Posted in Personal Interest

My KETO Journey

Who likes dieting? Yeah, right. Of course… NO ONE.

But for some of us, it is a must. Because we love food, we are social people and our metabolism is not working as generously as it does for others.

I’m now 36 years old and I have tried any kind of diet possible out there, on and off, since I was 16. And let me tell you… Nothing worked like KETO did.

I want to talk to you about my KETO journey. What you SHOULD do and what you SHOULDN’T do, based on my own experience. I will give you some recipes, some links to help you prepare you for Keto and also will give you some #hashtags to follow on Instagram.

I have lost 16 pounds (~7 kg) in 2.5 months. I lost 10 pounds of it during the first week. If you stick to the rules religiously, you will get results. But KETO is a difficult diet to do for a lot of people.

Why Some People Think Keto is Difficult?

  1. You need to weigh your food. Why? Look at number 2.
  2. You need to count your macros. You need to know how many calories, how much carbs, protein and fat you are eating every day. There are many apps for that including Mymacros and Fitnesspal. Internet has pretty much has nutrition facts for all kinds of food. We need to make sure we are getting enough fat and protein, getting no more than 20g carb and not going above your calorie limit.
  3. You need to do meal prep. Otherwise, you will fail. Because of number 1 and number 2, eating out is not a great option.
  4. No Cheat meal allowed in KETO.
  5. Absolutely NO alcohol.
  6. Absolutely NO sugar.
  7. If you are a fruit lover, sorry. Only berries are allowed (And Avacado!)
  8. Well… No fruit rule of course comes with no fruit juice rule.
  9. No Soda.
  10. It is an expensive diet. On top of buying meat, cheese, organic vegetables, almond flour and nuts, you also will need to buy some nutritional supplements.

Why KETO is good then??

  1. Rapid weight loss gives you motivation. The first week, if you are doing everything right, you will lose 3-10 pounds, which is the water weight. Even though it is not the fat burn, it still makes you feel better and focus on your diet.
  2. The food is delicious. In comparison to other diets that I have tried, Keto has a lot of options. Steak, wings, eggs, bacon, cheese, butter, peanuts, almonds, these are all Keto friendly. Tell you this; anything with butter and cheese on them eventually tastes good.
  3. You feel full very quickly, even when you don’t eat much. In other diets I tried, this was my biggest problem. Half of the time, I was hungry. But on KETO, I never feel hungry. Never.
  4. You feel more energetic, the heavy feeling that carbs give you disappears. I had bloating and gas problems, they are all gone. It also balances your blood sugar levels. It also improved my stomach and sleeping problems. My skin got smoother healthier (see pphotos below, no filter in either! My dark wrinkles disappeared and my skin got smoother-PS. Can’t believe I’m sharing my ridiculous photos with you, haha).

Who SHOULDN’T Do Keto Diet?

  • People with High cholesterol
  • Growing Kids
  • People with Thyroid problem
  • Breastfeeding mothers
  • People with Type 2 Diabetes (KETO is good for Type 1 diabetes. My dad has it and KETO worked on him so well. He lost 10 pounds in a month and he used to get 38 units of insulin a day, in a month he took maybe 65 units in total!)
  • People with no gallbladder
  • Although there is a myth that KETO might affect kidneys in a bad way since it increases the acidity in urine, doctors are conflicted about this. As long as protein intake is moderate, keto diet is safe they say.

So, what is KETO diet anyway?

This is what http://www.ruled.me says:

When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin.

  • Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source.
  • Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.

Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored. Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis.

Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.

Photo from KETOGEEK

The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates.

Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source. 

How Do I Know my Daily Calorie Intake and Macros?

There are many ways to calculate your daily calorie intake. It depends also on how much activity you have in your life. The more active you are the more easily you are going to burn fat. If you give a 500 calories deficit a day, you should be able to lose 1-2 pounds every week. Here is the link I recommend to calculate your macros: https://www.ruled.me/keto-calculator For example, tight now, when I enter my info these are the macros that are calculated:

How Do You Track Your Macros?

This is a screenshot from the app that I use. If you are not technology friendly, you can use an excel sheet instead.

Once you create an entry in your app and save it, next time when you eat it, it will be already there for you.

One thing that you should not forget about your macros:

Only count Net Carbs! Net carbs means that you need to substract any fiber or sugar alcohol (not sugar!) from the total amount of carbs, that is the net carb. Keto only cares about the net carbs.

Common Mistakes in KETO

  • Eating not enough fat: “Fat is bad!” is ingrained in our brains so much that we fear the fat. But fat is the only source your body can use to make energy during Keto. You need to give it the fat it wants. This is why having set macros in the beginning is important. Don’t hesitate to put an extra splash of olive oil in your salad, or have extra butter in your eggs.
  • Eating too much protein: When people deprive themselves from the fat, they tend to turn to protein instead. However, eating too much protein is neither healthy nor helpful for weight loss.
  • Not counting calories: The dilemma is we need fat, but high fat foods have usually high calories. So the ‘amount’ of food is important.
  • Not drinking enough water: It is super important that you drink a LOT OF WATER during the day because KETO makes you lose a lot of water. Water molecules clinges on carbs in your cells and if there is no carb, then they are set free. You need to hydrate your body, otherwise you cannot function (And yes, you go to bathroom a lot during KETO :D)
  • Not taking nutritional supplements: Fruits have electrolytes that are necessary for our bodies and during KETO we are deprived of them. So, we need to get electrolyte supplements.
  • Forgetting about gut health: Try to stay away from sweeteners and try to use bone broth in your cooking. More information can be found here:https://drjockers.com/keto-diet-bad-microbiome/

What Are the Side Effects?

There are some side effects that I experienced.

  1. Keto Flu: During the adaptation phase, people commonly feel brain fog, fatigue, dizziness, intense hunger, irritability, and depression. It lasted 3 days or so for me. I was going to bed at 9:00 PM and I was getting mad at unnecessary things!
  2. Bad Breath: I did Keto twice. In the first one, I had bad breath and in the second one, I did not. I learned that bad breath is normal because Ketosis occurs when your body breaks down fat for energy. Fatty acids are then converted into ketones, which are natural chemicals your body produces when you burn fat for energy. These include beta hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone. That is why it smells bad.
  3. Leg Cramps: Low carb diets causes rapid water loss, that is why your electolides such as Zinc, Magnesium and Potassium get washed out of your body. If you do not replace them, you get cramps. Especially because I was working out, I got a lot of cramps in the beginning until I figured out what the problem was. After starting the take supplements, cramps disappeared.
  4. Hair Loss: This one is going to scare a lot of people, I know. It scared the hell out of me too, believe me. It can be due to many things but I suspect that mine was the stress that my body underwent during the rapid weight loss. I lost 1/3 of my hair. I will be honest, it was scary but I see that new hairs coming out and the doctors say the hair will come back in 3-6 months. I take Biotin and electrolide supplements. So I will keep you updated on that later. You can see my sad hair loss in the below picture (Also consider that I had a hair cut).

Where to Start?

  • First, read more about Keto from here, and calculate your macros and calorie goal here. Write it somewhere.
  • Take pictures of yourself in a way that you can see the change later from the front, side and the rear view.
  • Follow all the #keto accounts on Instagram. My favorite accounts are: ‘@thejoeduff’ for amazing dessert recipes and ‘@stay_snatched’ and ‘@flavcity’ or ‘@keto.meal’ for Keto meals in general.
  • Make a weekly meal plan and do shopping. Sundays are the best days for cooking marathon for me.
  • While cooking, add your meal logs in your macros app. What are the macros per each serving?
  • Start your diet not TOMORROW but TODAY. If you want to decide on ‘when is the best time to start a diet’ please check the beginning of my other post here: When to start dieting
  • Weigh yourself every Saturday, in the morning, naked and after you use the restroom, on an empty stomach. Record this weight in your macros app. Take a photo of your body from each side, every Saturday. The first week, you will start losing way on your third day.
  • Please please please remember to drink lots of water. Carry a bottle with you everywhere.
  • Compare your weight and photos every week.
  • Do not forget to recalculate your macros once you start losing weight. Because the lighter you get, the less calorie intake you need to lose weight.

What to cook?

I have tried a variety of different recipes, mostly from basic Google search or Instagram search. I have already told you my favorite accounts on instagram. You can also follow me ‘@eceketo’ on Instagram. Definitely follow instagram for motivation and recipe ideas 🙂 . I gathered my favorite recipes here: KETO_Cookbook_EceGurler

Also, you can look at the meals I cooked before and have an idea:

I sticked with the rules and I got results. The first week will be tough, but then you will get used to it and it will get easier, fun and you will feel much better. Just don’t forget to count your macros, get your supplements and drink your water!

You can do this!!!!

-Hoscakalin

Ece

Posted in the USA

What to Do in Chicago

After living in Chicago for 3 years, I could say that despite the severe cold in winter, it was a lovely city to live in. Now that I live in Boston, I can see the differences. Boston has the history, and its historical city structure gives it a home-like soul for me. Also most of the people are either students or entrepreneurs. In Chicago, with high rises and spread out city structure, it is more like bustling city with mostly white collars. There is certainly a lot more to do in Chicago and their restaurants are by far the best I have ever been to. Definitely, Chicago is a foody city.

In my 3 years of experience, of course I had some favorite places to go 🙂 And for the tourists who are about to visit Chicago, or students who are willing to study there or people who are getting ready to move there for work, can benefit from this list. I enjoyed every single one of these and most of the pictures here are from my camera. Sorry if you find Snapchat shots cheesy, but I prefer being more authentic and cheesy to being boring since I find internet photos really stereotyped.

  1.Field Museum

As a science lover and geologist, I LOVE Field museum. Probably I have been there 6 times already. Allow yourselves 5-6 hours to visit 75% of the museum, if you want to read every description and enjoy each exhibition, of course. With “Evolving Planet” you can see step by step evolution of earth and living things. “Inside Ancient Egypt” exhibits real mummies from Egypt and their artifacts are breathtaking. Giant fossils and bones of dinasours, real, taxidermied animals from polar bear to Buffalo and giraffes. Artifacts of ancient American civilizations such as Mayans, Incas and Native Americans. Rocks section is almost perfect, they have real meteorites in exhibit which you can actually touch (I don’t advise licking it though :D)

I can’t help but explain here what is happening in the pictures above: (From left to right) 1st one is Native American clothing and tools, Number 2 and 3 are the taxidermied animals (Real animals are stuffed after dying) 4th one is the minerals and where they are used in real life, number 5 and 6 are meteorites that hit the earth. Number 7 is our great great great….grandmother  Lucy from Africa. Number 8 speaks for itself, Number 9 is a fossil of a fish who died while feeding on another fish! You can see the fish it ate right before dying at the bottom of its belly! Number 10 is a fossil of a turtle which shows and evolutionary fact: They used to have tails! The other pictures also belong the dinasours except the one at the bottom right which shows the mummies exhibit.

     2. Adler Planetarium

If you are interested in astronomy, space and stars, this is your place. Their 3D shows on their dome is absolutely wonderful and very informative. Their lakeview cafe is a place that you won’t mind spending time at. My cover photo for this post is actually from the terrace of the Planetarium. My brother Ege, when he visited me in 2016 gave this pose with too much excitement:

Image result for adler planetarium

3. The Art Institute of Chicago

Such a great art museum with one of a kind pieces. From famous “American Gothic” by Grant Wood to “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island” of La Grande Jatte painted in 1884. The latter painting is exceptionally important because even though the painting has many brush strokes of different color, when you look from far, they look unified in color! “Lincoln in Dalivision” is an original limited edition lithograph created by Salvador Dalí and it must definitely be seen. Also, Van Gogh’s exhibition is still on.

    4. Shedd Aquarium

This aquarium has all the sea animals that you love, from penguins to seals and dolphins. Let’s not forget the scary sharks.

5. Millenium Park

This is the signature place when you think about Chicago. Located in the heart of Chicago, the Loop, it is a nice chilling place… Well… Not really, sorry, it is usually quite busy haha. The ‘Bean’ sculpture, which was originally named as ‘Cloud Gate’ by its creator Sir Anish Kapoor , is the landmark of Chicago. Also, my favorite is the water splitting, face fountains. Especially kids love them! You can see me posing in front of the Bean with my mom and my friend Waithira:

  6. Lincoln Park Zoo and Lincoln Park Conservatory

I know that some people are against zoos. I will not argue it here but I really learn a lot about animal kingdom whenever I visit a zoo. Especially our ancestors, apes fascinates me! Lincoln Park Zoo is free and open all year around. During Holiday season, they light the whole zoo up with Christmas lights. It is gorgeous.

Also, the zoo has one of the best skyline. Here you can see we are trying to get the skyline in the background at the Zoo, I should confess, we kinda failed it.

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Lincoln Park Conservatory is also free and it exhibits all kinds of flowers and plants from all around the world. It is just by the zoo and definitely worths a visit!

7. Navy Pier

One of the most historic tourist attraction in Chicago. Navy Pier is beautiful despite the fact that the tourist crowds really get tiring very quickly. Many places to eat, drink and enjoy the scenery. Some of the cruises sail from here if you want to take a lake tour.

Navy Pier at Night

Navy Pier during the day

Navy Pier is famous for the oldest wheel in the US, The Ferris Wheel. It runs as long as there is no issues with the wind.

8. Willis Tower – Skydeck Chicago

If you are not afraid of height and a patient person in general, definitely you must experience the Skydeck. You can see beautiful Chicago from the 103rd floor of Willis tower, and step on the glass balcony to feel like you are flying. I told you you need to be patient because especially at the weekends, the line gets reallyyyy longggg. But it gives great pictures for instagram 🙂 Here you can see my friend Mehmet and I posing at Skydeck.

9. Beaches

Chicago beaches are amazing. You can take a walk, ride your bicycle, run or in summer you can enjoy the sand and cold water 😀 They are clean and not terribly crowded. Bring your sunscreen though! Because with the wind, you don’t realize you get sun burned. Trust me on this, experience is speaking.

The most popular beaches are Montrose, North Avenue and Ohio Street ones. Pictured: My friend Ipek and I taking a walk by the lake, walking towards North Avenue beach and my friend Ximena and I at the Montrose beach.

10. River Walk

The only river in the world that its course was manually reversed: The Chicago River. The reason it was reversed is that the sewage was flowing into lake before and the drinking water is supplied from Michigan Lake. So, clearly that was a problem.

“The River Walk” is a very fun late afternoon activity, if you ask me. There are bars and nice restaurants aligned near the river and if you want you can rent a kayak, as well. There are tours taking off from here and showing you the beautiful architecture, the river walk and then the lake. I highly recommend the night tour of the river and lake combined. I have taken one and the skyline at night was magical.

11. Chicago Bulls Game

If you are 80s’ kid like me you know what number 23 means. Michael Jordan’s posters were all over my wall in Turkey, I was a huge fan of Chicago Bulls! It is not quite the same anymore and they are not as successful as they used to be, but this is even better because their NBA tickets are more affordable! If you are going to Chicago, definitely experience a Chicago Bulls game.

12. Broadway in Chicago

Broadway is a must see, if you are travelling to the US. Generally it is expensive, but, trust me on this, it is worth every penny. Broadway originally belongs to New York City. But as the shows tour, they always stop by in Chicago, as well. This one below was one of the shows that I went to. When I used to teach Reading class at Inanc High School in Turkey, I used to teach this book. It was amazing to see how it was turned into a Broadway show.

13. Stand Up Comedy

One of the things I miss the most in chicago is the stand up shows. Zanies and Laugh Factory are the two most famous places to go. I also persoally enjoyed Improv Chicago shows at IO theater a lot. Every Wednesday there was a free show!

  14. Jazz and Blues

Greenmill is one of the oldest Jazz bars in the US and they are still running in Uptown area. I have been there many times, there is a cover charge and I recommend you to go there as early as possible to get a seat. You will see a video below from one of those nights. After music starts, they won’t let you speak, just saying. Literally they hush you. Also, House of Blues or Blue Chicago are among the best Blues bars. Definitely your soul needs some jazz and blues time!

A Jazz night at Greenmill

15. Latin Dancing

If you like or you want to practice Latin dancing, Chicago is the best place. Sunday Evenings there is Salsa night at Cubby Bear Chicago, and I used to go to Lalo’s Mexican Restaurant for salsa, bachata or merenge. They had free salsa lessons on wednesday evenings and their food is great! There is also Nacional 27 which was very popular among my students, but I have never been there. In Chicago, it is hard to find a seat if you go to the place after 7 pm, so plan accordingly!

Here is a short snap of one of the salsa nights that I went to at Lalo’s:

Salsa night at Lalo’s

16. Festivals

There are so many festivals in Chicago during the summer. Most of them are food festivals but there are music, cultural and movie festivals as well. Check www.timeout.com/chicago for current and upcoming events in Chicago. When the festivals start, you can see their schedules here.

FOOD AND DRINKS

  1. Burger at ‘Au Cheval’

This place has been rated as the best burger place in the US. I cannot say it is the best since I haven’t eaten burger everywhere in the States. However, the best I have ever eaten so far. The only annoying thing about it is the wait line. Don’t ever think that you can eat there at the weekends. The kitchen closes at 3 at the weekend and when I went there at noon, they put me in the wait list. My turn didn’t come in 3 hours!! So I had to eat somewhere else. But, once I went there at 4 pm on a Friday, and it was half empty. Again, timing is important. I would say usual wait time is 2-3 hours. That is why it is the best option to wait across the street, at the bar called ‘Haymarket’ because they have delicious beer flights and pretzels. Perfect place to wait for your burger. Once your table is ready, Au Cheval texts you and if you download their app, you can actually see how many tables are in line before you. Definitely worth the wait for me.

You can see here how much my friend Meltem and my brother Ege enjoyed their burger at Au Cheval. Below, you can see Mehmet and I enjoying the beer flight at Haymarket while waiting for AuCheval. Meltem and I were at Haymarket, too and tried their best IPA, Mathias. It was fantastic.

2. Deep Dish Pizza at ‘Pequod’s’

OK pizza is from Italy, we all know that. But deep dish is super American. Lightly burnt crust, fresh ingredients and the homemade taste. Oh and also cheese, lots of cheese. That’s Pequod’s deep dish. When in chicago, you will here ‘Lou Malnati’s’ and ‘Giordano’s’ fans fighting over who makes the best deep dish pizza. You can argue and try all of them but, I will save the time for you, go and eat at Pequod’s. Not only the taste but also the environment is much better.

3. Authentic Korean Restaurant ‘Cho Sun Ok’

One time when I went to Cho Sun Ok with my Korean friend, she had said this was the closest thing she ate to real Korean food that you find in Korea. The food is AMAZING. Especially their seafood pancake and their small plates. They are incredibly cheap as well. Like almost every restaurant in Chicago, it is BYOB, meaning you can bring your own booze to drink. One thing to keep in mind though: They have a very small restaurant and they are popular. So they are not the politest servers you will see. They are racing with time. They are abrupt and quick. Also, expect wait lines during rush hours.

4. Turkish Restaurants : ‘Turquoise Cafe’ and ‘Pera’

Well, of course I needed to fix my Turkish food cravings! Turkish food is not going to be the cheapest, but I swear it will make you feel like in heaven. These two restaurants were my favorite. They both serve Turkish breakfast with fresh bread and unlimited Turkish tea, so please please make sure you try Turkish breakfast if you can.

5. Venezuelan Food: “BienMeSabe”

My other favorite food, Venezuelan cuisine. Their tequenos and arepas are the BEST! If you never tried Venezuelan food, please pay a visit to this restaurant in Chicago, you will be addicted!

6. Geja’s Cafe

This European restaurant is too overpriced for students. But… If you are celebrating an anniversary or a birthday with a special one, definitely this fondue restaurant is the romantic choice. I have been there only once but definitely planning to go back. There are discount coupons available at Groupon. Also, do not forget to make a reservation 3 weeks in advance. I apologize that I can’t use original pictures here since it was dark inside and my photos didn’t turn out good. But I’m using the photos from their website here.

7. ‘D.S. Tequila Co.’ in Boystown

This place has the best margarita bowls and loaded fries. Also in summer, their outside patio is the best place to stay cool.

8. Billy Goat Tavern

There are many locations now but the best one is the original one located at 430 N. Michigan Ave at Lower Level. 3-5 dollar beers and cheap burger and snacks. Wonderful option to get have a quick happy hour with your colleagues or catch up with your friends.

My old colleague Sam and I enjoying after work drinks at Billy Goat

9. Breakfast Places!! : IHOP or YOLK

At the weekend, if you want to have American breakfast: ommelettes, pancakes, waffles, breakfast potatoes, sausage and eggs, bacon, etc. These two places are my favorite. If you can find a local one, that is great. But till you find that, these are pretty good options.

10. Bulerias Tapas with Flamenco Show

If you like Spanish tapas and want to enjoy a live flamenco show while eating your delicious food, this restaurant is for you! I really liked the potato and fried calamari there. And the performance was impressive.

11. “Reza’s Restaurant” Middle Eastern/Iranian Cuisine

They have the tastiest, juciest kebabs. They are definitely one of a kind. Also, the portions are so big that you will have to take some home.

12. ‘Jake Melnick’s’ For the Best Chicken Wings

If you want to try different kinds of flavored wings, this is the place. They have a very good selection of beers and their garlic parmesan fries are absolutely delicious.

13. ‘Emporium’ Arcade Bars

If you want to play old video games and enjoy your drink, this is the perfect choice. There are many other arcade bars but Emporium locations are bigger and central.

14. “3 Arts Cafe” 

Their menu is a little expensive but its atmosphere is so calming, elegant and chic. If you get a nice seat, you can enjoy your book by the fountain or chat with your friend in the middle of the courtyard. This is also a furniture store so you can walk around after and enjoy different selections of furniture. I tried their lobster panini and it was delicious.

15. Friar Tuck

This is a neighborhood dive bar with a fireplace and free popcorn. They have karaoke and trivia nights as well. It is a quiter environment if you want to chat with your friend in not-so-loud environment and still enjoy your drink.

All in all, Chicago is a great place to be. That is why despite the cold, a lot of people cannot give up on this beautiful city. I don’t think I will move back again, but I left my heart there and I’m definitely going back there to visit and EAT!

Hoscakalin!

-Ece

Posted in Personal Interest

How to Keep Your Weight After Diet

I have always been curvy. Sometimes I got fatter, sometimes thinner. I always tried different diets and my body always have had good days and bad days.

ben1Ben2After trying Keto for 6 weeks and getting great results this year, I realized low carb diets are the best for me. Quick fat loss and delicious food. Plus, you don’t get hungry. Of course, there were side effects such as leg cramps, bad breath and hair loss. But the purpose of this blog is actually different than explaining Keto diet, which I will do in the future in detail. But it is more about why we fail the diets. Meaning, why do we gain the weight we lost after we finish dieting?

It is all in your head: your psychology. In other words, your thought process and your habits.

After we finish our diet with success, we are so happy and we gave ourselves a promise that, now, we will eat healthy, we will keep exercising, and we won’t make the same mistakes. But then what happens? 85% of all dieters regain their weight. Some of them even gain more than before!

It seems easy for some people to stay healthy and everyone seems to have an opinion:

“Oh, just stay away from flour, sugar and salt, you will lose weight, you don’t need a diet”

“My friend of a friend of a friend became vegan and now she looks so healthy”

“You should try gluten free”

“Just don’t eat that second slice of pizza!”

“I run every morning for an hour and I eat everything I want, just start running!”

“It is just calorie intake. Lower it, then you will lose weight! That’s it”

Well, That is not it.

I tried everything (except being vegan, against my nature): I tried fasting, I tried lowering my calorie intake and increasing exercise, I tried cutting flour, sugar and salt, I tried low fat, I tried low carb. Trust me, I tried EVERYTHING. Only diet seems to be working on me was Keto (A kind of low carb diet) and I got great results. However, afterwards, I slowly started to gain the weight back. While I was going through this process, I assessed my psychological swings. There were so many ups and downs. This blog is the story of the feelings I had and the battles I won and I lost with my consciousness.

Before I go through these dangerous psychological battles, I have a few pieces of advice about dieting:

  1. Timing is important: If your birthday or anniversary is coming up, if holiday season is at the door, don’t even bother start dieting. There is a 99% chance that you will fail. Also, if you are changing your routine, let’s say you are moving somewhere or changing jobs, getting a divorce, etc. it is not the best time to do a diet, either.
  2. Absolutely no alcohol during the weight loss process: Trust me on this. It slows down your weight loss process so much that it is a huge demotivator and it is not worth it.
  3. Who you hang out with is important: Peer pressure is real. When your friends are celebrating they want you to drink alcohol or eat shitty food with them. If you don’t, they start to make fun of you or they judge you”  ‘Oh, eat today, you can diet again tomorrow! haha” (As if it is really funny? No, I already started, thank you!) “You are not drinking? C’mon! This is why we came here!” (So are you saying that I have no business being here? So you accept me because I repeat what you do? Well, thanks, good to know!) “You are being boring” (Thanks for the motivation. If I say “I’m diabetic” or “I’ve food allergy” or “I’m pregnant” you would be so understanding though, and suddenly, I wouldn’t be boring, would I??)
  4. Exercise: It can be 30 min walk every day, you don’t have to run. Or you can do aerobics, you can do slow-medium speed biking. Or you can choose to do weight lifting. Just whatever you choose, light or intense, please ‘move’ your body. Some people don’t exercise thinking that light exercise doesn’t make a change. IT REALLY DOES. But, when you do it consistently. Consistency is the key.
  5. Count your calories and macros: Most people hate counting nutritional values. But in order to have a successful diet, you have to. At least you have to calculate and add your daily calorie intake. Afterall, you don’t want to fall below your daily calorie limit, either. Because then your body will think that you are starving and it will start storing fat.There are many apps that can help you count your calories and macros, such as MyMacros and Fitnesspal. But you can simply look at the nutrition label of your meal ingredients and calculate it yourself. Trust me, it is not rocket science 🙂
  6. Try to find delicous and relatively healthy recipes!: Cauliflower pizza, zucchini enchiladas, oven baked parmesan garlic broccoli, stew, salad with feta cheese, arugula, cherry tomatoes, avacado and pomegranate sauce. These were my favorite healthy recipes on Keto and my mouth was watering each time I made them.

 

Now… Let’s talk about the dangerous thoughts that cross your mind after you finish your diet.

  1. Now I want pizza, beer and wings and fries! I deserved it!

This is the first thought you will have after ending your diet. Although you can have these and you definitely deserved the food you missed, you need to be logical. Plan ahead: In the same week, are you going to eat out again? Celebrate something? Is there a possibility that you will have a happy hour after work? If one of these is the case, maybe you should delay your feast to one of these days. Don’t cross the line (meaning take more unhealthy calories than normally you  burn) more than once a week. If you have a deficit of 3500 calories in 1 week, you will lose 1 pound (~0.45 kg) but the reverse is also true. Those fries, beers and burgers can become the fat on your hips after the week ends.

2. I lost weight once, I can lose again. 

So, I will eat now whatever I want. Rachel Berman, R.D. says “It’s encouraging to see results fast and a restrictive diet may lead to more rapid weight loss,” she explains. “However, being on too much of a restrictive diet and losing weight quickly impacts your hunger hormones.” So, the second time you do the diet, you might not get the same results. Also, think about this: Where is this cycle going to end? Will continue forever? You can do better than this. Once this thought appears, just tell yourself that you want something stable and permanent. You don’t have the energy to go through the same diet again.

3. She is skinny/He is fit and they are eating all those mac and cheese and burgers! Therefore, so can I.

This is your amygdala speaking, the pleasure and reward center of your brain wants that cheesy bread or chocolate cake in your mouth. The scientists suggest the high-sugar and fat diet was actually impairing the ability of the brain to block food cravings. You need to silence that thought immediately.

You don’t know that skinny girl or the fit guy. Her situation might be genetic. Her metabolism might be working faster. I knew this skinny colleague of mine, eating Burger King everyday and she never gained a pound over the years. But I don’t know how her liver or cardiovascular system looks like now of course. Also that fit man might be exercising 2-3 hours a day. Are you? If your answer is no, then you need to forget this thought, as well.

4. I will eat those hot dogs now, I will eat healthy tomorrow and exercise

Well, what if you can’t? It is true that moderation and balancing things out is important. If you ate more than your daily calories today, it makes sense to fall below the next day to balance. So it is important that when you really say this, you actually mean it and do it the next day. If you are not sure, then, don’t trust your own word. Try not to go overboard.

5. I have already eaten a lot of bad food. Now there is no turning back.

Well, there is. Right at this very moment. Go back to healthier eating habits and you will be fine. Unfortunately, our psychology is weird in the sense that once we pass the treshold on something, we feel like we can’t stop. But it is all in our heads. You can stop doing anything, anytime you want. You need to take control of your brain, you shouldn’t run it on automatic and let it take control of you.

6. These people in movies are drinking alcohol and eating bar food all the time and they look fabulous.

In the movies, yes. Not in real life. Jennifer Anniston chugging down the beer in ‘Friends’ but in real life she exercises twice a day and she is on a secret diet. Show business is her job, she needs to stay healthy, this is what she is paid for. James Bond drinks his whisky daily, but he has the best body! Miracle, right? Winchester brothers in Supernatural literally feed on fast food and beer everyday in episodes. And yet their bodies have zero fat (I have attention to detail, that’s all). Magic! Well, not really guys… What I’m saying is, all American TV shows and movies are full of scenes with diners, bars, parties and fit guys and girls. In real life, if you eat like them, you won’t look like them. Your brain is tricking you by making an association between how they look and how they live. Even though you know that this is not real life.

 

After fighting these thoughts, your battle is still not over. In order not to gain the weight back, you need to have a plan. Most of the time people have an awesome diet plan and they do more or less a good job sticking to it. However, they forget to make a plan for afterwards, which is even more important. Your plan should include these elements:

  1. Daily calorie limit: Have a target and stay at that target. Here you can calculate the daily calorie intake you need: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html
  2. Nutrition balance: Make sure that you are getting enough protein, carbs and fat. Also make sure you are getting the vitamins and electrolites that your body needs.
  3. Emergency plan (travelling, moving, etc. change of routine): How are you going to eat healthy during this change period? Are there any restaurants that you can order from that serve relatively healthy food?
  4. Cheat meals: Which day of the week do you want to allow yourself to eat the cheat meal? What is it going to include?
  5. Exercise: 3-5 days of the week, what kind of exercises can you do?
  6. Be careful about offerings: I work at a school. Everyday students offer me food or snacks. Every staff meeting there are donuts and pizzas. It is already hard to say no to food, when it is free, it is almost impossible. Well, try your best to say no. Because you are gaining extra calories for a pleasure that will not last more than 5 minutes and it will cost you 30 minutes of running. It is like the question you ask to yourself when you are shopping on a short budget: “Do I really need this? or do I just want it?” If you can’t afford it, leave it.
  7. Do not confuse hunger with thirst: Do you sometimes feel hungry just a couple of hours after eating? It might be just that you are thirsty. Our brain confuses hunger with thirst sometimes. Drink a glass of water and see if that will get rid of the craving.
  8. When you go out, try to be reasonable: As a social person, it is my big problem that I found myself hanging out a lot. I tried to find ways to be more reasonable. For example, instead of 2 beers, I order 1 glass of red wine. Because I drink it more slowly. I usually drink 2 beers in 1 hour, it takes the same amount of time for me to finish 1 glass of wine. Less calories. If I ate bar food that night, I try chips or fries instead of full meal. And next day, I eat salad for lunch and soup for dinner, etc.

I’m going on a diet again on January 2nd. I know that once I’m done with it I will feel and look great. I want to keep that though, that’s why I will try to follow my own advice here. It is all about how we look at the food, how we approach feeding and how we fight with our brain’s reward system. We don’t have to deprive ourselves from everything, or starve ourselves, diet shouldn’t mean suffering. But we need to learn moderation and how to take control of our eating habits. I will keep you updated on my adventure!

Hoscakalin,

-Ece

 

Posted in the USA

Why do I LOVE Boston?

I have lived in three cities in the United States: Lawrence (Kansas), Chicago (Illinois) and Boston (Massachusetts) and although I had really good memories in each one of them, I ‘fell in love with’ only Boston.

Chicago is a great city with its infamously delicious food and fun jazz and blues bars. Lawrence is one of the best college towns to live in the US: Cheap, international, and very unKansasly liberal.

But Boston… With its historical composition, its college town feeling -despite the fact that the city is also a business center, its beaches and gardens among the brick houses (instead of high rises) and its young profile make Boston unique for me.

In this post, I will share my reasons with you and in the end you get to decide if I’m right or wrong. But before all that I want to remind you about Boston’s history, since it plays a critical role in the United States history.

The history of Boston plays a central role in American history. In 1630, Puritan colonists from England founded Boston and helped it become the way it is today. Boston quickly became the political, commercial, financial, religious and educational center of the New England region. The American Revolution erupted in Boston, as the British retaliated harshly for the Boston Tea Party and the patriots fought back. They besieged the British in the city, with a famous battle at Bunker Hill in Charlestown on June 17, 1775 (which was lost by the colonists, but inflicted great damage against the British) and won the Siege of Boston, forcing the British to evacuate the city on March 17, 1776. However, the combination of American and British blockades of the town and port during the conflict seriously damaged the economy, and the population fell by two thirds in the 1770s. The Irish Catholics, typified by the Kennedy Family, took political control of the city by 1900.

This is why you can still see a lot of Irish bars and Irish heritage all around Boston. Now that we know about the history, I can start writing about the greatness of this fabulous city!

#1. A Nature Loving City

In Boston, there are some tall buildings, some concrete going on, as in almost every big city. However, you can always escape to a green area to read your book, to breathe in the fresh air, or to have a quick run. Located in the heart of the city, Public Garden is beautiful all year around:

In Public Garden,you can take swan boat rides or you can do a picnic. There are always street musicians or performers to amuse you during the day. Street food (especially Arepas and pretzels) is something you will definitely come across.

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is an arboretum located in the Jamaica Plain and Roslindale sections of Boston, Massachusetts and it is my second favorite natural place in Boston. You can see hundreds of different tree and bird species.

There is also Charles River Esplanade which is another place to escape the busy city life and enjoy the beautiful nature.

#2. Beautiful Architecture 

Boston is famous for its brick buildings and its city planning is breathtaking. Just walking around the buildings gives a weird sense of peacefulness to me. In Chicago, the architecture was great as well but I think it was making the gap between the rich and poor too obvious for me. However, in Boston, I can’t easily see that distinction by just looking at the architecture. It makes Boston look like a modest city.

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Copley Plaza

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#3 Lots of Things to Do in Boston

One of the best things about this city is that it is small enough to walk everywhere, but it is big enough that there is ALWAYS something to do. There are so many coffee shops (My favorites are Thinking cup and Cafe Nero). Also, they have the best homemade hot chocolate in the country! Indian, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Turkish and many more cuisines can be found at different restaurants everywhere. There are bowling alleys, improv shows, concerts, festivals, there is ‘The Boston Marathon’, there are canoe and boat rides on Charles River, there is the New England Aquarium that everybody should see. In summer, there are whale watching activities.  Boston Red Sox is one of the best baseball teams in the World. You can watch them at Fenway Park! Although it is usually too cold to swim, you can enjoy the sun at the beaches of Boston during summer.

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Cafe Nero at Brookline

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Cafe Crema

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LA Burdick has the best hot chocolate!!

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Capital One Cafe (And a bank!?)

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There are many good Irish Bars or other restaurant/bars in every corner. Especially in Downtown Crossing, Back Bay, South End and North End.

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McGreevys Irish Bar

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Wink and Nod Bar and Grille

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Faneuil Hall area is full of bars, restaurants and stores

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Boylston street is full of different kinds of restaurants and bars with outside seating

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North End (AKA Italian Neighborhood) is famous for its Italian restaurants and bakeries.

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North End Fine Dining

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Union Oyster House is one of the famous Irish bars. You should try their Clam Chowder!

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A beer garden in Boston

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Coogans is in downtown and it is famous for its cheap beer options.

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El Centro Mexican restaurant

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El Centro Mexican restaurant

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Hyatt Regency Boston harbor

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Kinsale Irish Bar

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A North end Bakery

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Atlantic Fish Co – Great Sea Food Restaurant at Copley

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Another good Italian restaurant

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Lookout Roof Top and Bar

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New England Aquarium, Boston

#4 Boston is a city of Knowledge and Art

As a person who LOVES reading books and who is always thirsty for knowledge, I feel so lucky to be in Boston. Being home to Ivy league universities such as Harvard, MIT, Northeastern and BU, Boston has a lot of students, which explains the high number  of museums and the bookstores in the city.

Boston Public library is open to everybody. You don’t have to go get a library card to study, but if you want to borrow books, of course you need one. The library has two sections: the historical one and the modern (Boston Library Central) part.

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Boston Public Library

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Boston Public Library Central

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Boston Public Library Central

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Boston Public Library Central

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Boston Public Library Central

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Boston Public Library Central

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Boston Public Library

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Boston Public Library Backyard

There is a huge bookstore at Harvard square called ‘Harvard Book Store’ in which the atmosphere reminds me of Hogwarts in Harry Potter series for some reason. It has a large selection of books, besides a mini cafe inside. Additionally, there are many other bookstores in the city selling both brand new and used books. But my favorite one is the one near my work in Downtown Crossing: ‘Brattle Bookshop’.

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Harvard Book Store

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Harvard University Campus id open to visitors all year around.

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Brattle Bookshop, where you can buy used books for as low as $3 or $5.

As I mentioned before, there are several good museums in Boston. The best thing is, most museums have free admissions after 5:00 PM! So after work or after school you can still enjoy a visit to a wonderful museum…For FREE!

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Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

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Isabella Steward Gardner Museum

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Isabella Steward Gardner Museum

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Museum of fine Arts, Boston

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Museum of fine Arts, Boston

#5 Boston Has a Young, Dynamic, Smart and Multicultural Profile

When I used to live in Chicago, one thing I realized was how segregated it felt. Downtown was mostly white collar white Americans, Southern Chicago and Uptown was black, Chinese lived in Chinatown, North had a Muslim neighborhood and around Kimball, there was the Hispanic neighborhood. Although there is a Chinatown here and Chelsea, in Boston is predominantly Hispanic, I can say that due to its college-town identity, it looks well-blended.

The other day I was walking down from Brookline to Allston. Brookline is mostly Jewish. I left the Greek Cafe ‘Athan’s Bakery’ (They had great desserts there). On the way, I over heard a Russian mom speaking on the phone and walking her baby, three Korean college students were walking pass by me. Later, I heard some English (not surprising, is it? :P) Then, this Turkish couple just walked into a nearby Starbucks. After that I stopped by at the Liquor store to get beer and paid to the Indian store owner. when I talk about being multicultural, do you see what I mean?

Because everybody is either a student, or a teacher, or admin, or businessman/businesswoman , you can feel the above average IQ in the air.

Of course while talking about good Boston people, I will include a picture of my colleagues. I think we fit the Boston profile well:)

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Of course there are some things that I don’t like about Boston. Two things to be exact: The housing prices and the cold, long, snowy winters. The housing prices are outrageous. The rent for a studio apartment (NOT in downtown but 20-40 min train ride away) starts from $1400, one bedroom starts at $1700. If you want to live in downtown, it gets even more expensive. If you want to rent just a room it starts from $900 per room. These are ridiculous prices  because Boston is small and can accommodate only certain amount of people.

As far as the cold, long, snowy winter is concerned, after Chicago, I can’t complain 😀  I find Chicago winters even more brutal and I survived 3 of them. It is easier for me to handle Boston. But some people hate the weather and leave, I respect that.

Hope you enjoy this read and you find it helpful! Write a comment below if you have any questions or share it if you like it!

Cheers!

-Ece