Happy Tuesday! Hope you are having a great week! I contemplated sharing this but I truly am hoping to help someone that may be going through what I went through and if I help just 1 person it would be awesome! Yesterday was our ONE year that Karl and I have gone Low carb/Keto. First a disclaimer:
I am not a doctor and I do not claim to be one. Everything I have learned about Keto I have researched on my own and have learned from others. I don’t have all the answers and some things you may not agree with and I am not posting this to push anyone into it. I am hoping my journey with Keto helps someone else as it has helped me tremendously.
I have always been active. In high school, I was a jock. Name the sport, I did it. In college I started teaching ‘aerobics’ and lifting weights. I continued teaching classes after college well into my career as a fun side thing to do by helping others get fit. It was a hobby. I called the money I made back then and still today “Karl’s beer money” LOL! I have always been active but also Italian which means lots and lots of food/carbs. As you can imagine, I grew up with a breadstick in my mouth. Every holiday or social outing was surrounded by food. My mother would cook for 20 but there were only 4 of us. I never really worried about weight gain. I had my share of ups and downs. The more active I was, I could eat and it wouldn’t be a problem. A friend once told me in my early 40s that when I hit my mid 40s I will see how hard it is to lose weight even being active. Now she wasn’t being rude or mean. She was telling me that things ‘change’ as you age. I knew that. She was 6 years older than me and had already been through it. I did believe her but knowing how active I am I thought, what, who me? I exercise like a maniac so I should not have an issue. Well, guess what? I turned 45 and starting feeling my body change. I didn’t get too hung up on it because I was exercising and eating clean. At 47, I started noticing weight gain, the hot flashes started, and the up and down moods were not fun. I went to my gynecologist and he found nothing wrong. I went to my rheumatoid doctor, and once again, nothing wrong. He ended up referring me to an endocrinologist… She found nothing wrong, but gave me metformin to probably shut me up. I took it but… wait for it… it did NOTHING!
This before and after was approved by corporate. Any It works pictures shown on social media must have an IW corporate approval before it can be shared. Picture on left is right before we left for Disney. Picture on right was 4 months later.
I read the book by Suzanne Somers called “I am too young for this” and I felt like she had written this book for me. It was all about the ‘change’. She talked about synthetic hormones and bio-identical hormones. As you know, synthetic is ‘made in a lab’ and bio-identical is natural. I told my gynecologist at the time I did not want synthetic hormones. I have heard too many stories and honestly I don’t take any prescription meds so I knew I didn’t want to be medicated. I am not saying anything is wrong with synthetic hormones, I just didn’t want to go down that road. Through a search and some recommendations, I found a bio-identical hormone doctor and I made an appointment. I told him everything about what I was going through, family history, my autoimmune issue, current health etc. He did a thorough exam testing EVERYTHING you can imagine – diabetes, cancer, hormones, auto immune issues etc. You name it he tested for it and he took a ton of blood. 2 weeks later the results were in. And guess what friends? I came back with a clean bill of health and he confirmed my auto-immune issue that I have (Scleroderma – the good kind). He also found my hormones were completely out of whack. He wanted to put me on a bunch of supplements and IV nutrition/supplement 3x/week. I had just signed on to be a rep for It Works Global and all the supplements he wanted me to be on were in my line, so I just took those and didn’t do the IV. I will say being on the natural supplements did make a world of difference and I started feeling better. One of the supplements was a menopause supplement and that did help the hot flashes. I had that menopause supplement cleared with my doctor and he said it was ok to take. He also wanted me to change my way of eating. I was already eating paleo which I loved, but he really wanted me to dial it down even more. I did for a while but I felt way too restricted so I gave up and went back to eating clean/paleo which I felt better on but I just wasn’t losing weight.
So the next 2.5 years I started feeling a little better, lost a few pounds, and just learned to embrace what my body was going through. I was in peri-menopause, so just deal with it. Then the big 5-0 hit. I didn’t mind turning 50 at all. I have my health and my family and if I could just get through menopause it’ll be alright. It can’t be that bad, right?
Last Fall we took the kids to Disney world for 7 days. We had the best time! I ate whatever I wanted that week. Even those delicious mickey shaped soft pretzels dipped in cheese every damn day because we were at Disney World and on vacation. While we were there, It Works came out with the first product of the new Keto works line called Keto coffee which is their name for bulletproof coffee. The difference is our Keto coffee has collagen in it and it instant. I had heard of bulletproof coffee and all the benefits of the coffee but didn’t want to take the time to make it with adding the butter and coconut oil. I was intrigued, and since I am a product of the product, I ordered it before we left Disney so it would be in my mailbox when I arrived home. I had been hearing a lot about the Keto diet for almost a year. Some people would do great on it and others didn’t do well on Keto. There was a lot of ‘noise’ about the diet regarding cholesterol, the dairy involved, and that you can’t sustain this way of eating for a long time plus other ‘noise’ But what diet doesn’t have ‘noise’? They ALL do. I did some research on 2 websites on the way home from Florida. The sites were Ruled.me and dietdoctor.com. I also started a Pinterest board pinning a bunch of Keto recipes and inspiration. I also thought, if I am going to do this how about starting a Keto group on FB and see if anyone else would want to do it with me and we can keep each other accountable, share recipes, inspire and help each other? To my surprise after a quick FB post about starting the group, several people wanted to be added and it kept growing! We are almost at 200 members! I am proud to say the group is still going! These ladies are killing it and I am so proud of them!
I remember the weekend we came back from Disney. I felt miserable from all that indulging. That Monday I did an It Works cleanse to reset my body and just started Keto. I knew if I did too much research I would have never started. Literally I just started. I had the basic understanding of what Keto was, getting into Ketosis and just started cutting carbs, upping good fats and eating good proteins. Karl was not all in Keto. He basically just started with ‘low carb’ but since I do most of the meal planning, prep and cooking for us he is Keto by default.
I started with the app – My Fitness Pal. I do not like to track my food! But I knew I needed to track my food so I can be on track with the macros and figure this out. Counting Macros is not hard. They are simply a combination of your fats, proteins, and carbs. I kept my ratios at 70% good fats, 20% carbohydrates, and 10% carbs. Yup – 10% carbs. Folks, it was hard, really hard, but I kept at it. My carbs consisted of mostly veggies. No Bread, No rice, No potatoes (white or sweet) Proteins were meat, eggs, chicken, fish etc. Fats were Avocados, nuts, nut butters and cooking and sautéing veggies in good fats – coconut oil, olive oil, butter and ghee – because that counts in ‘Keto’ to keep your good fats up to 70%. I used the app tracker for about a month until I got the hang of it. I will admit tracking made me nuts. I honestly don’t know how that can be kept up with. If you do track you are my hero and I applaud you! For me, if I would have had to keep tracking everything the last year I would have never stayed with this lifestyle for a whole year and that is the darn truth.
This is what a typical day of food looked like in the beginning:
Breakfast: eggs with bacon or sausage, sometimes an avocado
Lunch: Salad with protein and veggies, sometimes lunch meat
Dinner: protein with veggies
Snacks: nuts, a tbsp. of nut butter, pork rinds, and berries
In the beginning I did snack but as my body became fat adapted (what is called Ketosis) I was never hungry in between. I’ll say that again – I was NEVER hungry in between meals – and it was the best feeling ever! As far as being in ketosis I have never tested to see if I was in ketosis. They say the urine strips are not a good indicator and a waste of money and the blood ketones monitors are pricy. Another way to know if you are in ketosis is what I mentioned above… If you are not hungry or have hunger pains any longer, your body becomes fat adapted/in ketosis. Here is a good article on Keto adaptive/Ketosis to learn more ketosis
Picture on left was June 2017 for my first ever CrossFit competition. Picture on right was during the CrossFit games in March 2018 at our box/gym.
I did Keto for several months even with the holidays and it really was not hard. I remember when my parents were here for Christmas. My mom literally takes over in the kitchen when she is here. Knowing this I made sure there was food that Karl and I could eat because I knew the pasta was coming out in full force. When I told my mom I didn’t eat pasta anymore she literally fell over but she had seen that Karl and I started losing weight and feeling better so she didn’t push.
I get asked often: How do you do this with 4 kids and what do they eat? It’s simple: They eat the same as we do, but I will make a carb for them whether it be pasta, rice or potatoes and they love the Keto recipes I have made from Pinterest too. They have given the recipes a thumbs up! And for the record: I do not eat a lot of dairy – I eat some but don’t indulge on dairy daily. I honestly keep it very simple.
These are some of the amazing benefits that I have experienced from going Keto:
After I jumped into Keto for about a month I took at stab at Intermittent Fasting. All that simply means is I didn’t eat breakfast and used the Keto coffee for my breakfast. Everyone pretty much goes into Ketosis every night because you don’t eat from dinner time until you wake up. Once the body burns/depletes glucose overnight it will start burning fat while you sleep. Once you eat breakfast you stop the FAST that happened over night. When you Intermittent fast you keep fasting until around lunch time by not eating. I usually do what is called at 16:8 IF ratio which is I FAST for 16 hours and eat within an 8 hour window. The keto coffee keeps me full in the mornings because it has grass fed butter, coconut oil and collagen in it. The benefits of this coffee are amazing! Just google bulletproof coffee and you will be amazed! I can absolutely say without a doubt (and not because I am a rep for the coffee) it has really helped my journey of feeling good and shedding weight in the last year. The coffee burns fat, gives you amazing energy and clarity and keep you full. I do not IF every day. If I am not hungry I am going to have the keto coffee for my breakfast but if I am hungry I will eat breakfast. I IF with the coffee 3-5 days a week.
As you may know I am a fitness freak having taught group fitness since 1986. I preach exercise daily and CrossFit 5-6 days a week. Being fit is a very large part of my life and is what keeps me sane. It has of course, also helped with me weight loss. I have not only lost 18 lbs. but I have gotten leaner and stronger losing almost 5% body fat. I highly recommend with any lifestyle change that you add exercise but please make sure you confirm with your doctor.
Picture on left July 2017 and picture on right is June 2018
What I learned:
- My version of Keto may be different than your version of Keto. You may find that you are ok with 50 grams of carbs versus the 20 grams that most people start with. Do what works for YOU. You will figure this out as your move forward.
- If I would have continued tracking my food after a month I would have, hands down, given up. I literally hated putting my food in a tracker every day. To me it was one more thing I needed to do. I do suggest starting with a food tracking app so you know where you are and how many carbs and sugar are in food. You will be amazed how much is hidden in foods! I look at labels on everything now. The 2 trackers I suggest are My Fitness Pal and Carb Counter. Both FREE in the app store.
- It is not all about losing weight. I know this is hard for some people because most go on a ‘diet’ to lose weight. It is the number one goal. I know there are people that weight every single day. I have never done that. I go by how my clothes feel (I am 3 dress sizes down). If you go in without a weight loss goal and just to honestly get your health back, the rest will follow – trust me on this.
- I was not perfect every day… I cheated and still do, but it is not an entire day or weekend anymore. I was that girl that ate clean during the week only to mess it up every single weekend starting Friday night. I cannot do that anymore because I literally feel miserable when I do eat something bad.
- I am now an ‘intuitive’ eater. I know what foods bother me and which ones don’t. I have learned to listen to my body and will eat when I am hungry. I don’t crave sugar anymore and I don’t get hunger pains anymore. It is such an awesome feeling when you get to that point.
Picture on left September 2017 and Picture on right is 2018
I hope I have helped and motivated you. That is my entire goal. I hope the pictures I have posted in the past and now on the blog have helped. Most people on Keto lose weight quickly and some of the noise of keto is the weight loss is so fast that it comes right back on. In my case I have lost 18 lbs. and 3 dress sizes slowly. I have not put any of the weight back on and I feel that I can keep this lifestyle forever. I recently just had a full physical with my primary care doctor and my gynecologist and all my numbers came back perfect with gold stars on everything! I realize this is not a lifestyle for everyone and I would never push it on anyone. If you do have questions I would love for you to comment below and I would be happy to answer them. And one last thing, don’t ever give up! I could have easily given in to menopause but I didn’t. I’m 51 years young and feel better now than I did in my 20s, 30s, and 40s. I kicked menopause to the curb🤩
Until next time,