It’s been a year. Whoa. I cannot believe I managed to make it this far. Not because the keto lifestyle is hard or I’m hungry or whatever, but because I have tried and failed so many times and so many ways just to get healthy.
The Starting Point
Let’s talk about where I was when I was finally willing to give Keto a try. I had just returned to work after a summer vacation of trying to lose weight with traditional diet and exercise, I had been taking the metformin prescribed by my dr to help me control the insulin resistance, PCOS and prediabetes, I had zero hope of getting pregnant, I was wearing dresses that were very forgiving if I gained or list (but you know I was gaining), my anxiety was okay so I was able to get off of my lexapro (until I went back to work, it got crazy and I had to go back on nearly immediately), I kept swelling and turning red with achy joints and didn’t know why (adrenals were shot and I didn’t know it), I wasn’t sleeping very well, I had regular and daily headaches due to stress, sinuses and who knows what else along with migraines that were pretty frequent, regular chronic sinus infections which meant a lot of antibiotics regardless of what I did to try to keep it at bay, regular-ish cycles which really weren’t that regular but I did have them (thank you PCOS), nails that split and broke and peeled which caused concern about the bones I couldn’t see and their health, I was always hungry, had IBS and chronic, daily diarrhea (those pool signs were a joke because I never had diarrhea from being contagiously ill, just from everything else in my life), exhaustion and sometimes I had a hard time focusing and thinking straight…I actually could go on. But I think you can see here that I was a hot mess!
At that point, 1 year ago, I was 37 years old with no idea how to fix myself. I knew I was killing myself and had often in recent years simply given up on how to be healthy because everything I did failed so miserably. If I managed to lose anything, I would gain it back immediately. I spent a lot of time and money trying new diets, old diets, cleanses, supplements, etc. I could not figure out what my body needed to even survive. At 37 I found myself ready to begin desperate measures…surgery. I actually researched various surgeries. I had even gone to the classes my insurance company provided to help me learn more about health, lose weight, use their dietary supplements and food replacements (that aren’t actual food), but mostly I went to be held accountable and still failed miserably.
The beginning of Keto was actually early Summer 2017. My coworkers and I had a weight loss challenge for the summer. We all put in money, I think like $40-50 and the winner got to keep the entire pot. This was really what I needed. Accountability and support. I lost 17 pounds that summer from recommended diet and exercise. And then when I got off my anxiety medication I gained 16. So, all that work and I lost 1 beautiful pound. I was not happy, to say the least. I worked really hard. But, in the end at least I tried and I was also off my meds (lexapro, not metformin). Then we returned from vacation and we all did our weigh in. I didn’t think I had won because I only lost 1 pound, but I didn’t think my coworker, Hannah, would just kill it either! She was already pretty small but wanted to lose a little of what she called “baby weight.” She looked like a different person and lost something like 35 pounds doing Keto. HOLY CRAP!!!
Yes, you read that correctly, my friend lost a ton of weight that I didn’t even know she had to lose, won about $700 cash and felt great. She’d been trying to tell me a little about Keto and what she was doing here and there, but I honestly just thought it was bonkers. No seriously, how do you lose weight eating fat? And how in the world and I going to give up all sugar, grains and most fruit and the starchy veggies that I loved the most? I figured, based on my past experiences that she must have been starving herself, eating foods that tasted terrible and really damaging her health just to lose a few pounds.
I was wrong!
Naturally, I was ready to hear more about Keto and what Hannah had done to lose the weight. I think I asked her a million questions, many repeated questions, etc. Honestly, how could she lose weight like that? It really seemed impossible given my experiences, comparing Keto to the Standard American Diet (SAD) and the FDA’s recommendations that I’ve been told my entire life. But…Keto does sound like something I should try before I go under the knife and permanently change my body out of desperation.
Yes, I tried Keto out of desperation. All else failed. So, I gave it a go.
There are few things you should know about me, in case you don’t already…
- I grew up being taught to question everything (Thanks dad)
- I grew up taking supplements (Thanks mom and dad)
- I grew up and never knew why I was so sick…we were doing what we thought was right and my body didn’t respond like it was supposed to
- I often have what can be considered weird ideas and beliefs because it can go against popular ideas and experiences, but eventually got tired and sometimes just went along with the “program”…I’m more of a think outside of the box kind of person
- I knew I could heal my body but didn’t know how
- As I got older, I saw more and more people, especially women, having similar issues as myself…I was no longer that uncommon, but it seemed that no one had the answer
- At church, they did the Daniel Plan…I was curious but not interested in another failure at the time, so I passed. From what I gather, you eat foods that God made, so no processed, store bought foods. Is that right? ( I honestly don’t know, sorry.)
- The medications were making me sicker but I also needed them
- I needed a miracle.
So, along comes Keto. Did I already know that Low-Carb was good for me? Yes. Did I like it? No. Did it work when I did Atkin’s a long time ago? Yes, until I stopped…but I was always hungry, the food wasn’t that great and I really wasn’t cooking that much, so I probably wasn’t really doing Atkin’s as it should be done with real food. Low carb has a ring of truth for me.
Moderate protein? Well, I like protein and have never had an issue with it. I guess I could try. At least keep track and see where I’m at. I wasn’t sure if I was getting enough or too much. But, could you have too much protein? I didn’t think so back then.
High fat? Now you’ve lost your dang mind! Now this is where I struggled the most. Does it taste good? YES. Did I already know that going in? YES. But every bone in my body and cell in my brain was trained to think fat was bad, very bad. VERY BAD. Eating fat makes you fat. Obviously. Except it doesn’t.
To be honest, the biggest struggle I had doing Keto wasn’t giving up the carbs, which was hard because I was totally addicted to carbs of all kinds, especially sugar and flour). My biggest struggle was mentally dealing with the fact that I could, and should, eat fat. I should enjoy it. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Fat helps your body operate appropriately and is the best fuel source for your body. Carbs make you fat.
I used to feel so guilty when I ate things like a whole avocado, bacon, butter, the fat from a delicious steak, etc. Oh my goodness. I really struggled with this. I wanted to limit this so badly. But when you do, you get hungry and mean and tired and crabby and hungry. Did I repeat myself?
When an idea or information is so ingrained into who you are (and it’s a popular viewpoint), it is a true challenge to go against it. Taking time to think about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and why you’re doing it is a key to success here with Keto. You can be successful if someone just tells you what to do and you blindly follow it, but it’s better if you are making these decisions for yourself.
D-Day of Keto:
Once I decided to give Keto a try I made a plan. Cold turkey? NOPE. That doesn’t work for me. Besides, going low carb in the past has given me headaches (I know, I already had headaches, right? I told you I was a mess.)
The plan was to reduce carbs as much as I could as I tried to learn more and prepare for Keto. At this point I really didn’t know much except I needed to look into macros and start tracking. I got an app on my phone and began the logging. I had no idea how many carbs were in food I thought was healthy! It was a big shock. One day I stopped at Del Taco on my way to work and got a cup of beans and cheese. It’s delicious, I’m not going to lie to you. I loved beans and always thought they were healthy for me. I got to the parking lot at work and logged my meal into the app…and then I discovered this tiny cup was literally 18 grams of carbohydrates. I blew my entire day practically doing what I thought was the right thing. BTW, that was the day that I learned legumes are not keto-friendly.
After 2 weeks of lowering my carbs and keeping track I realized I didn’t eat carbs that day. That was my first day of Keto. September 1, 2017. I was jumping for joy that day when I realized what I hadn’t done. I was telling my husband, who I didn’t really think would consider Keto, and he was somewhat interested. Then I went to bed and woke up the next morning to find that my husband was up all night watching YouTube videos about Keto and doing research. The first thing he said to me was that he’s going to do Keto to! What?!? I didn’t expect him to do this with me and was happy to have coworkers to have support…but what a huge blessing this has been on our whole family.
Even after the official start of Keto, I continued to learn a lot and make changes. I would do something I thought was healthy and later realize it probably wasn’t the best idea, so then I would make modifications. It’s important to forgive yourself because you won’t be perfect and that’s okay. You’re relearning how to be healthy and it is not always obvious. Be kind to yourself!
I have some serious improvements. I am not done healing. Some changes are obvious and some are not so obvious.
I followed Keto for a year with just modifying my intake and not exercising. Every time I exercise I have serious inflammation issues, though it is getting much better and recovery is faster than it was before Keto. So, basically I changed my diet but not my exercise. The only thing I’ve changed in regards to exercising is that I have more energy and feel like moving more, so I walk more and feel more like doing fun, active activities than I did before.
To date, I have lost about 65-70 pounds, am no longer taking metformin, have regular cycles, have longer breaks between needing antibiotics for my sinus infections, have improved adrenals with a quicker recovery to inflammation, have regular BMs daily and diarrhea is rare, have improved mental health which include trying again to get off of my anxiety medication (don’t worry, I have dr support and I’m weening very slowly) and fewer panic attacks, stronger nails and hair that grow so fast it borders on annoying, I can think more clearly. The list goes on. My blood work is amazing. My blood pressure is perfect now. I have hope of having a child of my own with my husband now. Real hope. While I’ve plateaud for the past 7-8 months, I have still lost inches and am still healing my body internally. I went from a size 26 (I’m not totally sure, I was buying 24 and squeezing myself into extra forgiving dresses and leggings with baggy shirts with lots of stretch) to now I wear a size 20 (for real). The hump on the lower neck, upper back area is significantly smaller.
I feel free. I feel like I have been healing and am confident that I can easily continue healing. I feel really good.
I went to a party yesterday with family and friends, many of whom I don’t see often. I got a lot of great compliments, even from people who saw me after my initial big weight drop…so it made me feel good that the weight plateau didn’t mean I wasn’t improving. Whew!
I intended on taking updated pictures in the same outfit as a year ago. I apologize for it not being ready, but I will do my best to get to it. Life is crazy and I have a gnarly sinus infection at the moment…one day I will just have a busy life and no illness (I hope anyway!) I’ll work on the before and after pictures. I definitely want to share them, but I think I need to see them. I often look in the mirror and just see me, not the slightly smaller me.
I need to tighten up my eating. I haven’t been keeping track of my macros and I’m curious to see how far off I’ve been. I suspect I generally am lower than 50 grams of carbs but need to lower it back closer to 20 grams. I’ll begin journalling and keeping track of my consumption in my app again very soon…probably after I finish this blog posting. I’ve also been eating dirty and would like to focus on being more strict more often.
In addition to the consumption, I have begun including exercise into my health improvement plan. My choices are swimming, going to the gym and walking on the treadmill or elliptical (though, the elliptical still kind of intimidates me), going for a walk outsides, riding my bike, and playing a game…like tennis or basketball. I plan to do this 2 days a week for a while and then boost to a minimum of 3 days per week. I think the fact that I’ve been moving my body more has helped. But adding actual exercise for at least 30 minutes 2-3 times a week should help and I expect to see some improvements.
I’m still focusing on improving my adrenal glands and keeping my blood sugar stable while also preparing for pregnancy. I kind of feel like I’m still a bit unhealthy to be able to get and maintain a pregnancy, but I’m not sure I’m too far off. I’m going to try now and see how it goes. After all, I’m not getting any younger and will eventually run out of eggs to even try to cook.
Keto isn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. The struggles, after you get beyond the adaption phase, are really mentally accepting what is okay and how it conflicts with what you’ve always been taught and “known” to be true.
I’m happy. I’m successful. I could do this forever, and actually plan to do this forever. It’s working and it’s not hard. I’m not hungry. I’m actually getting healthy. I’m getting healthier every single day and it isn’t hard. I’m able to get off my medications that hurt my body while trying to help it.
If you’d like more information about Keto, check out my blog about Keto Basics and Getting Started. For a Keto support group, check out BeckDoes Keto…And, So Can You! on Facebook. And, if you’re looking to watch some of my videos, though there aren’t many right now, check out BeckDoes Keto on YouTube.
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Keto is a good thing for me. I hope that you find what you’re looking for to help your health. It’s worth giving Keto a try, if you haven’t already.