Have you ever walked down the hall and felt your cheeks move in time with your steps? Or have you been extremely self-conscious of the double chin that is starting to show a bit more prominently under your dancing cheeks? Yeah, that’s where I am right now. This is the post that is starting me onto my new journey. This will be the last time I say that I’m starting a new diet. Want to know why? I’m not on a diet. I’ve decided. I’m going to start being more intentional in how I eat, what I eat, when I eat, what activities I do, and how much sleep I will try to get. Please join me as I document this journey from fat mom to fit mom while using an intentional mindset along with a Keto lifestyle.
Before you Start a Keto “Diet”
First thing first – This post will not be to go down into the weeds explaining what you can and shouldn’t eat, or the best ways to get into ketosis quickly. That will come in a later post.
This is meant to be your foundation. Keep reading this to discover more about how to start changing the relationship you have with food. How to start channeling your angst about giving up sugar and discovering why that is so difficult.
Once you start being able to understand more about your relationship with food as well as little ways you can start changing your thinking and reactions to situations around food, the more you will be able to build a stronger and healthier connection between your brain, your body, and the food that you place in your mouth.
What is Keto: An Explanation for Beginners
Keto is short for Ketosis. *Not to be confused with the dangerous condition Ketoacidosis.* Keto is a very natural state for your body where its using your fat stores for fuel due to a lack of carbs being consumed.
Think about that for a second. Your body is using the fat in your system, digging it out of its hiding place, throwing it in a fire and burning it to use as your new energy source. Doesn’t that sound awesome?! Makes you want to start laughing like a villain.
I don’t know about you, but the visualizations that just went through my head made my eyes and heart very happy.
On a normal standard diet, your body uses carbs and sugar as it’s batteries for energy. When your batteries start to go low, your brain demands a refill. Queue the cravings for more carbs and sugar.
Unfortunately, the sugar and carbs are not a long lasting energy source so your brain seems to always want to a refill, or a charge.
What Your Body Does Naturally While in a State of Ketosis:
The body is using the fat that you eat and the fat that has been stored away; this process keeps you satisfied and less hungry for far longer than if you were eating tons of carbs.
When you eat carbs, your blood sugar spikes. This tells your body, “hey, I have enough energy now, thanks!” With this shout out, the body goes back to primal times of starvation and starts storing any excess energy – a.k.a., FAT, for when a food shortage comes and it can dig into these storage areas. This causes the excess body weight.
Once the spike in blood sugar goes down, our bodies are now liking this “easy” energy source and start demanding more. This is when a signal goes to our brains that tells us it’s time to eat again. The cycle is continuous and vicious.
Now, when a body is functioning on lower carbs, the conversation goes a bit different. “Um, guys? There’s no sugar?! Oh, boy. Troops! You know what to do! Dig into those fat stores and start building me some energy!”
These troops are the ones you want on your side. They are the ones that will first notice that your blood sugar is staying even, and will start realizing very quickly that the storage sheds of fat within the body are now fair game to be utilized in the way they were originally intended. As energy. And we all said, “hallelujah”.
My Turning Point
Everyone has that moment. The moment that turns you on your axis and switches your focus. Your brain tells you, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
Mine came in a surprising and of course, not so fun way. Turning points are typically not a fun occurrence.
I was walking down the hall at work and I felt the strangest sensation. My cheeks were moving… In time with my steps…
What the actual hell. This is not going to work.
Then I started humming the ditty “Do Your Ears Hang Low”, but I started making up words for myself.
Does your chin hang low;
Does it wobble to-and-fro?
Can you tuck it in your shirt;
Can it dance the macarena?
Can you toss it on your shoulder –
Like a lump of mascarpone?
Does your chin hang low?
I do not want a macarena dancing chin. I would prefer that my chin, and cheeks for that matter, did not know what a dance even was.
This crap stops now.
How Did I Get to This Point with My Weight
To introduce myself, and to share, more than likely way too much information throughout this post, I’ve been overweight my WHOLE life. Well, I remember at around 4 being pretty normal?
I had never really thought anything of it until around the time that I was around six or seven! My brother had a friend over to the house to play, and this friend of his told me that I would be pretty cute if I wasn’t so chubby.
I look back at my picture from during that time, and my heart just breaks for that little girl. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her. But, did she know that? Nope. All I knew at that time, is that apparently, I was chubby, and I could have been pretty except for my weight.
Even now at 40 years of age, I cringe thinking of that statement. It still sticks and I still think it.
Weight Loss Surgery Was My Answer
I ballooned up over the years and topped out at 290 by the time I was 33. This was of course after losing and gaining 100 pounds a couple of times.
I did my research and ended up getting bariatric surgery. The specific procedure I had was the Gastric Bypass or the Roux-en-Y. I had most of my stomach sectioned off, which basically made it so that I would not be able to eat as much.
It worked wonderfully! I dropped over 100lbs in just a year, and I got down to my all-time low of 145 eventually. To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement.
Unfortunately, like I always did I allowed myself just little treats. Those little treats would build up and over time, I was back at 180.
I decided then that I would start creating my family. In order to see my story on that, you can see my post here!
Four years and two kids later, and even more treats and quick carb-rich meals and now I am up to a whopping 220lbs.
I’ve also developed an uncommon side effect of the Bariatric surgery called Reactive Hypoglycemia. Mayo Clinic defines this as “low blood sugar that occurs after a meal”
In a nutshell, if I have a high carb meal or a treat with too much sugar (such as a Snicker bar), then my blood sugar will tank faster than an 8 ball when I play pool.
It’s not fun, definitely not healthy, and can be dangerous. I must be extremely careful to ensure I have enough protein around those meals or snacks to counteract the effects of the carbs and straight sugar.
Haven’t You Tried Keto Before?
I’m so glad you asked! I have actually been on Keto before.
I had never felt so good, so full, or so in control. I never once had to worry about my blood sugar dropping and I didn’t need as much sleep to feel wonderful.
This bliss period lasted for 3 months. Why is it that something that makes you feel so good, can also be so easy to abandon?
I was not in the right mindset to change my life. I was thinking of it as a diet. That my first and biggest mistake.
When you are on a very “restrictive” way of eating such as Keto, you must go into it thinking of it being a lifestyle. It has to be something that you can follow and stick with.
This is not to say that I plan on being completely perfect. I am so far from perfect. This is part of the mindset strategy I’m embracing and sharing.
If I go into this new lifestyle knowing that I will not be perfect everyday or every meal, and instead do the very best I can, this will be the change for me.
This lifestyle is not about perfection. It’s about getting healthier, feeling better, and winning your life back.
Keto is All or Nothing
Well, no. No, it’s not. I am following the Jodi-Keto plan. This allows me to modify the Keto “diet” to what works for me and allows me success in the long run. My hope is that some of my trials, experiments, successes, and failures will inspire others and we can cheer each other on, like little pom-pom holding Keto-leaders.
If I look at it as I am all in or I am all out, I’ve already failed.
Some will most definitely look at my posts and say, “but you are not doing Keto, you’re on low carb”. Ok. Call it anything you like. I call it Keto for ease of wording, you call it Ke-tato.
In my version, I’m going to have moments when I give in and have a bite of cookie, or let’s be honest, the whole damn cookie.
So, what has changed for me this time? That cookie may use up all and then some of my daily allotment of carbs, but if I know going in that I will not be perfect, with an adjusted mindset, I can complete out the day with only having had the cookie, and not the cookie and the entire kitchen cupboard of Twinkies and chips.
With all of that said, this does not mean that I will not strive to be as “on plan” as possible. It only means that I will give myself some grace and not expect every day to be a macro-rific day.
Determine Your Why
Now that I have completely derailed this post with stories and mindset strategies, let’s move on to the guts.
Why do you want to lose weight? Why have you chosen Keto as what you are wanting to utilize to lose the weight? Or are you using Keto for health reasons and not only for weight loss?
· Why I Will Lose Weight with Keto – Reason Number 1
My why is multi-faceted. I have two children and I’m their only parent. This is a HUGE reason for me to want to be healthy. I usually don’t want to do any activities with them as I’m always so tired. This is, in part, due to the fact that I also have an autoimmune issue called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which can make one sluggish along with a multitude of other issues.
I cannot blame my sluggishness or exhaustion only on the hypothyroid disease, however. Most of it is on the foods I ingest, the sheer amount of Diet Pepsi I drink and the lack of exercise I get.
My boys deserve so much more from me than a mom who sits on the sidelines while they go out and play. They deserve the mom that runs right along with them and not just because they have escaped in the supermarket.
· Why I Will Lose Weight with Keto – Reason Number 2
A secondary “why” I’ve determined to start a keto diet is my mental health. I suffer from anxiety and can be prone to depression on occasion. I currently take anxiety medication and can still get break-through anxiety. The Keto diet has been shown to alleviate anxiety through the use of diet changes.
Eating a Keto diet can increase your gut health and reduce inflammation in your body as well. When eating low-carb, your brain gets “happy”. Keto assists in releasing more Serotonin which is the “happy” hormone according to this Health.com article
If I can reduce the inflammation-causing pain which increases my anxiety, and have a side-benefit of being even happier? Hell, yeah! Sign me up!
· Why I Will lose Weight with Keto – Reason Number 3
Above I mentioned how I have these little things going on with me:
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Reactive Hypoglycemia
But I also have IBS. This stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Although Irritably Bitchy Syndrome also seems to fit during a flare-up.
Having IBS means I have an increased sensitivity to certain foods. Unfortunately for me, my body can’t make up its mind as to what it finds irritating.
What it has decided, however, is that it universally does not like carbs or sugar. My obsessive-compulsive, sugar and carb addicted brain loves them. My stomach? Not so much.
The times when I have done the “all-in” Keto diet, it has so drastically improved my stomach, that life was completely different.
If that’s the case, why didn’t I stay on it? Why would I put myself through the pain of daily stomach pain, sometimes debilitating?
I hit on it a little above. There are two main parts.
1. Sugar is Very Addicting
According to an article I read in Heathline.com: sugar can be just as addictive as cocaine.
I have always been completely against taking drugs. I know I have an addictive personality from the way I always crave sugar and pop, but I’d never likened my sugar addiction to being like a drug addict on cocaine. What a game-changer.
It does not excuse the addiction, and it does not make it any better. What it does do is help me understand what is going on in my brain a little more.
The difference between being addicted to sugar or even food or being addicted to a drug: it’s not realistic to stop eating.
It’s hard enough for addicts to stop their drug of choice, but technically and biologically speaking, after they’ve gone through the worst of their withdrawals from drugs, they no longer NEED to take them, or they’ll die, although I’ve heard it can feel that way.
I’m not saying that someone can’t live without performing the physical act of eating. There is always blending food or living off protein shakes. For most, though this is just simply not realistic and not really advised.
This helps me, however, to better understand why I sometimes get a shaky panicky feeling when I CAN’T have that chocolate bar. I become this growly bear with bared teeth and snarl, and heaven help the poor individual near me at that period of time.
Now that I can understand why my brain is so set against giving up sugar, it will help me get through the first couple of weeks that will absolutely be the hardest of Keto. Mindset is going to play a huge part in this whole entire journey to a less-hearty version of a healthier me.
When I am no longer telling myself that I CAN’T have that chocolate bar, and instead change my thinking to “I can have that chocolate bar, but the bar is Keto friendly”. (And yes, there is such a thing, and the flavors are glorious! You can find it on Amazon Here, or even in a lot of grocery stores now!)
The other shift I will make is knowing that the thought I have: “I CAN’T EVER HAVE ANY OF THE THINGS EVER AGAIN”. Remember what I said earlier about the all or nothing mentality?
That is so detrimental to this journey, or any other.
The human being is built exquisitely perfect in its imperfection. That includes thoughts. It goes back to telling yourself that you can’t do something, that is the ONLY thing you want to do.
Reword The “Can’t” Statements:
See below for my alternatives to one of my common CAN’T statements –
–I can’t have pizza.
- I can have pizza with the family, I’ll just make it with a substitute crust such as flatbread, low-carb tortilla, or fat-head dough, etc., and it’ll taste just as awesome.
- I’ll just take the toppings off and leave the crust. The best part of pizza is the crazy toppings!
- We’ll just go to a pizza place that sells Keto friendly pizza too! (yes, they exist!)
- I will plan to have a meal higher in carbs and enjoy a piece.
That last option is also wonderful. Just notice that in this shift, it’s a higher carb meal. Try not to go off the rails the entire day. If you do? Eh, just get right back on tomorrow. This is your LIFE. Do not let your worth be determined by your definition of perfect.
We are not perfect. We’ve never been perfect. Let’s not ruin the streak now by trying to change our race!
Fat is satiating and good for you
The wonderful thing about Keto? Keto’s a wonderful thing! (did you just picture Tigger jumping all around singing that, too?) On Keto you can Eat All The Fats! Did you know that during the last couple of decades when we’ve been told that “fat is bad” “eating no-fat or low-fat foods are best” that it’s not been entirely accurate?
During recent research, we are learning that diets higher fat are actually healthy and becoming more encouraged. More fat in your diet will encourage better skin and hair. It also has a most glorious benefit of keeping someone fuller longer and can actually reduce cravings for the higher carb foods.
See Fox News – they touted a study where it was shown that eating higher fat and lower carbs allowed more weight loss against the second group that was following a low-fat diet with no more than 7% of the fat coming from their daily intake of calories.
Think of it this way: If you can increase how much fat you eat, which makes you more full, which causes you to eat less, which causes you to lose weight, while at the same time increasing energy, AND gives you a happy hormone, wouldn’t you vote for more fat?
Don’t Worry About Macros When Starting Keto: Focus on the Number of Carbs
Speaking of percentages of fat compared to the amount of your daily diet, don’t worry about it. No, seriously. Keep track of it, yes – (wonderful site to determine your macros: Determine your macros: Keto Macro Calculator. But, and I will stress this, DO NOT WORRY ABOUT YOUR MACROS IN THE BEGINNING. When you are first starting the Keto diet, concentrate on hitting roughly 20 net carbs per day.
What are Macros?
Macros, or macronutrients, in a very basic explanation are the fats, carbs, and proteins that you eat. When you are counting “macros” on the Keto diet, it is recommended to adhere to the following structure with the following macro structure.
- Carbs: 5-10% of calories come from carbohydrates (net carbs)
- Protein: 15-30% of calories come from protein
- Fat: 60-75% of calories come from fats
Net Carbs are carbs that are digested by your body. Some enjoy the Keto diet with sticking with the total number of carbs, and some use the “Net Carbs” of a food. This is a personal choice and what feels best for you and what is more feasible for your lifestyle.
You can determine the Net Carbs in a food with this math equation:
– grams of fiber
– sugar alcohols
= net carbs
Why Don’t You Care About Macros When Starting Keto?
There are a few things that you are already fighting at the beginning of starting your Keto journey without adding the confusion and frustration of counting macros into the mix.
- Keto Flu – this will be strongest in the first week but can last a few weeks. The symptoms of the Keto flu are as follows:
- Feelings of dizziness
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling more tired than normal
- Craving ALL the things
- Cramps in muscles
Why do you have to suffer through the Keto Flu? Unfortunately, our bodies are quite simply used to functioning on sugar. When you take away the sugar, not only are you going through the withdrawal symptoms, but your body is also having to adjust and rethink its strategy to keep you moving. This is when your body starts tapping into your fat storage instead of using the incoming sugars for energy. (YAY!)
Although the body is made for running on lower carbs, we as a society, have not allowed our bodies to do this for many decades if not longer.
The good news is there is a way to help this.
- Add salt to your foods. When your body is adjusting to fewer carbs, the Kidneys release excess sodium (per this article from Healthline). This causes a deficiency of your sodium levels and until replenished, you’ll feel like crap. I also like to warm up a cup of chicken or beef broth and drink that. It’s got great levels of sodium and potassium and it has the added benefit of tasting great and being low in carbs.
- Add electrolytes. Due to the release of excess fluid as you are transitioning to a state of ketosis, your body will be losing essential minerals. This can be replaced by eating more foods rich in Magnesium, Sodium, and Potassium. I personally like to drink Powerade Zero or some other sort of Electrolyte infused water or sugar-free drink. They are extremely helpful in allowing your body to battle Keto flu as well as keep your electrolytes nice and balanced.
- This isn’t only just to sleep past the symptoms either. Sleep allows your body a chance at healing. Plus, as an adult, I’ll take any excuse for a nap when I can get one.
- Don’t starve yourself. This goes back to the advice of not worrying about your macros in the beginning. At this point, eating fat and keeping yourself feeling satiated is your best friend. Again, aim for a total of 20 net carbs a day. Stressing over macros can come later when you are not going through the Keto flu or withdrawals from sugar.
Complete Change of Nutritional Intake
Yet another thing that you are fighting in the beginning when starting Keto is learning to completely change what you are eating. You will be eating around 20 net carbs a day, which is an extreme change from eating a standard diet that consists of more than 225 carbs a day according to Mayo Clinic.
That is a lot of damn carbs. And yep, I would definitely hit that number if not more on a daily basis.
If you consider the fact that your body is used to being able to use the energy from the 225+ carbs you are accustomed to feeding it to all of a sudden having to perform the same functions on 20 net carbs? Your body and head are gonna get a tad bit testy with you while it’s transitioning to gobbling up those fat stores that you’ve been hoarding.
Cravings, Cravings, Cravings
Have you seen that episode of The Brady Bunch, when Jan gets a little fed up with Marsha and her iconic line is “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” This will be your body on cravings.
As it’s transitioning from running on easily obtained carbs running amok to now having to start mining the lost stores of fat-city in your body, the body will send signals to your brain that something seems to be different.
Your brain, in turn, will start panicking and yelling “battle stations!”.
Then come the cravings.
The first couple of weeks of cravings is going to absolutely be the hardest. The great news is that once again, adding salt, eating fat, and either making a Keto friendly dessert or even buying a Keto friendly dessert will be very helpful.
Non-processed foods are definitely the preference and focus with the Keto Police, but while you are getting pushed into the shallow end of the ketosis pool, sometimes you need something to keep you grounded. I personally love Lily’s Chocolate Bars, for this reason. They have saved me when it comes to these cravings!
Benefits of Keto
I will tout the many benefits of Keto and the state of being in ketosis more in-depth in a separate post, but in order to assure you that the first couple of weeks are completely worth it besides the obvious benefit of weight loss, here are 3 additional benefits. Assistance from the Medical News Today website
- Assists in brain function. Did you know that they use this diet to help individuals battle epilepsy? There are also some studies that point to this lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Assists in balancing hormones. Especially helpful for women with PCOS. (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) I’ve actually known of a few women who’ve had a dramatic lessening of PCOS symptoms by following a low-carb lifestyle.
- Stabilized Blood Sugar. Insulin can completely get out of control when there is a constant intake of sugar and carbs, which in turn will raise and lower blood sugars. When you are in a state of ketosis, and taking in mostly fats and proteins, your insulin is able to stay more stable, which can assist in reversing diabetes and pre-diabetes. It also has a side benefit of allowing you to not feel as hungry when the blood sugars are controlled. Win-win!
Keep it Simple
Do you know that old adage, Keep it Simple Stupid or KISS? Very true for Keto as well. Especially in the beginning. Don’t make all the changes all at once. This is too confusing, frustrating, and at times not realistic. It can also be very expensive.
Don’t empty out your fridge of produce or dairy or meats simply because they are not organic or non-GMO. Use what you have, and gradually switch them out IF YOU WANT TO. It is not a necessity to eat completely organic, or completely clean. This is YOUR Keto lifestyle journey. Adapt it to you and what works for you in the long run.
I love to shop at Aldi’s and Walmart. They have great selections, but I will still usually go for the cheaper option with the lowest amount of carbs I can find.
If organic is on sale and comparable to what I was going to buy, then sure, I’ll get that instead. I just wouldn’t go out of my way to get the organic option if my budget would scream because of it.
So, the KISS Method…keep it as simple as possible in the beginning and get through the initial – not so fun part of transitioning into ketosis.
Find a Community When Starting Keto
This part IS fun! I never knew so much about Keto or the benefits of being ketosis until I started joining the Keto community online. There are so many different media’s you can join and get such wonderful ideas and tips.
My favorite is Instagram. There is a HUGE community of Keto’ers on Instagram. You can use a personal account, or as a lot of individuals do, create an account just for your Keto Lifestyle.
I have my Instagram account as @jodi_keto; come look me up! I am currently set as a private account – unfortunately, due to spammers – but just let me know you found me from this post, and I’ll get you accepted lickety-split!
I can’t say enough great things about the supportive and helpful nature of the Keto community. You don’t have to do it alone. Get support and encouragement from the ones who have been there and gone through the things you are going through. It helps so much.
YouTube is another huge support. There is so much information within the Keto community that is shared on YouTube that you can be inundated with almost too much information.
My Favorite YouTube Channels for Keto
To provide a good start and to not make you just go out and search Keto when you are first starting, I will share the most helpful channels I’ve found so far on YouTube.
Carisa (also a great Instagram account)
Instagram and YouTube both are wonderful avenues to try for support, recipes and questions about pretty much anything.
In this post, I hope I’ve shared enough of an incentive to starting Keto with the right Mindset, and a helpful foundation to forge past the first few weeks of transition.
I’m in this journey with you, so if you have any questions, or anything to add to what I’ve written please comment below.
Don’t forget that each journey is different. Embrace your differences and tweak the journey to fit. I hope you keep coming back to see more inspiration for the Keto journey!
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