She’s in her late 30s. She lives and works right here in Jamaica. All her life she tried to lose weight. Spoiler alert: SHE DID! Her story of how she finally did it is absolutely inspiring. Her name is Naki. And there’s so much about Naki’s story that I identify with. Perhaps you’ll find parallels with Naki’s story too. It is my privilege to share her story. I am grateful for her willingness to be open and her generosity in sharing her journey. Naki’s story is about a body and a life “right-sized”. Let’s go!
WARNING:I use the word “fat”, and I do so with understanding, compassion and a huge dose of keeping it real. If you know my own story, you will understand that I of all people, truly get it, and that my using the word “fat” is never a condemnation or a judgement.
There are some things that I have incorporated on my weight-loss journey that have made things so much easier and more enjoyable. That they are local makes me enjoy them even more. Buying and eating Jamaican as much as possible should be our goal. Here are 13 things that I’m crushing on while I’m on my keto journey here in the beautiful island of Jamaica. Presented in no particular order, here they are. I hope you find inspiration and ideas that you can incorporate on your own journey.
I can cook. I cooked my first full meal for my 10th birthday. I was guided by my late maternal grandmother who is one of the best cooks I’ve known. I chose the menu: steamed fish, stewed beef, white rice and vegetables. Those were some of my favourite foods. Grandma was patient with her young apprentice, and I remember acquitting myself fairly well if I may say so myself! My desire to learn to cook never waned, and I was able to give full expression to this desire when I left home for university. In those days we didn’t have Google or YouTube or Whatsapp for instant easy access to recipes and methods. But I had Grandma. I’d ask her how to do this, and how to do that, over the telephone and then go do it. Since then, I’ve become a pretty good cook. But baking has always intimidated me.
It’s still not a low-carb world, but with a little planning and a little effort too, you can stick to your desire to eat low-carb and improve your health and your life. Recently, a friend who had lost 30 lbs on keto, asked me for help. He said that he is bored with his food. That he feels stuck rotating the low-carb foods that he has been eating for the past year or so, and that on the road, his options are so limited. He knows he doesn’t want to go back to the bread and rice, so he finds himself not eating. Someone else in his position is likely to find themself eating those unhealthy foods again. No bueno. Food is good. I believe we were meant to enjoy food (function AND pleasure). And we need to nourish our bodies. Sleep and nourishing food are critical to optimizing weight and health. I already shared my own hacks for Eating Keto on the Go in Jamaica. In this post I share my hacks for making meal prep easy and tasty!
“I’ve been doing keto for a month now and I haven’t lost a pound.”
That was a comment I received from a prospective client. I immediately told her that I suspected hidden carbs as the culprit. She insisted that she ate low-carb, with the occasional fried chicken or shrimp in batter. I explained that the batter is made from wheat flour which is carb rich. She explained that she didn’t think “that little bit of flour would make a difference.” She recently shared with me a picture of her meal: fish and vegetable salad. Sounds good, right? Except that the fish was done brown-stewed style, which means it is first fried than cooked down in a ketchup rich sweet and spice sauce. Ketchup is unbelievably high in sugar. There are 11g sugar in 100g coca cola, 9 g sugar in 100g orange juice and 22g sugar in 100g ketchup.
August 28, 2017. Almost 2 years ago… I decided (for the millionth time) to try and lose some weight. And it’s funny, because at the beginning of that same August, I cleaned out my wardrobe and ditched all my “slim” clothing. I had somehow told myself that I was going to get old, fat. I had given up apparently. Then my daughter took a picture of me in my happy place, at the beach, and I simply hated what I saw. I have always been fat, but the face that stared back at me was bloated, my neck was MIA and I almost didn’t recognize myself. I decided to give it a go again. I knew from past experience that cutting carbs was the way for me to lose weight (I simply functioned better and it had worked in the past). A 30-day trial was in order. Here’s what happened next…
Kingston, Jamaica has been hot… The kind of still, brassy heat that makes it difficult to breathe. The Sahara dust coming in from the Motherland has made things worse, and all over the city sits a haze that forces you to shield your eyes from the glare. We decided to escape one Saturday. We normally head for the beach, but the thought of sunbathing and splashing in warm water held very little appeal in our search for respite from the unrelenting heat of the city. It had to be a river. I envisaged trees along the side of the river and the icy cold water characteristic of our rivers. I created an entire picnic in my mind and I just knew how our day at the river would look and feel. We just had to decide on the river…
“Today is a cheat day.” Why? What is it that you’re missing out on that you feel the need to go off plan? This is a controversial topic that people get quite emotional about. I have been keto since end August 2017. My son and I started keto together, and in the early days, we would play this game: “Would you cheat on keto for that?“ LOL! It was fun! Popeye’s chicken and patties (a delicious portable, meat filled pastry here in Jamaica) would always get a resounding YES, but we pressed on with our low-carb food, opting to relegate the Popeye’s and patties to fantasy status only. Months passed and pounds were shed and one day he reminded me of this silly game we used to play. We had simply stopped playing it because we simply didn’t crave that kind of food any more.
Sometimes you’ve just got to get out of Kingston… know what I mean? Like any major city, Kingston, Jamaica has its fair share of stressors: traffic, ongoing road improvement works, horrible taxi drivers that force your soul into your mouth with every drive, noise, searing heat especially now that they’ve removed what seems like every living tree all in the name of road network expansion and the everlasting presence of garbage. Everywhere. So two weekends ago H insisted on heading out of the city for the day. Who am I to fight against a drive out of town, that’s likely involve a beach stop and yummy food 🙂 Here’s what we did and how we stayed keto (and happily so!) on a perfect day on the road.
So keto is in the news these days, all over it. And for those of us living in the Caribbean I can understand why some would dismiss the benefits of this diet and ignore the success stories by labeling it as “another north American fad.” Well, I live in the Caribbean, Jamaica to be precise, and I’ve been keto since end August 2017…and counting. And I’m not alone! There’s a small but growing community of us right here in the Caribbean and the diaspora who are living the keto lifestyle, eating the delicious high octane food that characterises our region. In my latest podcast episode I cover the following topics to show how we rock keto Caribbean style