that robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients leach out into the cooking water. For example, boiled broccoli loses glucosinolate, the sulfur-containing compound that may give the vegetable its cancer-fighting properties as well as the taste that many find distinctive and some, disgusting. The nutrient-rich water from boiled vegetables can be salvaged and incorporated into sauces or soups.

Is steaming vegetables better? In some respects, yes. For example, steamed broccoli holds on to more glucosinolate than boiled or fried broccoli.


Amount of Meats to Reach Leucine Threshold

All weights are of raw meat

Chicken breast (no skin no bone)

6.6oz ~ 3.2g leucine

9oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.485g leucine/oz

Turkey Breast (no skin no bone)

 5.8oz ~ 3.2g leucine

8oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.549g leucine/oz

Beef Sirloin fat trimmed

7oz ~ 3.2g leucine

9.7g ~ 4.4g leucine

.452g leucine/oz

Ground beef 90%

7.3oz ~ 3.2g leucine

10oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.437g leucine/oz

Ground beef 80%

8.5oz ~ 3.2g leucine

11.75 ~ 4.4g leucine

.375g leucine/oz

Ground Lamb

9oz ~ 3.2g leucine

12oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.361g leucine/oz

Lamb Chops lean

7oz ~ 3.2g leucine

10oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.445g leucine/oz

Ground Bison

6.5oz ~ 3.2g leucine

9oz ~ 4.4g Leucine

.486g leucine/oz

whole eggs

Jumbo ~ .685g leucine (5-7 eggs)

Ex Lg ~ .609g leucine (5-8 eggs)

Lg ~ .544g leucine (6-9 eggs)

medium ~ .479g leucine (7-10 eggs)

small ~ .413g leucine (8-11 eggs)

Egg whites12oz ~ 3.2g leucine

16oz ~ 4.4g leucine


Shrimp (wild caught)

7oz ~ 3.2g leucine

9.75oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.451g leucine/oz

Salmon (wild caught)

7oz ~ 3.2g leucine

9.75oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.452g leucine/oz

Cod (wild caught)

8oz ~ 3.2g leucine

11oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.405g leucine/oz


7oz ~ 3.2g leucine

9.75oz ~ 4.4g Leucine

.449g leucine/oz


6.75oz ~ 3.2g leucine

9.25oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.474g leucine/oz

Pork Sirloin

7oz ~ 3.2g leucine

9.5oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.461g leucine/oz


5.25oz ~ 3.2g leucine

7.25oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.618g leucine/oz


7.75oz ~ 3.2g leucine

10.5oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.418g leucine/oz


8oz ~ 3.2g leucine

11oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.407g leucine/oz

Tune Fresh (wild caught)

6oz ~ 3.2g leucine

8oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.537g leucine/oz

Tuna canned in water

5.5g leucine ~ 3.2g leucine

7.5g ~ 4.4g leucine

.580g leucine/oz

Cat Fish (wild caught)

8.5oz ~ 3.2g leucine

11.75oz ~ 4.4g leucine

.373g leucine/oz

All nutrition data gathered from:



Calories In Calories Out?

A calorie is a unit that is used to measure energy. The Calorie you see on a food package is actually a kilocalorie, or 1,000 calories. A Calorie (kcal) is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius.

Nutrition scientists measure the number of calories in food by actually burning the food in a bomb calorimeter, which is a box with two chambers, one inside the other. The researchers weigh a sample of the food, put the sample on a dish, and put the dish into the inner chamber of the calorimeter.
They fill the inner chamber with oxygen and then seal it so the oxygen can’t escape. The outer chamber is filled with a measured amount of cold water, and the oxygen in the first chamber (inside the chamber with the water) is ignited with an electric spark. When the food burns, an observer records the rise in the temperature of the water in the outer chamber. If the temperature of the water goes up 1 degree per kilogram, the food has 1 calorie; 2 degrees, 2 calories; and 235 degrees, 235 calories — or one 8-ounce chocolate malt!

So I don’t know about you but I am pretty sure that our bodies are a bit different then a bomb calorimeter!! State of metabolic health, mix of macros, age activity, etc all have affects on how and where the energy from food goes and how much energy we get from it. Now add on top of that no real accurate way (outside a lab setting) to measure calories burned, and you start to get a picture of why the counting of calories and CICO is so flawed!

Poor Misunderstood Calorie is a great book that delves deeply into why a calorie is not a calorie and is a great read, I highly recommend it! Also the accompanying blog http://www.caloriesproper.com is a great further education source!


Some suggested further reading/viewing:

Energy Balance>CICO

Nutrition Forum – Dr. Donald Layman, PhD

Dr. Layne Norton presents on Refractory Phenomenon

The need for Protein throughout the day

but the counting of calories is severely flawed!! — with Helga Middleditch.

Follow Me to the Stage week 11

Time is flying and almost half way there. 11 weeks down and 13 weeks to go until the NPC show on October 10th.

Training is coming along well! Still making progress in most areas! Really really starting to finally feel confident squatting & actually is begining to become a favorite!

Diet is coming along well & really starting to notice big change in my legs.  Finally! I’ve really had a hard time being patient for my legs and have disliked them for so long even as my upper body has leaned out.

Have had steady down ward trend the last 3 weeks, so really feeling good about progress! Time to start looking specifically toward show planning, registration & getting my NPC card! Need to pick out my routine music and putting that together. Time to really get after posing practice.

This last week has me back in the 140’s pretty excited about that! When I look back at where I was a year and half ago I can’t believe it, I don’t recognize that person I was any longer!

Here’s to continually progressing and realizing dreams!


Where I came from…