This coming Thursday will mark my two-month Keto-versary. I started on the ketogenic “diet” on May 6 and have, so far, lost approximately 18 pounds.
When I first heard about this keto business, it was last year, and my boyfriend had told me the benefits of eating and living keto. His mother, an incredibly inspiring and extremely helpful coach through all of this, has been keto-ing for quite some time and has seen miraculous results. The greatest result in my eyes? Going from a type 2 diabetic to no diabetes at all. This is exactly what I have been hoping for this entire journey so far, and hope to achieve it. When Chris first told me about what he did to be in ketosis did not sound appealing – mostly bacon and eggs and lots of nuts, no sugar, no carbs of any kind, and no processed foods.
But…but…pizza, candy, nachos for fuck’s sake! NACHOS?! I have to give up NACHOS?! How dare you. Not to mention giving up refried beans, bagels, lasagna, potato chips, and all sorts of other tasty diversions.
It was really hard for me to wrap my head around this. I mean, food had been one of my many forms of self-therapy for…all my life. Since I was a very, very young child. I still remember my mom would fill my bottles with Kool-Aid. My sugar addiction started before I could barely walk and talk, and now all of a sudden I’m quitting cold turkey? I was actually scared, as dumb as that sounds.
Think for a moment, though. Pretend sugar is an abusive relationship partner. Abusive partners will do anything to make you stay in their grasp. They will swoon, they will lie, they will convince you that you cannot live without them. And from the research I’ve done? Sugar does that to our brains. Sugar sends out a reward signal to our cerebral cortex in our brains and carries it through our bodies giving us that satisfying feel goodness. So does sex. So do drugs. Is sugar an addictive substance? I sure as hell think so. And now, here I am, having to quit my drug of choice. Breaking up with this abusive coping mechanism I’ve used for so. many. years.
But it was something new, and all my life, I’d learned that fat was bad for you. How was my heart supposed to survive if I kept eating bacon all the time? It didn’t make sense to me, and Chris is certainly one to try new things before truly delving into his research behind the thing. It was a question of trust for me, a question of whether I could do this self-discipline stuff. I’d done things before to help me lose weight, and those things had kind of worked, but this was changing my one constant variable in my life – food…carbs! Sugar! I have a bass guitar that has an “I heart carbs” sticker on it. It’s embedded into my brain and my body!
It took me almost a full year to take his advice and start keto. After watching not only the successes he and his mom were having sustaining a ketogenic lifestyle, I realized that perhaps things wouldn’t be so bad. I started off small. I had a keto weekend. All meats and healthy fats from Friday to Sunday and back to enjoying granola and toast on Monday with my work breakfasts.
That weekend showed me I could do this thing, that it wasn’t anything like starving myself on the other diets I’d tried, that there was plenty of do-able variety with this, and that perhaps I could do more than a weekend.
The next weekend, I tried again but decided that on Monday when I went to work, I would just enjoy my yogurts without the granola, or skip the toast and bring an egg in to soft-boil in the microwave. The first morning went by and it was doable. I still used my creamer for my coffee, but I was taking small steps, feeling out the water of this ketogenic pool. Then I started bringing keto lunches, and eventually started making my own keto dinners (since my parents are wholeheartedly never giving up carbs/sugar). It was doable. A little pricey, to be completely honest, but do-able.
In the first week, I started feeling a few changes. First off was the “keto flu” which just makes you feel crazy lethargic and just kind of achy and sore and zombie-like. This is apparently normal because your body is switching systems from using insulin in your pancreas from carbs to using ketones in your liver from fats. It wasn’t so bad, though. It lasted maybe two or three days. But after that, I surprisingly had more energy than I had in some time. I also had noticed my depression/anxiety/aggression had gone down immensely.
It’s now been two months on eating no carbs, no sugar, and lots and lots of fat. I’ve joined a positive, empowering community online, and still have an incredible coach in my boyfriend and in his mom. Without them, I would have no support. It’s really tough to see my own parents not really care about my lifestyle change. I get it, I mean it’s not their lifestyle that needs to change, but they just don’t seem to give a good god-damn. Maybe it’s from watching me fail at every other diet in the world so many times that they’re used to seeing the hype in the first few weeks/month of a new health journey. I dunno for sure, but since Chris and Cheryl both live hundreds of miles away, and my other supportive community is mostly online, it gets lonely. I don’t get to share my excitement with finding new recipes or buying a new type of meat or protein bar. They just say something to the effect of, “That’s nice honey,” as they gnaw on their chili dogs for the 12th time during the week.
I’m fortunate enough to have an incredible local food co-op filled with wonderful people who enjoy healthy living, and I’ve made such good friends there since becoming a member in April. It’s been a great place to go not only for food, but for fellowship. My local grocery store tries its utmost to keep healthy items in their store, but they have small town prices (spendy) and very limited variety. That means I have to go at least 20 miles for easier access to keto-friendly/affordable foods. It’s a shame, but I guess that’s the way it goes. I do my best to support my local businesses when I can.
Now, I barely even crave sugar. I check my nutritional information on everything I purchase. I make sure to get the most keto-friendly item on menus when I go out to eat. I try to move everyday (and it’s easy to do since it’s summertime. Winter will be a new challenge), my boyfriend has been an incredible coach in this department – we go hiking every weekend we are together, we play frisbee, we go swimming, and it is just so much more fun when you have someone who enjoys being active rather than seeing it as a chore.
I hope to continue my journey for many more months, and hopefully many more years. Some of the success stories on keto that I’ve seen are inspirational. It’s still early, but I feel like this is truly something I can stick to.
Here’s to a healthy future. Break ups are hard, but sometimes, they are necessary in order for us to become stronger, more beautiful, more brilliant creatures than we once were. Maybe this breakup from sugar will help me to see how much I relied on it to carry me through the trauma that is in my past.