I seem to be into one word titles nowadays. It’s because one word contains sometimes so much more meaning than a full sentence, and because it can convey a large display of emotions. Falling, for example, can be a negative word. If you fall in the street, or from a flight of stairs, you get injured, and it’s no good. But if you are falling from the sky with a parachute, you actually almost fly. Falling can be freeing. Like letting go. Or like falling off, when speaking of weight, or when a scab comes off of your skin and it regenerates.

This morning, things were literally falling from my hands. I dropped the omelet I was making for breakfast when transferring it to my plate. I dropped the fennel I was weighting when picking it up from the kitchen scale. I think I dropped one or two spoons, too. And it made me laugh. Because I thought: usually, when things like this happen, I get angry and try to find an explanation for my clumsiness, thinking either I haven’t slept enough, or it is the lack of carbs in my body that leaves me with no energy to concentrate, or that I am just dangerously clumsy and need to work on that. And then I thought that it was funny, because no matter how many things fall or get dropped, I always pick it up and go on. It’s like a wise man once said: you are not determined by the mistakes you make, but only by the way you deal with them and grow from that experience. There is something similar in one of Adele’s songs: “mistakes and regrets are just memories made”. They are, and while I’m currently on the second go-round of the low-carb diet, this has become my mantra.

A little less than three years ago, I had made some mistakes. Some were little, almost insignificant, like not including enough variety in my meals and getting bored. This I’m fixing now by cooking simple yet satisfying recipes, like the one I’ll share a bit later. But I’ve made one or two big mistakes as well. The first one was not believing enough in the long term success of this lifestyle and sabotaging it psychologically in every way I could: even though, like I have previously stated, this was “the best time of my life” regarding my well-being and body image, I kept blaming the low-carb diet and Atkins for every little thing that went wrong with me. When I caught a cold because I went running in a cold morning with not enough clothes on, I blamed it on the lack of carbs. When I got a skin rash from stress and anxiety (I was, at that time, beginning my first year of PhD), I blamed it on the lack of carbs. Even when I got stung by some kind of insect while in the country and without any antibiotics on hand, I thought it was my body telling me I needed carbs. So I became insufferable. I blamed carbs for everything, and tried to convert everyone to my faith by firmly believed that carbs were evil, even though I myself kept blaming the diet for the little things that went wrong. So one day, I got enough, and indulged. I indulged so much, in fact, that I spent almost a whole week eating almost exclusively pasta, from breakfast to dinner. Evidently, I had big body image issues, and a slight eating disorder, and couldn’t bear trusting myself enough to stick with a plan that made me look radient and skinny.

The second mistake is actually the biggest one, and yet the most predictable. I pushed myself too hard. This is a tricky one. Because on most days, before I decided to go on the diet again, I found it very problematic to find a balance between getting some rest because I actually pushed myself too hard (at the gym, or at work) and just plainly flunking because I used the argument as an excuse. You have always to be accountable for yourself and your actions, but it is the hardest thing to do. On the first go round, the reason it blew in my face wasn’t because I was eating right and exercising intensely, but because I couldn’t get away from the “all or nothing” approach. If I woke up at five am every day for several days in a row, then went for a run and stuck to the meal plan, I felt that if I woke up at 8 or 9 am (or even later) on the weekend, I had failed. If I exercised for a whole week and then found myself too lazy or too tired to exercise for seven days straight the next week, I felt like I failed and there wasn’t any point in going on. If I caught a cold, I felt like I failed, because, let’s face it, I am supposed to be healthy now, so if I get sick, it means I have failed…

And even though I knew all the tricks (I knew I had to relax more, and stop being driven only by high expectations the nasty evil me had), I couldn’t be patient enough to learn from my mistakes and kept trying new things to attain some “perfect” goal. The key is and always will be consistency. But yet again, it’s not an easy thing to do. Consistency doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to follow a hard regimen beginning next Monday and that you’ll stick with until the end of your life. Consistency means, for me at least, being able to listen to myself most of the time and knowing when to downsize your efforts, and when to push harder. Consistency is not a behavior, it is  a state of mind. It is knowing that hard work and practice will get you to your goal, but it won’t happen overnight. It also means that you have to actually get rid of the “goal” thinking, at least for a while. Because when you finally attain it, through very hard work, you usually don’t know what to do next and how to live with it. So you have to try and enjoy the process. Enjoy cooking and eating good food without obsessing. Enjoying going to the gym because it feels good and yes, because you see yourself getting fitter every week. Enjoying even the little failures, like dropping your fennel on the kitchen floor, because, well, a skinny and beautiful body doesn’t come with a new personality.

I found that praising yourself and implementing small changes along the way works wonders. You got up at five and trained for an hour before making your egg-white omelet? Great! You woke up at five thirty and it took you half an hour to actually feel ready to exercise, and you only did 20 minutes of a workout instead of the whole hour and then you ate two extra pieces of cheese with your coffee? Great as well! I have always been passionate. Passion is good, but passion is also irregular. It means if I have to hand out twenty written pages of my thesis in two weeks time, I will most certainly get to it the night before because I “love” the adrenaline rush. And when I force myself to work regularly, I get bored, because I can’t bear with the thought that from now on, I will have to do the same thing everyday. So I take a moment to relax and think, and instead of asking myself the question “what will others expect from me”, I ask myself this: “what can I do to feel good?” And so I get to work, because when I do it, I will feel all right all right all right.

And it doesn’t matter if you don’t get up at the same hour every morning. It if suits you. No matter what sleep studies show. If, on the other hand, you find that this way, you’ll have more time for yourself, and you’ll feel so much better afterwards, then go for it. The skinny you that will emerge after you’re done with your exercise program or after your diet will still be there, it will still be a living, breathing, loving, mistake making, hesitating, sometimes angry and sometimes blissful human being, and not a cardboard model.

I think I’ve rambled enough, so there’s the recipe:

Fougasse style leek and olive gratin. Low-carb and Gluten-free.

Fougasse is a french type of bread, made with either olives, or bacon, or cheese mainly in the south of France.

Here is a low-carb variation that tastes like the real thing.


What you’ll need for 8 servings at 2.43 gr of NC:

– 6 eggs

– a pinch of salt

– a handful of olives (about 10)

– 3 oz emmental cheese (or any other kind of hard cheese. If you eat rennet, try with parmesan)

– 3 big tablespoons of ground flax seeds.

– half a cup of sliced leek

– olive oil for the pan.


What to do with all this:

– preheat your oven at 350 F° (or 180 C°)

– slice the olives and the leek

– grate the cheese

– beat the eggs, add a pinch of salt, and incorporate the sliced olives, the leek and the cheese.

– beat well and add the ground flax seeds.

– pour the mixture in a baking dish smeared with olive oil so it doesn’t stick.

– let bake for 25 minutes or so, until the crust is golden brown.

Et voilà!





Yeah, I couldn’t resist and ate a piece already 🙂


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