|Before and During|
So during August last year we were at the beach. My photog daughter snapped a pic of me. I was in my happy place. After all, Frenchman’s Cove in Portland, Jamaica and a bottle of rum are the closest one can get to heaven, right? I was HORRIFIED when I saw the pic. It wasn’t even a full-body pic. It was just my face.
Who the eff is that old, tired, fat woman in the pic? Her glasses look like mine, but surely that can’t be me!
I made up my mind then and there. There had been other factors pushing me to take control, such as me becoming easily winded, my pants becoming shorter and tighter, fewer and fewer pics snapped that met my approval, and fear of getting into cinema and plane seats.
So at the end of August, I simply did what I know works for me. I cut out carbs and alcohol, even though some alcohol is low carb (more on that soon though). I did it cold turkey, and I stuck with it, even though at age forty-nine, it was simply not working as fast as it had previously.
I’ve always been fat, but I’ve had about two battles I’d won by removing carbohydrates from my diet. Those were great times in my life. I’m not here to body-shame anybody that is fat, or to be lectured about self love even when fat. Save your breath. I’m telling MY story, and I’m saying that I’ve been happier when I’ve been smaller. I hate being unhappy, so I decided to take control.
It’s Keto, Baby! What I did (and what I’m still doing)
I cut out ALL carbohydrates, even the “good” ones. I’m not here to discuss moderation. I researched the science. I know my body, I had precedence, and I acted. This is not a lecture, nor is it a recommendation. I’m simply telling my own story. I ate meat, fish, dairy, good fats. I didn’t watch portion sizes when I just started out. I’ve found that deprivation is the surest way to be inconsistent, and nothing good will happen without consistency. Am I low-carb, or am I on the ketogenic diet? I use the terms interchangeably. Ketogenic dieters typically consume less than twenty grams of carbs per day. For context, a slice of whole wheat bread has on average, fifteen grams of carbs. A cup of cooked rice has on average, forty-five grams carbs. Pasta is similar to rice. Get the picture? Low-carbers allow up to one hundred grams of carbs per day. Based on what I consume, I am more of a ketogenic dieter, than I am low-carb. I DON’T eat typical carb-rich foods such as rice, pasta and bread. However, I eat nuts in moderation, and lots of green vegetables – cooked and raw. I especially like cabbage, lettuce and cucumbers.
I limit the use of artificial sweeteners, and don’t try to find a low-carb substitute for every single carb-rich food. I try to find joy and pleasure in any and all naturally low-carb, good-fat foods.
Over time, as my body chemistry changed, I became able to eat less as cravings subsided, and my body was now able to register “full” as a feeling. Yes, it’s ALL about chemistry, and not simply calories in and calories out!
Keto Jamaica style: What I like about it
I love to cook, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of finding new and exciting dishes that I (we) enjoy and still allow me to lose weight. I’m even baking now; I’m trying new recipes, and inventing a few of my own along the way.
Keto Jamaica style: What I don’t like about it
It takes effort. I have to plan ahead to remain consistent. I can’t allow myself to get hungry on the road without knowing what I’m going to eat. That would mean eating a patty, pastry, or a box food, none of which comply with my commitment to myself. It takes effort, and it takes food prep. Of course, I’ve found convenient shortcuts over the past almost year. I carry small packs of nuts in my bag. I always have a can of tuna handy. A cut-up rotisserie chicken in the freezer has saved my life on multiple occasions. I’ve even discovered that hard boiled eggs can keep in the fridge for a few days!
So Do I miss Carbs?
Not so much now. I did at first. Rice was my crack. I missed the mouth feel. I missed alcohol initially. But I chose to stick with my way of eating. After getting over the initial withdrawal symptoms of headaches, nausea, and fatigue, my energy soared and my moods stabilized. That provided incentive for me to continue. So much of what we eat, and when we eat it, is sheer habit. You do know that you can break habits and form new ones, right?
Sad at First
Changes were slow in coming. Not everyone noticed initially. In fact, people started to take note MONTHS into this journey. That was disappointing. Here I was in the middle of a serious life change with no external validation! But again, I chose to stick with my way of eating. By the time John Public caught on, I was over the need for validation and feeling great about my choices. I was also sad, believe it or not, when I started to lose weight and hit milestones that I had hit in the past. I was angry with myself for allowing myself to slip so far, but I persevered and talked myself on many an occasion out of regret and self pity.
Keto and cheating ?
Once I understood the science behind this way of eating, cheating held zero appeal. Truth be told, I enjoyed the challenge of finding compliant ways to treat myself, rather than self-sabotage with cheating. Think low-carb desserts like low-carb cheesecake, low-carb cookies, or a juicy steak with all the low-carb fixings like mushroom sauteed in butter, or creamed spinach. I haven’t cheated. I don’t cheat. I don’t feel in any way deprived.
What about exercise?
Understand this: I have always exercised, but here’s the truth that you already know too: weight loss is 80% fork, 20% exercise. Just accept it. You would have to be exercising like an elite athlete in order to eat the way you currently do, and lose weight at the same time. We know you’re not, we know you can’t. Simple. But in losing weight, here’s what happened: I became more consistent with my workouts and I increased the intensity of my workouts. I’d describe my current work out situation as moderate, 30- 40 min, 5 times per week. I do yoga, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and a weekly 5K walk/run. That’s it. I also still exercise at home. I don’t go to the gym at this time.
Game Changer though…
Removing carbohydrates from my diet got me going in terms of weight loss, slowly but steadily. As I read and began to understand the science and chemistry of what was going on in my body, and as I started to interact with other people on a similar (weight loss) journey, I was introduced to Intermittent Fasting. Intermittent Fasting deserves a whole post for itself. Suffice it to say though, that months into my journey, as my cravings were subsiding, as I had demonstrated mastery over my appetite and proved to myself that consistency was the key to my success, I gradually introduced intermittent fasting. The result? More rapid weight loss and energy like never before. Game. Changer.
So how many carbs a day do you do?
I track nothing. I don’t count carbs, I don’t weigh, I don’t count calories, I don’t measure. Good or bad? I don’t know. I just know that this is how I’ve chosen to operate on this journey. The scale had proven a deceptive slave master in the past. My moods were determined by what the scale chose to say to me on any given day. I decided to eat-low carb foods (meat, fish, eggs, dairy, fats) and not limit green veggies. If green veggies took me over the standard twenty carbs per day, then so be it. I LOVE food, and I was determined to hold on to the pleasure I derive from food and still win. This is how I chose to do it. I’m sorry I didn’t measure. But I have pics. Lots of them. And they don’t lie. Know what else doesn’t lie? My clothes.
So take what you want from my story. I turn fifty in a few weeks time. And I have zero regrets about the decision I took last year August to take control of my like the best way I know how. I have awesome support at home. All of us eat low carb now, but they eat fruit. I don’t. I have awesome support from various online low carb fora that I’m part of. I follow lots of low-carb and keto Instagram accounts for inspiration and ideas re: food.
Perhaps in the coming weeks I can share my own story as it relates to:
- Eating out
- Resisting temptation
- Exercising at home
- Avoiding boredom in my food choices
- Simplifying meal planning and prep
- My favourite dishes
- Intermittent fasting
Do you have questions? Comments? Shoot them at me please! Like I said, this remains a journey, my own journey. I’m not at goal yet. I’m not recommending, and I’m sure I’ll continue to modify my own approach at various stages of my journey.