Raw and Real
When we started this blog, the goal was to keep it as grounded as possible. "Keeping it real" if you will—be it real estate-, farm-, or us-related. Today, I (Monica) am going to take a break from "real estate" and instead focus on "us". Well, "me" actually. Raw and real. Here goes.
Fighting My Genetics
Like many women and men my age, I have struggled for years with weight. After high school a thousand years ago, I found myself less active, other than what little was achieved by working on my feet all the time: waitressing or dealing cards¹. At some point after moving to North Carolina, I found myself working as a Program Director for a gym. I loved that gym. I lived in that gym. I worked out nearly every day, and buoyed by a really strict diet, kept myself in pretty great shape.
But then I moved.
Falling off the Wagon
After relocating, distance became a factor, and that both ended my fitness career and habit. I.e., I did what most people do when their fitness lives are disrupted. I quit. I quit working out, quit being active in general, and focused on the next phase of my life.
For the next long while I maintained a normal active life: an active life, but not a life focused on me, my health, or my weight. Over time, it got the better of me and I let my lack of fitness get out of control. It wasn't like I ate fast food every day, or desserts, or anything obviously "bad", but I also didn't monitor my health and I certainly didn't eat with any intention.
Disgust, Experimentation, and a Discovery
So, one day I looked up, and was disgusted by what I allowed to happen, and decided enough was enough. For the next several years, I struggled with diet after diet, but then I stumbled upon something called Ketogenic dieting. I'm sure many of you have at least heard of it by now, but let me attempt to describe the basics. It's basically a diet that advocates low carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein, and—brace yourself—high fat! Yes, high fat. I know what you are thinking. How, in all things that are holy, is that even possible! "I've heard of that diet. All you eat is bacon and butter! That's not healthy!" If only! Bacon and butter! Yum. Well . . . no. Let's at least set this aside: a diet of bacon and butter is NOT the ketogenic diet.
Yes, I do eat bacon and butter, but do so only sparingly. I eat high quality meats (lamb, chicken, beef, fish etc), high quality fats (avocados, almonds, the occasional cheese, etc.), and good quality carbs that have a ton of fiber (broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, and a favorite, brussels sprouts). I eat no sugar, breads, pastas, potatoes, rice or the like. But of course, I occasionally cheat. Last Friday I met up with friends and had sushi. It is a perfect food, and I could die a happy woman if I could eat it every day. But, in real life, rice is bad, and sushi is expensive . . . so that spoils that plan! Hrmph!
I can hear it already, I know lots of you will say, "no . . . rice can't be bad. It's rice!" But hear me out. Just 1/2 cup of rice has 22 grams of carbs (with 0 grams of fiber). And most people can easily eat 1 cup or more in a sitting. I eat under 20 grams of net-carbs per day (net is total carbs minus fiber). Most types of rice are quickly digested into sugars that can result in elevated blood sugar levels and lead to an increase in hunger. As one can imagine, this carbohydrate:fiber imbalance extends well beyond rice. The examples I listed above spike insulin levels and increase the pangs of hunger whereas the goal is to feel satiated after a meal, for an extended period of time, not to be hungry again in 2 hours.
This is where ketogenic eating comes in for me. I have struggled for years even when following all the conventional "healthy eating" wisdom. I simply wasn't making any progress. It didn't help that my commitment to healthier eating was often intermittent, but still. Once I heard about "keto" one Friday afternoon, I spent the weekend reading and researching. It was super intriguing. That following Monday, I was ready. I jumped right in—full force!
Frankly, following a more ketogenic diet seems to be quite challenging for a lot of people. But I found it rather easy. Going from a previous diet that most would consider extremely healthy to a ketogenic diet wasn't a giant leap. It became more of a tweak—taking out sugars, potatoes, and bread (diet) and then tracking everything I ate (intentionality).
So, there I was on my new journey; happily chugging along; and guess what? it worked! I lost 7 pounds in the first week. What‽ I couldn't believe it. Then I kept losing. Over the next 8 months I lost 50 pounds in total. Phew! That's a lot! But, it worked, and I did it. Nothing I had ever done before helped me in the way this has helped me.
But that's not all. Sure, I needed to lose weight, but the added benefits I received have been so wonderful. I visited my doctor around the 3-month mark. After a panel of tests, she exclaimed that I was in impeccable health. In fact, my bloodwork had improved dramatically. It read as better than the ideal. We got the same results for my blood pressure. My blood pressure was never overly high, but I now steadily rock a 117/75 (I donate platelets every month, so I am well aware of my BP). My doctor was elated, and encouraged me to "keep doing what you are doing." Clearly I found what works for me.
In addition to all that, some of my more chronic body aches disappeared. I had been struggling with severe back pain for 6 months or more. And, my ankles were sore in the mornings after getting out of bed, and after sitting for super extended periods of time. I'm only 43! I shouldn't feel like that.
Between the change in diet and finally adding collagen powder to my daily routine, all the pain disappeared within 2 weeks. I have better mental clarity and feel more awake during the day as well. As a bonus, I really don't get super hungry anymore. I usually start my day by fasting until noon. And then I limit my meals to two between the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Fasting can be a real benefit, just be sure that if you do it you still eat enough and get all the nutrients your body needs in those two meals.
Imperfection is Okay
Now, I hate to say it, but after those perfectly wonderful 8 months, I stumbled a bit. Paying this much attention to your diet, really is a "lifestyle." I got a bit tired of spending so much time tracking and preparing every meal. I took a break. And that is okay! I decided I was not going to beat myself up over it. Here I am, several months later, and though I did gain a few of those pounds back, I know what works. Back on the wagon I go.
I've been back for a month now, and feel pretty good. New this time around, is that I am also in the gym 3 days a week (typically). I'm back to losing steadily (because I still have a decent amount I want to lose), and feeling great. Cheers! Here's to the next 8 months.
¹ Fun fact. I was a blackjack dealer a lifetime ago on a riverboat casino in Indiana—fun for a while, but not nearly as glamorous as you might expect.