Dot to Trot

My world is expanding as my butt is shrinking!

Archive for the category “Awesome Apps”

Meditation Explained

Ugh! I never knew it was so stressful trying to destress.  I downloaded an app to help me with practicing mindfulness (a.k.a. meditation). The app – Insight Timer — is good, but I’m spending a lot of time searching for “guided” sessions to help me release anxiety and with sleep.

I think the skeptic in me has a hard time buying into the concept of fighting stress by just “being in the moment” and focusing on my “breath.”  So I’m not giving the recordings a fair shot.

With all my frustration with mindfulness, I turned to the only source I could think of to help me let go of my resistance to meditation: Ultra Spiritualist JP Sears.

I met with a new doctor last week (I’ll post about that meeting tomorrow) and she suggested a few recordings to check out. Of course I didn’t…until now. With my insomnia, I just don’t have the energy to be overly critical anymore. So this morning I’m checking out the doc’s recommendations. Hopefully the search ends soon and I can start relaxing and sleeping again.

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Ideas For A Very Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Can’t believe Turkey Day 2016 is already here. I’m up early to start cooking. Here are a few tips to help make this day as enjoy able as possible for those of you doing the cooking:

  1. Have a plan of attack!  It just makes it less stressful if you plan everything out. If you are baking a lot of dishes (like me), plan your time around the turkey. I’m up early to get a head start. My pie is already in the oven. Cranberries are done. That frees me up for the rest of the morning to get my stuffing and Brussels sprouts au gratin dish ready. Both go in the oven when that 22 pound bird comes out.
  2. Butter and Cream…they really do make everything taste better.
  3. Ask for help. My husband asked if he can help me prep. I’m going to put the man to use to keep my stress levels in check.
  4. Download A Free Timer App Now. My timer app is something I can do without, especially when cooking my bird.
  5. Treat yourself.  Once that bird goes in the oven, do something a little special for yourself. Maybe a short walk. Or someone can give you a back rub. You deserve it for all that hard work.  Me? A glass of champagne has become my ritual on Turkey Day.

As an added bonus, here’s a lovely chart to help you with Turkey times.

turkey-chart

My Recipe Project

steak & zoodle salad

I’ve started organizing all my recipes so healthy and tasty dishes like this don’t go the way of the Dodo!

I’ve spent months researching a good recipe manager. Nothing seems to meet my needs. Am I that picky or are these programs designed by people who don’t cook healthy foods? It seems like a little of both. Besides having a consolidated location for all my recipes, I really want one that can do the nutrition calculations. I thought I found it with MacGourmet. Nope!

The program isn’t intuitive, the nutrition calculator is horrible (the big selling point for me), and  frankly it wastes my time fighting serving size selection and missing ingredients — it really has no clue that something called sea salt is real. As an added bonus, I’m stuck with hundreds (if not thousands) of non-LCHF recipes unless I want to manually delete each one. Grrrr! Read more…

Tracking Net Carbs – Great My Fitness Pal Hack

Found a simple hack that allows My Fitness Pal to calculate net carbs for me. So this app lives another day!

Found a simple hack that allows My Fitness Pal to calculate net carbs for me. So this app lives another day!

There are two ways to track carbs — count the total carbs or net carbs (fiber subtracted from carbs). Neither is right or wrong. It’s just a personal preference. I started this journey counting net carbs. Lately I tried counting total carbs but I’m switching back to net carbs.

My biggest hang up is tracking. The easiest food tracker app is My Fitness Pal. But like most food diaries it’s too focused on calorie counting and favors the low-fat diet.  Both are useless when you go low carb.

Thankfully Lynn at the Traveling Low Carb blog has a great ‘keto hack’ for My Fitness Pal. The hack allows the diary to track net carbs for you.  It took me less than 2 minutes to install.  Easy peasy!

Oh, and be sure to check out Lynn’s blog too. It has great trips for those of you who travel or eat out a lot.

Book Review: The Ketogenic Cookbook

My new cookbook. The recipes taste amazing. This to this book, I'm even more inspired to get into my kitchen and start experimenting!

My new cookbook. The recipes taste amazing. This to this book, I’m even more inspired to get into my kitchen and start experimenting!

Since going ketogenic, I’ve struggled with getting more healthy fat into my diet. Yes, I love butter. But I’d like to think I’m a little more creative in the kitchen than just adding a tablespoon of butter on top of my steak. That’s why The Ketogenic Cookbook is a godsend!

The recipes are high in fat, easily allowing me to hit my daily goal of consuming 75-80% of my calories in healthy fat. The recipes look amazingly delicious. And like my Julia Child’s cookbook, it inspires me to get into the kitchen and play with ingredients.

I’m working my way through the book, busily making lots of sauces and dressings in the book’s “Condiments, Dressings, Broth and Other Basics” section. The tomato sauce and yellow marinara sauce recipe were more than worth the price. This week I’m testing out the “compound butter” recipe using beef tallow and duck fat! Read more…

Cubicle Diet – Lunch Ideas For Eating Healthy At The Office

Looking for great lunch and snack ideas to spice up your lunches and keep that keeps the vending machine at bay? Check out Nom Nom Paleo for great, healthy lunchbox ideas.

Looking for great lunch and snack ideas to spice up your lunches and keep that keeps the vending machine at bay? Check out Nom Nom Paleo (an awesome food blog you should bookmark!) for great, healthy lunchbox ideas.

My husband regularly comes home from work complaining about the assortment of donuts, bagels, Panera sandwiches, cupcakes, cookies and other carb-loaded, sugary temptations at the office. When he is home, I know he eats healthy because he eats what I give him. But for a man who proclaims “pie” as his favorite food group, that daily 9-5 grind is more problematic.

Sure I send him to work with healthy lunches, but are they appetizing? When I’m scrambling around in the morning to make his lunch, I’m going for convenience (for me). I never really thought my cooking was in competition with this processed junk.

Perhaps my lunches are too boring for the hubby’s taste buds. They certainly are losing out to the junk sitting out across from his lair cube.

Reality hit me the other day when he blogged about a nightmare he had the other night. A dream so hideous that it shook him to his very core — he was at a buffet and they never filled the French toast bin. Oh, the horror!

I think it’s time to rethink my lunches.

Thankfully Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo packed a ton of great lunch ideas in one location on her awesome blog. For both kids and adults, her food combos can more than compete with any of that processed crap.

Besides her 20+ ideas, Michelle includes a mess of lunch related links to give you even more ideas.

We’re headed to Florida this week. While the hubby is attending a writer’s conference I’ll slave away on a game plan for next week’s lunches…all done poolside of course!

Want to Lose Weight? Try Sleeping

I’ve mentioned the link between weight gain and not getting enough sleep before. If you’re still not convinced, check out the awesome TED Talks by Neuroscientist Russell Foster – Why Do We Sleep?

One startling stat that Foster mentioned: if you sleep 5 hours or less a night, you have a 50% chance of being obese. Yikes!

In the 1950s, the average person slept 8 hours a night. Nowadays we sleep 2-½ hours less. A common result: we do stupid things to stay awake, eating being a big one. I’ve written before about the lack of sleep and our body releasing the hormone ghrelin in large quantities. As Foster puts it, once ghrelin hits the brain, “…the brain says, ‘I need carbohydrates,’ and what it does is seek out [carbs] and particularly sugars.”

Lack of sleep also causes sustained stress, which in turn causes our bodies to release more glucose into circulation. Over time, we become glucose intolerant, causing our bodies to produce even more glucose. This increases the chances of contracting Type 2 Diabetes.

Peekabu isn't sleep deprived. Are you?

Peekabu isn’t sleep deprived. Are you?

Are You Sleep Deprived?

  • Do you need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning?
  • Are you taking a long time to get up (think snooze button)?
  • Do you need lots of caffeine in the morning to get going?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above then you’re deprived.

How To Get Your 8 Hours
Foster’s solution to getting a good night’s sleep is something we’ve all heard, yet I still have a hard time doing.

  • Keep your bedroom dark and slightly cool
  • Reduce light exposure 30 minutes before bed
  • Turn off mobile phones, TV, tables, and computers
  • No caffeine after lunch

My bedroom isn’t too bad. I just need the animals to stay off the bed, as they seem to prefer snuggling on top of me.

As for no caffeine after lunch, that starts tomorrow (I’m currently brewing some now and can’t waste it).

However, I’m still a slave to turning on the bathroom light to brush my teeth right before bed. Bad move! Our bright bathroom light stimulates the brain. I guess it’s time to start flossing and brushing 2 hours before bed. Another incentive not to eat late!

Blue vs. Red Light
My habit of playing with my iPad before bed is messing with my sleep-wake cycle.

Visible light is made up of wavelengths which our eyes see as color. Our biological clocks evolved to wake us up during the day and make us sleepy when light starts to fade.

Electronic screens emit light that fall into the blue (bright sunny day) spectrum. Evening exposure to blue light via smart devices prohibits melatonin (the sleep hormone) production, delaying sleep for at least an hour or more. In the evening, the red spectrum is best for winding down.

So does that mean I need to disconnect completely?

Sure enough, there’s an app for that — f.lux.

F.lux is freeware that alters the color spectrum of smart devices. As the day goes on, your screen mimics sunlight based on your time zone. So your screen moves through the color spectrum — from blue (day) to red (night)– matching the light in your natural environment (i.e., the position of the sun).

While I’m experimenting with f.lux this week, I still need to limit my tablet use in the evenings. A challenge for sure, but one I’m up for.

“Sleep Is God. Go Worship”
I’m on Day 12 of my Primal Challenge and the sleep portion still alludes me. But after this TED Talks, I’m determined to not treat sleep like the enemy.

As author Jim Butcher wrote, “Sleep is God. Go worship.” I intend to do so.

 

My Fitbit One Crapped Out On Me…I Think

My Fitbit One's charge never lasted the promised 7 days. Now either the device or the charging cord bit the dust.

My Fitbit One’s charge never lasted the promised 7 days. Now either the device or the charging cord bit the dust.

Well it’s looking like my Fitbit One bit the dust yesterday. Or the charging cable died a horrible death. I checked on it after charging it on my laptop for a few hours. Nothing…no display…no positive message display…nada.

I even tried hooking it up to my mom’s computer just in case it was my laptop. Same result. Sigh…

I won’t know if the device or cable needs replacing until I get back home. Thankfully I have a 2-year warranty, but nothing happens until I’m back in Virginia. So for the next 6 days neither Fitbit or the NSA can track my movements. I’m back to staying 10,000+ steps a day ahead of “The Man!” Read more…

Running With Zombies? Beating Mental Roadblocks

I'm getting stronger, running my longest distance yet (3.28 miles). Now its time to work on those negative thoughts with a fun, new app that combines storytelling and 5K training. Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhoto.net and Sura Nualpradid.

I’m getting stronger, running my longest distance yet (3.28 miles). Now its time to work on those negative thoughts with a fun, new app that combines storytelling and 5K training. Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhoto.net and Sura Nualpradid.

Maybe I felt guilty about eating that ice cream this weekend. Or there was some residual stress from my husband’s hospital stay. Whatever the reason, after a short warm up walk, I ran 3.28 miles Monday. That’s more than a 5k baby!

During the run, my greatest challenge was mental not physical. As I hit the 1.5-mile mark, I started telling myself “I need to stop.” I felt physically great and my legs were strong. For some reason “I need to stop” became a mantra on endless loop in my head. Ugh! Read more…

Attention Water Drinkers — A Must Have App For Movie Date Night

Getting in my 3 liters of water a day is awesome. But it can play havoc on my movie going experience. Well thanks to this nifty little app, I can better plan my bladder breaks.

Getting in my 3 liters of water a day is awesome. But it can play havoc on my movie going experience. Well thanks to this nifty little app, I can better plan my bladder breaks.

To lose weight, I drink a lot of water. I’m talking more than 100 ounces a day.  But that means more trips to the little girls room, which is fine, except on our little date night outings to the movies.

I normally love going to the movies. But with all the water I drink, at some point, usually during an important part of the film, nature calls.  Ugh! It’s not like I have a pause button on the projector. How do I know when to make a break for it if I’ve never seen the film before?

It’s worse with my husband. He usually has multiple runs to the bathroom thanks to the troth of diet coke he drinks before and during a film. It also means he’ll ask me 20 questions on what he missed.

Well RunPee is the perfect solution! It tells you the best time to run to the bathroom during a film. That’s amazing! Now I don’t have to think about how much water I should have two hours before a movie starts. And the hubby can proudly drink his Homer Simpson size drink and hold his head high knowing he’ll only miss the slow/dull/unimportant parts of a film.

But wait, it gets better! The app also provides you with a little synopsis with each pee run so you know exactly what you missed. Sweet! No more asking me 20 questions.

The app includes timers so it vibrates to let you know it’s time to go to the bathroom, leaving fellow movie goers in peace.

It’s $0.99, but it’s so worth it.

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