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.
“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…
“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.
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
One of the members of our Caribbean Keto Tribe reached out to the group with this question: “How do you stay on track with keto when there are people in the house who eat carbs?”It’s a very valid question. When you’re trying to change the way you’ve eaten all your life, and those same (delicious) carbs are all around you, the task can seem daunting. It becomes trickier when you’re the one that prepares most of the meals too, right? You figure that if you lived alone or if everyone else was doing keto, you could easily make a salad with grilled chicken or some cauliflower rice and curried goat and keto on. But the presence of bread in the house, that ice cream in the freezer, that box of breakfast cereal in the cupboard, the crispy snacks that you buy for the kids and the mac and cheese you’re making to go with dinner test your best resolve.
“Don’t eat this!” “Eat more of that!” “The keto-what?” “Carbs are the devil!” “Fats are good!” “But not trans fats!” “But what about my cholesterol?” “Am I in ketosis?” “My macros need adjusting!” “Don’t count calories but count carbs? Say what?” “And what the hell is a carb anyway?” “IT’S ALL SO CONFUSING! I GIVE UP!” Are you at that point yet? You’ve tried so many things, yet you’re still fat. Have you resigned yourself to being fat forever? Are you trying to convince yourself that you’re happy? Are you finding work-arounds to exist in this world as a fat person? If this resonates with you then you’re the person I’m talking to.
Don’t give up just yet… This is the Information Age, and so today, our challenge is not accessing information. Our challenge is to be able to sift through the plethora of information out there, triangulate and then decide what is valid from what is sheer quackery. So I get it. The frustration at being able to nail down exactly what to do to lose weight is all too real in the face of all the information out there. One person says “eat more fat to lose weight!” And another person insists that juice cleansing is the way to go. And yet another person says eat a wholly plant based diet. So who is right?
I’ve been on the keto diet for over a year and a half now. If I had a dollar for every time someone remarked to me “Wow! You have so much willpower!” I wouldn’t need to sell another low-carb bread or quiche! I don’t think that willpower has been the critical success factor for me on this journey. I have simply created some new habits that have now become my default position, the way I simply live today. I have discovered that so much of what we eat, how much we eat and when we eat, is not driven by our physiology or some biological need to survive. We do these things largely out of habit! That’s how we’ve always eaten. We always eat breakfast! Right? As I coach people in their own weight loss journeys, I’ve become interested in this whole subject of “habit” and “addiction” and change. People can and do change their habits. Sure, it takes some effort, but understanding exactly how habits work can help you target your efforts and make them count. Yes you can!