Like many people, I have struggled with my weight since my late teens. Aggravated by medical conditions beyond my control…or so I thought…I had tried to surrender to the fact that I was just meant to struggle with my weight or simply be overweight…but I couldn’t. I knew there was an answer and I was determined to find it and determined to become the healthy, energetic person that was hiding inside this sick body. I was told long ago due to PCOS, I was insulin resistant…or is it I have PCOS due to insulin resistance?? Now days it depends on who you talk to! I was also diagnosed at 19 with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH)…this is also aggravated by excess weight. Needless to say, over the past 20 years I have read about and dabbled with many types of diets Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, The Plan, Vegetarian, Vegan, Paleo, Wheat Belly, Blood Type…and the list goes on. For years I tried to figure out what worked best for me….what I felt the best doing. It’s so frustrating when you are doing everything right but it just doesn’t seem to be working…or its making things worse! Through it all my favorite way of eating was a low carb diet, like Atkins without the shakes and bars. It was simple, enjoyable, and it worked. My first introduction to a low carb lifestyle was in high school due to Mom #2 being able to lose quite a bit of weight going low carb Atkins style…so I had seen the results. Unfortunately when I was watching my mom do it I didn’t understand why it was working…I knew she was eliminating certain foods but I didn’t know the science. It wasn’t until years later that I began to understand the health benefits of low carb beyond weightloss and the different variations of low carb lifestyles.
For years, a low carb lifestyle worked for me but over the years of doctors recommending this or that way of eating, pregnancies, illnesses and more, I found myself not only again struggling with my weight, but with my health. I have learned a lot through my quest for a healthy way of eating. I learned the importance of doing your research, reading ingredients, and trusting your instincts and common sense. Twenty years later…I have found my answer.
We’ve been duped…
The truth is we have been duped for the past 50+ years into believing that cereal is health food and that fat is the devil…and that’s not even the beginning of the lies we have been told. We believed the government had our best interests in mind when they made dietary recommendations and told us to eat all that grain per day. We trusted the FDA when they said (and still say ) high fructose corn syrup is a safe food ingredient. For years I was so confused about food…what is good and what is bad? It seems food opinions change like the wind. One day eggs were to be avoided because there high in cholesterol and the next week there’s a study out claiming all the benefits. No wonder we are all so confused and so many of us are sick. But the thing is….in the midst of all the confusions and lies…most of us know what healthy food is. Think about it…strip away all of the crap. It doesn’t come from a box, it’s not full of chemicals you can’t pronounce, and it’s not made in giant factories. If it wasn’t around to eat 150 or more years ago, then you probably shouldn’t eat it. Eat real food….Period.
My Breaking Point…
The past year has been pretty stressful and crazy. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in April 2017, and a few months later the Cowboy and I made the huge decision to quite our jobs and enter into a new business venture which required us to sell our house and move across the state, I started homeschooling the girls…it was super exciting but so damn scary at the same time. After we unpacked and settled a bit, I found myself out of shape, overweight, unhealthy….and absolutely determined to change it….once and for all. I mean we had just changed up every other aspect of our lives so why stop there? It was the perfect time to make a permanent change…to improve my health. I was so tired of feeling sick and run down. I was exhausted, moody, swollen, achy, my PCOS symptoms were flaring up and I was scared to death that I was taunting my IIH to come out of remission.
Since my diagnosis of Celiac Disease, I hadn’t really had time to begin to heal my gut. I was eating gluten free but still eating pasta, donuts, chips, candy…all gluten free but obviously not great choices and full of sugar….I knew I could do better and how but I was eating in response to stress and for comfort…I was literally a mess. I was on a mission to start listening to my body and to heal myself with my food. I wanted to be an example for the rest of my family and my girls. I wanted my girls to see how important it is to take care of themselves and show them that they hold the key to changing themselves for the better. I needed to show them they are worth the effort…by showing myself I am.
Back to Low Carb…but wait!
In mid- October of 2017, at 210 pounds I started strict low carb for the last time. I was dedicated and determined and knew that I was going to make a permanent lifestyle change. I ate tons of greens and veggies, wild game and dairy…I never once ate something I shouldn’t, but something wasn’t right. I was still exhausted, I was hungry all the time and was battling the same few pounds week after week! I found myself constantly grazing the pantry, thinking about what I was going to eat at my next meal and I still had a craving for sweets. I was baking low carb cookies, muffins, and cakes but I quickly learned that I was unable to control myself even around sugar free items. The sugar substitutes just made me want more sweets…and I really think I had an addiction to almond buter…LOL! I was able to lose a few pounds, but I knew this was mostly water weight. I needed to change something but I wasn’t sure what. The tried and true low carb way of eating…my old go-to…just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. But why? I started to read everything I could about types of low carb diets, protein, fat, carbs and doing research about LCHF and insulin, inflammation, gut health and hormones. This is when I found information about the ketogenic lifestyle and I finally figured out where I was going wrong. I knew this was it…..
What is Keto or the Ketogenic lifestyle?
Here is the gist of it…Keto or Ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein and very low carb diet or way of eating that essentially turns your body into an efficient fat burning machine. Typically, about 70-85% of calories from a Ketogenic diet comes from fat and carbs are kept under 20 grams per day. This way of eating forces the body to burn fats for fuel rather than carbohydrates. Ketones are produced by your liver when you eat very few carbohydrates so when your body is in Ketosis you are using Ketones for fuel instead of glucose. Within the realm of Keto diets, there are a few variations, but strict Keto followers stay under 20 total carbs a day and watch ingredients closely for things that may provoke an insulin response. Insulin is the hormone that tells our cells to pick up glucose from the blood stream after a meal but also it tells our cells to store fat.
It goes like this…we eat and as our blood sugar rises, insulin is released and tells our cells to pick up the glucose from our bloodstream and transfer it to other tissues to use as energy or store excess as glycogen for later on. Well your body can only store so much glycogen. So once these glycogen stores in your liver and other areas are full and your body eventually will continue to store the excess glucose as body fat. When your body is using glucose for fuel, fats are not needed for energy and are stored. See, the whole point of the Ketogenic Diet is to keep your insulin levels as low as possible throughout the day, so you avoid the glucose dumps and as little insulin as possible is released in response to a meal. Basically, in the absence of carbohydrates (or at least very low carb intake) your entire body switches over its fuel supply from running on glucose to running on fat. Consequently, your insulin and glucose levels become low and you are able to access and burn those hard to access fat stores.
When enjoying the Ketogenic way of eating, you eat real food… meats, veggies, full fat dairy, healthy fats, nuts and even some berries on occasion. All delicious, satisfying foods!! I mean did you ever imagine you could loose weight and regain your health by eating things like steak, eggs, butter, bacon, cheese? Now I know that 70-85% fat sounds like a lot but these are healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, butter, lard, coconut oil, nuts, seeds etc. This also includes fats in the meats you eat like bacon, steak etc. These fats help keep you satiated and satisfied!
The benefits of a Ketogenic way of living are many!! Weight loss, appetite control, increase energy and mental clarity, better control of blood sugar and possible reversal of type 2 diabetes and PCOS, improved cholesterol and triglycerides, less bloating or tummy troubles and the list goes on and on!
So did it work?
I started right away tweaking my diet to become more Ketogenic like…or so I thought…more fat and less protein. My problem was I was just trying to wing it. I hadn’t figured out my “macros”, I wasn’t tracking, I wasn’t watching ingredients very closely. I was trying to estimate my protein and fat and honestly, I wasn’t very good at it… 4oz of ground beef is a lot less than you may think it is! I was losing weight slowly (which is fine with me) and feeling better but I had to go all in…100%tracking, measuring, watching ingredients…the whole thing. I couldn’t make small changes in what I was doing if I really didn’t know exactly what I was doing! I figured out my Macros, I started tracking everything I ate, I even weighed and measured my food to make sure I had the right information…it took me a few weeks to get it all down pact but by January 2018 I was 100% Keto… six months later I have never felt better.
I no longer track every day…often because I eat the same foods during the week. In the past 5 months, I have lost 40+ pounds. I have never strayed off plan and have never wanted to. Have I had to make adjustments? YES! I have learned that one size does not fit all…but we all know that don’t we?? I’ve had to tweak and change my macros and cut out a few things to find the perfect fit for me. I can honestly say that I will never go back to eating the standard American diet and I truly enjoy the food I eat. I have no cravings, no bloating, no swelling…and most importantly I don’t feel deprived. My PCOS symptoms have all but disappeared My gut is healing from years of abuse. I have discovered a new way of cooking and eating that makes me feel like the best version of me. I finally feel great in my own skin.
Do I have more to go? Yes…but I know I have found a lifestyle that is healthy and works for me. Better yet my 12-year-old daughter has joined me on this journey and we have a blast coming up with new keto/ low carb recipes. She looks amazing and even more important she has gained confidence and is empowered by this way of eating. I live that she is learning about foods and how they impact her health. That is powerful stuff and will serve her well in the furture. She makes me so proud! More about her journey coming soon!
Should you try keto?
I truly believe that the Ketogenic lifestyle is the healthiest lifestyle I can live and that the majority of people should eat this way to simply escape the sugar laden franken-foods that line our grocery store shelves. I know that a diet of fresh veggies, meats and healthy fats, void of chemical and processed crap is and always will be the way to go. There are several conditions that the Ketogenic way of eating can help improve. If you are overweight, if you suffer from diabetes, PCOS, insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, fatty liver, eczema, depression/anxiety, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, IBS, Crohn’s, GERD, migraines, Parkinsons, Epilepsy, cancer, MS, Acne, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain or inflammation, Fibromyalgia, etc, or if you just want to improve your general health… I highly suggest you look into the Ketogenic Lifestyle.
Looking for Keto Resources?
There are a ton of Keto resources but use caution and common sense. Just because a recipe states it is Keto or low carb…be sure to look carefully at the ingredient to ensure it actually is! I have seem plenty of recipes with honey, sugar, coconut sugar, agave nectar…these are not keto! Here are a few of my favorite books and resource for all things Keto. Maddie and I will also be working on creating some Keto resources like shopping lists snack guides, meal plans, kid lunch box ideas, and more recipes so stay tuned!! If you need help or advise…just ask! I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction. I’ve done a ton of research and learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, stalls or why you may be stuck, ingredients, you name it! I’d love to be a part of your journey!