This photo was taken shortly after beginning my Keto journey. I am at far right with my cousins.
My husband has teased me that my obsession with keto is akin to to a cult. In order to be successful in a long-term sustained way of eating, a mind-set must be established. Changing your mind-set can be difficult. My journey was not a teleporter ride, but closer to a 40 year walk in the desert.
From a young age, weight was an issue that came up over and over again. Looking back at my childhood photos, I don’t see an overweight child. Even in my teens, my friends weighed less than I did and looked at me as the overweight friend. Again, looking back at photos I don’t see an overweight teen. This idea that I was overweight blossomed into obesity from my 20s through to today. At my heaviest, on March 29, 2018, I weighed in at 310 pounds. At a doctor’s appointment I was advised that my A1C level had me diagnosed as a diabetic and that my doctor wanted me to start taking medication and seeing a nutritionist. I knew that I was obese, I knew I needed to lose weight, and I even knew how. I had been successful on Atkins about 15 years earlier and had taken off just over 40 pounds. My cholesterol levels had come down, so I was determined that with Atkins, I could bring my glucose under control as well. While on Atkins previously, I allowed the carbs to creep back up and soon they were back full force, and I continued to gain weight. I asked my doctor if I could try getting this under control with diet alone, and she agreed. In the next couple of weeks, I will return to go over my latest blood work and review the effects that my diet has had on my health.
I had heard about Keto, but didn’t give it much thought until I started seeing more and more about it. After my doctor’s appointment, I began to research more about Keto and realized that this way of eating could be far more effective than Atkins. Keto is an abbreviation for a Ketogenic diet. This style of eating changes your primary source of energy from glucose to fat. I learned that fat has a negligible effect on glucose and that fat helps you to feel fuller longer. Delicious whole foods with little effect on blood sugar. I even found research and TED Talks sharing the benefits of Keto and the potential of reversing diabetes. Yes, REVERSING diabetes. As a social service provider, I had seen the horrific effects of the progression of diabetes and I wanted to do whatever I could to avoid this. There was hope. So after the first few days of low-carb eating, I shifted to Keto.
The Keto community seems to have a unique vocabulary so here are a few examples that had me conducting searches to find the definitions. I found an extensive list on the webpage below.
One of the words used extensively was “macros.” Huh? Macros are macronutrients and no matter what style of eating you choose, you eat a combination or ratio of macronutrients including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The Keto style of eating flies in the face of much of what we have been taught in the way of nutrition over many years. This style of eating is an area of high controversy for health advocates across the diverse spectrum of disciplines. It also garners a great deal of press as studies show the effects of “low carbohydrate” diets. The Keto diet was initially developed in the 1920’s as a way of helping children with seizures to reduce the amount of seizures. The side effects included increased mental clarity, better glucose control, weight loss in overweight individuals, and weight maintenance in normal weight individuals.
So, today is the first day of my 22nd week on Keto. My average fasting glucose when I began monitoring was 125, today the average is less than 100. My blood pressure has come down significantly and I will be discussing a change in my medication with my doctor. I had suffered from knee, hip, and back pain. These symptoms have not plagued me, even after an 11-hour drive which would have previously taken me three days to recover from before the pain let up. Swelling in my knees and legs has diminished greatly. I do not struggle with hunger, nor uncontrolled cravings. You notice I haven’t yet mentioned weight loss? All these things are so much more important. I have lost 40 pounds since beginning this way of eating. I feel so much better. Even when dealing with some significant life events that greatly increased stress, I have been able to manage stress far more appropriately than prior to starting Keto.
Keto is not a quick fix, nor is it a fad diet. It requires research, determination, a change of mind-set, and yes, even a bit of obsession. What works well for one person, does not not necessarily work for another. Health conditions need to be discussed and treated under the care of a physician. Sometimes, doctors and other health professionals are reluctant or even deeply concerned about the Ketogenic lifestyle. This goes as far as warning about ketoacidosis (a life threatening condition in Type 1 Diabetics). Being equipped with research and being knowledgeable about the benefits and drawbacks can help to further communication and build understanding. One thing that stands out to me is that the current dietary recommendations for diabetes only “manage” the condition. Keto has reversed diabetes. Of course, if I revert to my old way of eating, diabetes will only return full force and continue the downward trend and require increasingly drastic medication and management. So far, I have been happy with the results. I hope my doctor sees improvements, and even if she is reticent about Keto, will allow me to maintain this new way of life. I guess I am a Keto-Evangelist.