My LCHF/keto journey has been unique to me, just like most others truthfully. When I started during June of 2016, I was fed up with being tired all the time, having no energy, struggling to stand up from a floor-seated position, and having to take meds for constant acid reflux. I wasn’t 100% sure how to eat because as a vegetarian, I didn’t eat red meat, pork, chicken, or beef. I decided to add fish and other seafood back to my diet to make this work, and I figured out how to move forward by spending a lot of time reading and researching online.
My spouse and teen were supportive but completely not interested in joining me. One day about two months after making the switch to low-carb, my size 14 pants were loose. I couldn’t believe it—8 weeks! It was around that time, people started asking if I was losing weight. “I’m trying,” I’d reply with a smile. From August to November 2016 , I dropped more weight, and I had to have all my pants taken in at the waist. I was just not very hungry, and found that I could go many hours between meals.
That’s when I knew I was really fat-adapted. In February 2017, a mentor advised intermittent fasting at that point in my journey, so I started fasting 18:6 or 16:8 (missing breakfast) each day, and I switched to black coffee. I wasn’t actively seeking more weight loss, but fasting was definitely the missing puzzle piece to make this a long-term, sustainable way of eating. It just felt right. My journey has been slow and it took a little over a year and a few months to get to goal weight (I actually surpassed my original goal weight in December of 2017), but my perspective is that I’d much rather have slow and sustainable than fast and furious.
The way I see it, the time it took was like a “training course,” teaching me how to choose nutrient-dense food, to avoid fatty coffees/fat bombs, to order in a restaurant without over-analyzing, to prep, to try new foods, to stay off the scale and go more by how I feel, to get some light exercise, to eat vegetables I used to avoid, to take vitamins, and to truly internalize that this is about more than weight loss: it’s about life health and well being.
1. What tactics did you employ to help you get to your goal? What did you find helped you get to your goals best?
To help me get to my goal, It was important to expand my food choices. As a long-time vegetarian, I had relied on starchy foods and grains to fill me for many years. Once I took those items out of my day to day diet, I realized that I had to fill the gap to make this a sustainable, long-term way of eating. I knew there was no way for me to stick to it if I only had 5 foods in rotation! With that in mind, I began trying new foods. For ones where the cooking process intimidated me, I tried them first in restaurants so that I’d have an idea of how they should/could be seasoned and prepared. That gave me the encouragement to buy and make them at home.
2. What is the most impactful change you’ve made to your diet and why do you feel it’s been the most important?
Learning to listen to my appetite (i.e. body’s signals) has been a game-changer. Some days I eat less, some days I eat more because my body demands it. Over time, I even fell into a pattern of intermittent fasting, which puts my daily meals at one to two per day on average. Following my appetite rather than the standard three-meals-per-day-and-a-snack has been very liberating. Being capable of fasting makes traveling for my job a snap and frees up money I once would have spent in a restaurant, or time I would have required to prepare and pack specific foods for the day.
3. What is the best single piece of advice you can give to someone that is just starting out?
The best piece of advice I could offer a newcomer is to spend time on low-carb/keto sites, listen to LCHF/keto lifestyle podcasts and read books by leaders in the LCHF/keto world, and join online support communities. I am convinced that those resources keep us focused, help us acquire key knowledge, and remind us that we are not odd, nor are we alone.
4. How do you feel your life is now that you’re at your goal?
I feel better at 47 than I did at 27! I have consistent energy, suffer infinitely fewer aches and pains, enjoy better quality sleep, and wear clothes that I like. I no longer worry about what my doctor might say to me as I age.
5. What do you consider the biggest change in your day-to-day life?
I no longer feel self-conscious or embarrassed of my shape and weight when I’m in public. I used to both consciously and subconsciously try to minimize the space I occupied in a room, elevator, or car. I wore black and dark grey all the time to help “slim” me. These days, I don’t really think about how others might view me or whether or not a striped-pattern shirt “makes me look fat.”
6. What did you do to find support throughout your journey?
I joined a family of online groups to help me stay connected to others who follow the lifestyle. Eventually, I agreed to be a moderator in those groups and assist others. Helping others identify and achieve their goals keeps me excited about this way of eating, keeps me aware of the latest research, and helps me to understand how very individualized and flexible this way of living can be. I also cultivate friendships in real life and online with others who follow LCHF/keto, and that network of support has been invaluable at times when I needed advice to tweak my own habits.
7. What do you currently do to manage your day-to-day diet?
I keep highly-processed “carb-age” out of my shopping cart, cook and prep on a weekly basis (usually Sundays), fill my plates with protein, vegetables, and dairy, and intermittent fast (18:6) daily. I no longer track macros because I know what to eat, and I eat to satiety.
8. What is your favorite keto recipe from www.ruled.me that’s become a staple?
The Keto Lemon Poppyseed Muffins were one of the first low-carb foods I learned to cook for myself, and that recipe is still my go-to base on all other muffins, no matter what additional ingredients I try. The family also likes the Buffalo Chicken Jalapeno Poppers casserole!
9. If there is one thing that you could do differently during your journey, what would it be and why?
One action I’d take differently would be to supplement electrolytes sooner. I went easily 5 months without attention to that important detail.