Problem: You are carrying around excess weight, and you have an inappropriate love for carbs. Also, your mood and energy is a roller coaster.
Solution: Read the book “Why we get fat…” By Gary Taubes.
Full Story: (Warning, this is really long, but I didn’t want to serialize it.)
Most of my family of origin is significantly overweight, yet I was skinny until I was about 11 years old, then I broke my foot one summer and the weight piled on. For years I struggled with my weight, then during a college course (in my thirties!) on Health and Fitness, I managed to lose 90 pounds. That was incredibly short lived, however. The steps that took the weight off quickly stopped working, and despite all my efforts, the weight piled back on. It also didn’t help that I broke my toe, derailing my half-marathon training.
Fast forward almost a decade. I was at my heaviest (315.6), suffering from many, many health problems (fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, etc, etc), when my sleep apnea doctor recommended I try Keto (the Ketogenic Diet). I looked into it, and it looked gross, so I passed. Almost a year later, another doctor, simply recommended I read the book “Why we get fat…and what you can do about it.” I bought the book on Audible and listened to it straight through in one day. Then I re-listened to it. And again. This was around March 20th, 2018. By March 24th, I had given up sugar, flour, rice, and potatoes. I was still drinking some shakes high in fructose, as well as Diet Colas. By April 1st, 2018 I had weaned myself off those and was full-on trying Keto.
Now, I get that Keto isn’t for everyone, and yes it’s gross at times, especially for a former vegetarian. I don’t eat beef, so that’s even harder for me at times. The book changed my mindset entirely though. I concentrated on lots of leafy green veggies, chicken breast, turkey, some pork (though not much), and a couple higher carb veggies like cauliflower and zucchini.
Over the course of the next several months, I consistently lost 2 pounds a week. The only exercise was mostly daily 15 minutes of yoga (more for the fibro pain than anything else), and the far-too-occasional dog walk.
Yes, I went through keto flu. Here’s what it looked like for me:
- Terrible insomnia for about a week.
- Terrible indigestion around 2-3am every night for about four or five days.
- Terrible exhaustion (probably more from the insomnia than anything else) for about 5 days.
Then it was over. I used urine test strips for about 3 months to make sure I wasn’t shedding too many ketones, which indicates dehydration. I drank lots of water (about 150oz/day, since that was ½ my body weight in ounces), always with Mio Sport (or Mio Fit…it’s changed names). This is the Mio with Electrolytes. Before you comment, yes it’s not Strict Keto, Yes I know that. I’m super lucky that sucralose doesn’t trigger insulin release FOR ME. You might not be so lucky. Your cousin might not be so lucky. That’s the key and the magic of this. It’s all a grand experiment to figure out WHAT causes your body to release insulin, then don’t consume that.
Two big (huge!!!) insulin triggers for me are actually fructose and aspartame. I can get away with eating a fair amount of carbs a day now that I’m fat adapted (sometimes up to 50g net/day), and not trigger massive insulin release, unless I have a lot of fructose, or even a tiny amount of aspartame. It’s individual. Figure out what works for you.
I make a lot of my own foods, but I have pretty much a way to eat out at any restaurant. We even go to Mexican frequently. I’m never tempted, I never cheat (though I’ve been dosed with sugar and aspartame thanks to drive-thrus and sneaky manufacturers). I became an ingredient label detective. There are dozens of names that sugar, flour, and starches can show up as.
I even went to France for two weeks and didn’t cheat once. The desire isn’t there. I militantly protect myself from any possible scenario where I might end up making a choice I’d regret. For example, in France, I rented an apartment for two weeks, so I’d have a fully stocked kitchen and could cook my own meals. Sure we ate out here and there, but I was very diligent to make sure nothing sneaked in that would send me back to starting over with Keto Flu.
When I go to parties, I bring my own dessert, made with monkfruit and stevia, so I don’t ever feel left out or deprived. If I think I’ll have a gap between meals or my ability to find a Keto meal, I bring pepperoni sticks, cheese sticks, almonds, or quest bars (remember, I’m not strict Keto, I’m lazy/dirty keto for the most part). I carry Mio with electrolytes and Whole Earth Stevia/Monkfruit blend everywhere. I have stashes in my car, purse, office, friends’ and families’ houses…you name it. This is 99% preparation.
Yes, I’ve lost (as of this writing) 127.2 pounds. I dropped from size 26 (tight) to a size 10 (actually the bathing suit I just bought is an 8!!!). But…that’s seriously not the best part. My pain has dropped from crippling to a minor annoyance. I’m off the CPAP completely, my sleep apnea is gone. I can run up the stairs multiple times without gasping for breath. I can play on the floor with my grandbabies. My energy level has done a complete 180. My ability to focus has improved as well! I no longer have 3pm sleepy spells that require some carbs to recharge to make it through the last couple of hours of work. I am physically a different person, but also so much more.
Now. Is it all sunshine and roses? No. I’ll be upfront. There are some mental hurdles to overcome. Being so overweight was insulation for me, psychologically. I didn’t understand that until it was gone. Being so overweight is like an invisibility cloak, protection, and a shield all in one. When people look at you in some way, you can write it off as “It’s cause I’m fat.” When you aren’t fat and people look at you cross eyed…what was that about? What’s wrong with me? What did I do? It can be a massive shift, and unveil a lot of stuff you didn’t know needed addressing.
This is where having the right support system is HUGE. My therapist is amazing! I was working with her for a couple of years before I started Keto, and I just happened to luck out. She worked extensively with clients with anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders prior to helping me. She gives me great exercises to work towards mentally coming to terms with where my body is now, versus where my mental image is.
Another thing is that as I became smaller, I experienced a very scary feeling of vulnerability. There’s some past trauma I won’t get into, but the takeaway here is that (in my head), fat was insurance against re-experiencing that trauma. “I won’t be targeted,” was the underlying theme. Totally not in my awareness until it was gone, and I freaked out. Again…working through that with the therapist, through awareness and journaling, and with the help of my amazing life/productivity/executive coach.
I’ve been working with the world’s best physical therapist, who happens to also do personal training. I love that she both addresses the physical dysfunction causing the pain, but at the same time is moving me to an overall better physical place that reduces future flare ups. Dr. Amy is the best and if you are in the Charlotte area, you must check her out. I had to take a break with personal training while recovering from the cat-cussion, but that’s a post for a different day…
It’s been a huge journey. And it’s not over.