Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Sweet Peace #41: Looking for answers


Looking for answers

Sunday aha. I have been doing this challenge in the same manner I used to do diets … seeing how much I could get away with. The keto “aids” I touted last report have turned into a lurking snack attack. I’ve managed to barely eke under the wire on carbs so I’m still in the challenge; however “barely” is the operative word. Somehow, I forgot this was about health and turned it into a cat-and-mouse challenge of seeing how I could game the system.

Enough already.

In an attempt to get away from keto junk food, I bought a colorful 6-pack of Costco bell peppers. Turns out, yellow and orange peppers have twice as many carbs as green bell peppers: 8 versus 4. Red ones split the difference at 6. Guess which are my favorites?

So, as far as carbs go, 1 orange bell pepper is the same as 16 keto bombs. However, there is a 920 calorie difference! Keto isn’t about counting calories but that doesn’t mean that calories don’t count! And, while I would never eat 16 bombs (she says, wondering if …); that would be 88 grams of fat versus the sweet little pepper’s zero.

I also bought a bag of avocados and find that 1/2 is satisfying. Compared to a snack attack of parmesan cheese crips (19 = 1g of carbs, 13g protein, 10g fat for 150 calories), one-half of an avocado is 3g of carbs, 3g of protein, 15g of fat for 182 calories … plus 9g of fiber. While that makes the crisps sound like a not bad deal, they are highly processed and feel like a cheat instead of a healthy food and it’s much easier to eat crisps mindlessly.

Somewhere, I find a guiding idea: 

Carbs are a limit.

Protein is a goal.

Fat is a hunger lever.

After analyzing my data for the first 17 days, it’s clear that carb intake on one day directly affects the blood glucose reading the next morning. My carb limit needs to be taken down a step if I want to get my glucose readings into the ideal zone.

Metrics: Ketosis .2; blood glucose: 8 days over 110, 3 days under 100, weight loss: 0. Energy good, sleep excellent, dreams exceptional, motivation wavering but recharged.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Sweet Peace #40: Low Carb Report

Read comments first

This is Day 11 of the 30-day challenge and I’m finding it’s not as easy nor as dramatic as I had hoped … nor as difficult as I thought it was the first two times I tried it years ago. I believe doing the 66-day sugar fast eliminated some of the carb cravings that I’ve had before. While I hadn't been in ketosis, I was already focusing on a lower carb eating range.

So far, my energy has been a little low but seems to be coming back to normal range. Sleep seems about the same with a greater number of significantly interesting dreams.

Blood Glucose: Biggest disappointment so far is that my blood glucose hasn’t changed … still fluctuating around 110. I was sure it would drop dramatically since I’m doing no sugar and maintaining about 22 grams of carbs per day. I’m beginning to worry that I might need to drop the carbs even lower.

Weight: Dropped four pounds quickly and two have come back. This isn’t the main reason for doing this challenge, but I had hopes of seeing more response.

Ketosis: It took almost 8 days to get into ketosis and I’m at 0.5, the beginning of the hallmark of nutritional ketosis that runs from 0.5 to 3 mg/dL. I’m hoping that getting into the higher levels will show a drop in blood glucose and weight. However, the main goal is to stay within the macros set by Carb Manager, the app I'm using to track what I'm eating.

Hunger: I am seldom hungry and almost never “craving hungry.” Keto is so big right now that there are several aids for those gnoshy moments. Three shown below.

App: Carb Manager is a great help for tracking. During the 30-day challenge, my determinant of success is tracking every day and not going over 30 carbs in any one day. Carb Manager is easy to use and I have created some foods that I eat regularly so I don’t have to enter the individual ingredients. They also run 4-week challenges and I’ve just started one of those to see how it affects my motivation.

What I’m missing: I eat in a cafeteria which is definitely not aligned to this nutritional program. They do have a good salad bar with cottage cheese and sunflower seeds, so that is a staple that I can supplement with some egg-and-cheese-based concoctions I make in my room.

However, before this challenge, my Sunday morning treat was bacon and cream of wheat with peanut butter and jam. Fortunately, bacon made the cut. 

I miss fruit. Assuming I get my blood glucose under control, I’m hoping I will be able to add back a reasonable amount of fruit in the future.

All in all, I think this is the right path to be on and am definitely willing to continue to the 30-day mark. Then I will have another round of laboratory tests to see if there is progress from the last one.


Ketosis Monitoring … all reports recommend monitoring ketones by blood monitors versus urine strips. However, the monitors and test strips are relatively expensive so I am opting for urine testing on a daily basis and blood testing on a weekly basis.

A year or so ago, I was thinking about going low carb, so I bought a Keto Mojo ketone monitor. I didn’t do a good job of shopping since I already had a blood glucose monitor. What truly disappointed me was that the strips are individually packaged and a pain to open. And there were only ten of them and replacement strips were $1 per strip. 

I’ve just ordered a cheaper version in order to do the weekly monitoring.

Keto Snacks: There are a lot of keto stuff on the market, some of which is not all that good nor good for you. One of my criteria is taste … must be good enough to fill a craving but not so good as to trigger a binge. It’s a narrow window. Here are three things that are working:

Keto Bombs: dark chocolate and nuts, two squares are 1 net carb. Great way to end the day, although this morning, it was a great way to end breakfast! All things in moderation, she says to herself.

Whisps: small round parmesan crackers, 19 (a lot!) are 1 net carb. These are crunchy and very good.

Kind protein bars: good … too good. 1 bar is 13 net carbs, which blows a big hole in a day’s carbs macro. Cutting it in half would be a reasonable thing to do. I’ve yet to manage reasonable. Available for emergencies only.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Love Letter to My Life #51: Everything dies, but seldom when we're ready

(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day: the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my joy-filled life. In  December, I get to celebrate both my birth and death days on the same day. Joyce Wycoff)   

    There’s something about having done 50 of these love letters that makes me wonder where I’ll be on #100 … assuming, of course, I make it that far. 49 months from now will put me at October 17, 2026, and safely into my 80s.  Not only is there a possibility that I won’t be here, there’s a probability that death will touch my life in the next four years, whether it be friends, acquaintances, the ultimate loss of whole species, or the multitudes that will be lost to climate disasters, famine, plague, war and other violence. Everything dies, but seldom when we’re ready.

    This week Yvon Chouinard and his family gifted Patagonia, valued at $3 Billion, to the earth. They resigned from the billionaire club and constructed an elaborate system which is estimated to yield approximately $100 million dollars per year to be used for fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature.

    Patagonia has contributed to this same cause for 50 years and has already contributed over $140 million to environmental conservation. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking, if the Chouinards can do that, what can I do? If we all rise to the Patagonia challenge of doing whatever we can, perhaps we can stop this slide into chaos.

    Today, I took a break from a long run of focused work and decided to “make something beautiful.” I started trying this and then that, and experimenting with a couple of Photoshop tricks. It was going well enough until the words “everything dies” registered in my brain and things started turning dark.

    An egret wandered into the picture early on. That wasn't surprising. I fell in love with egrets while in Ajijic and spent many late afternoons taking hundreds of photos of them reflected on the water, colored by the setting sun. They appeared in a lot of photos and paintings. Here are just a few:

Love is in the air

Egret Evening

Egret Dance

    However, today was different. Not at first, but gradually the image took on an ominous feel until I finally recognized it as The Last Egret. I know there will be a last egret for me, just as there will be a last everything. The particular one in this image was in Florida and now I see them at the lagoon near me. I don’t know when I will see the last one, but knowing that I will makes my heart ache. 

The Last Egret

   Knowing that there may come a day when every egret is gone is heart breaking. I don’t know what I can do to prevent or delay that day but Yvon Chouinard just convinced me that I can do something … I have to do something. I hope you … all of you ... find your own something.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Sweet Peace #39: Is Diabetes Reversible ... my 30-day low carb experiment

Poison Oak ... a recognized poison

Five years ago while I was in Mexico, a woman introduced me to Keto. She was a well-meaning woman who desperately wanted to be a healer, and maybe she was. However, her approach was not grounded in science and it didn’t take long for doubts to arise and the idea to fall aside.

Since then, I’ve taken on a bias of “it doesn’t work for me,” and latched onto every anti-Keto story, avoiding a whole lot of “it worked for me” stories. Five years pass and my blood sugar numbers are still in the slightly-high range, and nothing that I do seems to make a difference, including doing a 66-day sugar fast and continuing to maintain sugar as a rarity.

It seems as though my blood sugar has a mind of its own, and I’m beginning to believe age may be a contributing factor and that this just may be “it.” After all, diabetes is all over my maternal bloodline and my mother died in a nursing home with diabetic related dementia. As far as I know, my grandmother and most of my aunts also had this disease. One thing that came out of seeing my mother inject herself with insulin was that I started monitoring my own blood sugar almost 30 years ago. However, now it seems like I am being overtaken by the family disease.

Then I came across a snippet of a Dr. Peter Attia podcast with Dr. Sarah Hallberg, a researcher and practitioner focused on reversing diabetes. Everything she said made sense and gave me new hope. The following morning I woke up determined to find out more about Dr. Hallberg only to find out that she died a few months ago after years of battling stage-4 lung cancer.

For some reason, I felt real grief and took her loss personally. I spent most of the day watching her videos, including a gut-wrenching one made when she was given an award only a few weeks before she died. She was a pioneer and a champion of the possibility of reversing diabetes. Her research and other extensive research in this area all come to one conclusion: diabetes is a carbohydrate tolerance disorder.  Low carb diets can reverse diabetes and many of the other related diseases.

The bottomline of this is that I am now on a 30-day low carb challenge … basically following a Keto program … it only took five years to circle back to this point.

For any of you who are interested in finding out more about low carb and diabetes, here are the videos with Dr. Sarah that I recommend. And, fyi, I am using Carb Manager as the tracking app for this 30-day period. Today is Day 4.

This podcast with Dr. Hallberg and Dr. Attia contains a statistic that shocked me:

Over 50% of Americans are diabetic or pre-diabetic. And to make it worse, 88% of Americans are NOT in optimum metabolic health … that additional 38% could be considered pre- pre-diabetic. This is based on the 5 criteria for metabolic disease and anyone with 3 of the 5 would be classified in the 88%.  Here are the criteria that marks the presence of metabolic disease.

  • Blood glucose over 100 
  • Blood pressure over 130/80 
  • HDL cholesterol UNDER 50 (women) 40 (men)
  • Triglycerides over 150 (Drs. Hallberg and Attia recommend under 100)
  • Waist circumference over 36” for women; and over 40” for men:

Dr. Sarah Hallberg TEDxPurdueU, 9 million views

And the gut-wrenching video that made me love and appreciate Dr. Sarah even more:

If anyone wants to join me on this 30-day challenge, email me at jwycoff at me dot com.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Sweet Peace #38: We humans are a curious lot

Grinding hole found in local park

It’s Tuesday. The calendar reminds me of my commitment to write a Sweet Peace post every Tuesday. However, this week it snuck up on me and I have no thoughts about what to write. We’re in the midst of a heat wave and my physical well-being is fried, boiled might be a better term since I’m in a limp-noodle state which feels neither sweet nor peaceful.

And then … and then Richard Branson sends me a note, asks me a question which tickles the feather of energy still floating through my being: 

What words keep you centered 

and motivated when you wake up?”

I survey the empty parking lot of my mind and finally see a pebble in the far corner. I turn it over and written in tiny, almost illegible letters are the words: Everything is a gift! Almost involuntarily, I feel the lift of those words and decide to reply to Richard’s note, since he asked. There I find 666 comments already in place. No point adding my meager offering, I think.

Because the energy bucket is running on fumes, however, I follow the call of a shiny rabbit and begin to read the comments. Suddenly a world opens up, an interconnected, human world of pain and sorrow, success and defeat, generosity and crass opportunism.

After a ridiculous amount of time passes wandering in this rabbit hole, it suddenly dawns on me that Richard Branson, one of the most successful people on the planet, someone with 4.4 million subscribers to his LinkedIn newsletter, is beloved by some, castigated by others, and never hears from the rest.

By the time I pulled myself out of this quagmire, there were 1,129 comments on Branson’s post … that is roughly .02% of his followers. Some appreciated his words, some wanted to tell their own stories, and some wanted his money or power. However, 99.98% of his followers never saw his post, didn’t read it, or … like me … didn’t bother to comment.

It is a lesson worth the off-track jaunt. I can only control the efforts I make, the way the world responds to my offerings is completely out of my hands. The world is a busy place with people trying to make their way through a tsunami of information. While they crave information that will help them on their journey through life, at the same time, they feel the pressure to run faster, skim the surface, try to grab the next bright bit. For information creators, dealing with this push/pull can be daunting.

Rather than doing nothing though, Branson sat down and wrote a few thoughts from his life that he thought might be inspirational to some people (and they are) and probably to also give himself the pleasure of reliving some of his path and honoring people who inspired and motivated him.

We never know what effect our words will have. Often, people receiving the words may also not know the effect of those words until some time in the future when the words come back at just the moment they're needed. While I thought Branson's words were motivational, what really inspired me was his taking the time to share them and the way he shared them without expectation of return. He offered his thoughts, saying, “For anyone in need of inspiration, I hope you find these phrases useful.” 

Even in my energy-challenged state, I feel a call to carry on, to continue sharing thoughts and words and hoping that some of them will take root like seeds on plowed ground. I also feel a renewed desire to carry on with this 52-week commitment to Sweet Peace, confident that there will always be new lessons on the journey.

You can find Branson's newsletter post at Ask Richard Newsletter

And, should you want a taste of the comments, here is the essence of some that caught my attention:

  • A grieving woman wants to sue the vet for the death of her cat
  • An older worker bemoans the difficulty of getting a decent job
  • A father grieving his son, dead from COVID, and dealing with a world that seems cold and cruel
  • One person shares:  if you don't ask, the answer is always no
  • A candidate for the prime ministry of the UK asks Branson what he’s going to personally do about the state of the world, specifically climate change
  • Another response solicits funds for a renewable energy project
  • A man wants a job at Virgin
  • An invitation for Richard to come to a remote place to tell his story.
  • A man sends the first paragraph of the book he is writing
  • An idea to help Richard make more profit
  • A touching thank you to life
  •  A parent says, "I may not be a business owner or have a prominent position in the organization that i work for, but at home I am valued more than anything and that is what motivates me."
  • A guy explaining the “Theory of Everything” says, “Richard, if you keep an open mind, you will realize that this is the most important comment you've ever received.”
  • For some reason, one guy thinks Richard Branson should invite him to Branson’s private island
  • A request for funding for a series of Christian films
  • A guy who has a proposal to save Ukraine, tells Branson, “I am your only salvation.” (All in caps) In an earlier comment, the same all-caps guy tells Branson “YOU HAVE FLET THE WRATH OF GOD.” And again, “YOU ARE A CON ARTIST ... I AM THE ONLY GUY THAT CAN SAVE ... VIRGIN GROUP.”
  • A man with the tagline, “Making tomorrow’s future, today,” accuses Branson and the commenters of living on Planet Optimism and explains the “reality” of “greed conquering goodness and evil supplanting everything worthwhile and wholesome.”

There's more, but life calls me back to reality and the last whiff of energy just drifted away.