When my son’s high school principal contacted me and asked if I would be willing to speak to the staff on January 3, 2022 at their annual Professional Learning Community Day for forty-five minutes on: “promoting healthy lifestyle choices” I jumped at the opportunity. She added that she has been following my own keto journey on social media and wanted me to share with the staff how keto has helped me. I was impressed with her vision (a healthy team performs better than an unhealthy one) and I was determined to share in such a way as not to alienate. You see, the keto diet has come in for much maligning from mainstream media. They claim it is unhealthy, they claim it is unsustainable, they claim it fosters disordered eating. All I want is for people to live their best lives ever (as I am doing!) and I KNOW that health & wellness are tied to living a life in alignment & finding purpose. It’s way more than simply looking good and being a certain size.
Keto: The only route to wellness?
It was important to not seek to sell the keto diet as the only route to wellness. Some people shut down in the face dogmatic claims, and I get that. However, despite the labels ascribed to keto by mainstream, I know differently. How? One: my own lived experience says otherwise. Two: I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours digging into the science behind eating this way and I understand how it works. Like I said, though, in agreeing to share my story, my aim was not to sell keto to a soul. It was to simply share, explain why and how eating this way worked for me, and to share some general principles re: healthy living that I’ve learned over the last four wonderful years of my own wellness journey that I believe are universally applicable regardless of how you choose to label the way you eat: vegan, vegetarian, carnivore or “a little of all things in moderation“.
So What is Keto?
So why keto then? I’ve always struggled with weight. Up until the end of August 2017 I had tried every possible way to lose weight and keep it off: gym rat, Slim Fast, Herbal Life, juice cleanses, plant based eating, Atkins… And they ALL worked to get me to lose weight. Yes, I lost weight every single time, but always, always, regained whatever I’d lost. My chosen methods were not sustainable and not comfortable. I was always hungry and the effort to remain consistent was huge and felt burdensome. Except for one approach: Atkins. Atkins allowed me to eat as much as I want, but of specific foods. Lucky for me, the foods recommend by Atkins were foods I loved: meat, bacon, fish, eggs, cheese and green veggies. And the bonus with Atkins, is that when I ate this way, I felt great! My energy levels were high and my brain was clear and clicked with an efficiency that I felt and marveled at. So why couldn’t you sustain it then, Kelly, you ask. I have no excuses. I allowed myself to return to the foods that made me fat in the first place and guess what happened. Why did I return to them? Was I hungry? Deprived? Perhaps. Got complacent? Certainly.
Anyways, 14 years after a successful 2 years on Atkins, I decided to return to the one way that worked for me that I felt I could sustain with a little effort and certainly almost zero deprivation. Additionally, my then 14 yo son was waging his own battle with weight and I saw his own light dimming and was determined to intervene to help my son. We agreed to go keto for 30 days. Keto is basically the induction phase of Atkins: no sugar, no starches, no grain, just meat, fish, eggs, green veggies, dairy. I explain more about keto here.
My Lived Experience on Keto: Incontrovertible
In short, 30 days, turned into the way we both have lived for the last over four years, and how we currently live. Our bodies, health and LIVES have transformed:
- We’ve lost significant weight
- We haven’t been sick in over 4 years, not even a cold.
- My asthma has been dormant
- I have no more sleep apnea
- My cystic acne has disappeared
- My PCOS symptoms have disappeared
- My heartburn has disappeared
- We both have sustained a consistent exercise habit for over 4 years now
- My now 18yo son has a new lease on life, his now muscular 6′ 4″ body a testimony to his vastly improved metabolic & emotional health
How does Keto Work?
So why did keto work for us? Simple: it addressed the root cause of our obesity (and other symptoms of metabolic ill-health): INSULIN RESISTANCE. For those of us who fatten easily, have uncontrolled appetites, who struggle to lose weight, who probably have a diagnosis of diabetes type 2, hypertension or PCOS, the root cause is likely higher than normal blood insulin levels as our bodies attempt to metabolise the sugar in our blood resulting from the starches and sugars we consume. Those of us with insulin resistance do not respond efficiently to the insulin secreted by our bodies to deal with the sugar and starch we consume. Our bodies respond by secreting more and more insulin. The result is elevated blood insulin levels which creates an internal hormonal environment that causes our bodies to hold on to fat (hence the difficulty we have in trying to lose weight), which interrupts normal feelings of satiety (hence our large appetites) and which causes inflammation.
Higher than normal blood insulin levels also disrupt the normal functioning of other hormones in our body: sex hormones (hence PCOS) and the hormones governing kidney regulation (hence water retention and high blood pressure as our heart fights to pump this now larger volume of blood around our body).
Our aim, therefore, is to reduce blood insulin levels. There is no medication that does that. The way to do this is to remove the trigger for insulin: carbohydrates. As simple as that. Those of us who eat keto, remove the one non-essential macronutrient (carbohydrates) as we feed on the other two (protein and fats) and the result is a brand new hormonal environment which sees our body burning its own fat for energy and a optimized hormonal environment which results in normalized and efficient functioning of other physiological functions of our own body.
If the way you are eating now is working for you, fine! Carry on! They way I was eating was NOT working for me. Eating “all things in moderation” was painful and unsustainable. I now understand why. My insulin resistance meant that any carbs I consumed resulted in my body being flooded with insulin resulting in my holding on to dear life to my own fat and always feeling hungry. I needed to reduce my insulin levels, so I eliminated carbohydrates. I am now down from a size 20 to a normal size 12. I am firmly in control of my appetite and hunger is real and manageable, not the overwhelming, manufactured result of impaired hormonal functioning.
SO: Question everything! Are your current eating habits working for you?
- Some people find that eating more fiber results in more bloating. Is this your experience?
- If you’re diabetic and eating lots of fruit, check your blood sugars and see if that is working for you.
- Are you constantly hangry?
- Is your acid reflux persistent even though you’ve cut back on meat, fat and spices?
- Do you find eating a little of everything in moderation difficult?
- Have you swapped out quinoa for rice and still not losing weight?
- Do you eat “clean” all day and then find that you undo it all by snacking at nights?
- Have you ditched the bread for the so-called “good carbs” of yam, sweet potato and breadfruit and find that you are not losing weight?
- Do you go to gym religiously and find yourself unable to lose that last 10-15 lbs or that tummy that refuses to budge?
- Have you switched to eating a more plant-based diet yet feel deprived, hungry and still in chase of your weight loss goals?
- Have you accepted your diagnosis of diabetes type 2 and/or hypertension as inevitable (“it runs in my family”) and resigned yourself to life on medications?
- Are those medications curing you? Are you improving? Why not?
If all you’ve read so far feels similar to your own experience in trying to lose and keep off weight, and to improve your wellness, why not try keto for 30 days and see what happens? 30 days of anything won’t kill you. Need guidance? Get a coach. I’ve helped many, many take control by changing how they eat to keto. Contact me here if you think I can help.
Universal Truths in the Pursuit of Wellness
Here are some universal truths that will certainly help you on your own wellness journey, whether you opt to go keto or not:
- Don’t go hungry. PROTEIN is your answer to this. How can you sustain any chosen way of eating if you are hungry? C’mon now…
- Eat REAL food. Processed foods have inflammatory ingredients: refined carbs, processed seed oils & preservatives. These drive addiction and inflammation. If your food has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label, chances are, it is processed. Go for single ingredient foods as far as possible: EGGS. CHICKEN. FISH. SPINACH. AVOCADO. ALMONDS. BEEF. PORK. BUTTER.
- Meal prepping even 2x per week will help you achieve number 2. Use your oven & freezer to cook and store extras for those occasions that you don’t feel like cooking. Use store bought sugar free marinades, garlic powder, dried herbs to amp up your flavour without having to spend a lot of time mincing, dicing and chopping.
- DRINK MORE WATER.
- EAT LESS FREQUENTLY. Yes. If you’re eating all the time your insulin levels will NEVER get low enough to create a hormonal environment that gets you burning fat. When you do eat, eat foods that will keep you fuller for longer: PROTEIN!
- Get some sunlight & fresh air: 15 minutes per day, preferably the morning sun.
- MOVE: Walk. Lift something heavy. Get up 30 minutes earlier and do a 30 minute walk right at home in front of your TV using YouTube walking videos.
- MANAGE STRESS: journal, pray, socialize, volunteer, go to the beach, unplug, ask for help, leave that dysfunctional relationship, seek therapy. In addition to causing you to seek comfort and soothing from food, stress also creates a hormonal environment that causes your body to hold on to fat. Manage your stress and lose weight and reduce inflammation with less effort.
- ENJOY THE JOURNEY! When I started keto I promised myself never to feel deprived or hungry and to eat only delicious food. I’ve kept that promise these last 4 years. Deciding to eliminate carbs from my diet was not punishment for being fat. It was my chosen route to wellness, and 4 years later I’m still going strong, tweaking here and there, enjoying my smaller jeans, improved health and energy and stepping into purpose in my now aligned life.
KEEP IT SIMPLE & STRATEGIC
- You’ll get the most bang for your buck by fixing how you EAT first and foremost. You can’t outrun a bad diet.
- Don’t ADD, ELIMINATE! So called superfoods and detoxes do more to trick you into thinking that you’re making a difference rather than actually making one.
- Don’t try changing a million things at once. Start with dumping processed and junk food and drinking more water. Do this for a couple of weeks. THEN move to walking 3x per week.
- Prioritize sleep, both quality and quantity of sleep
Take control and Watch your life come into alignment!
As you start to live intentionally, you will find that in addition to losing weight, improving health and feeling better, you will see that control and intentionality spilling over into other areas of your life. I’ve had clients go back to school, fix their finances and move past guilt and emotional baggage to flourish. You’re worth the effort.