Taking a break from my #readerswhowrite posts to do a personal entry. At the beginning of the month, I started eating a ketogenic diet (low carb, moderate protein, high fat). My main goals are weight loss and digestive stabilization. I decided it was time to take some more action on getting healthier. I’m starting to have increased joint pain, decreased endurance, and some other issues that I associate with my weight. I have no target weight. I just want to be in less pain and be able to move easier. It takes a lot of effort to lift my body up a flight of stairs. I’m so tired of stairs being a chore.
I’ve tried keto once before. I lost about 20 pounds but then stopped. I can’t remember why. I remember keto being a struggle, but this time my partner is doing a lot of the heavy lifting. They made most of my meals the first week, including breakfast and lunch to take to work. They’ve also done most of the grocery shopping. While we don’t necessarily eat the same things, they’re also eating low carb, so there are no desserts sitting around the house taunting me. It’s made a world of difference to feel like we’re in this together.
My partner also gamified weight loss based on how I stay motivated (basically, I respond better to instant gratification). We made a chart to record each week’s progress, and then every four weeks has a goal with reward if met. The rewards are not food related (except for Halloween). They’re things like trying a new foundation, dyeing my hair, having a spa day, and getting a thick cable knit sweater, the kind I’ve been wanting for a few years but didn’t want to spend the money to buy. Nothing that is truly important or necessary. I don’t want to say “a new pair of work slacks” because if I don’t meet my goal then, what? I’m going to wear worn out pants to work? Um, no. All rewards will be nice “extras” that I will enjoy getting but won’t be penalized for not having.
Today is only day 9 of eating ketogenically. I had multiple reasons to feel crappy that first week, such as being super cold in our house while it was out of power and having to wake up earlier than normal the entire week because I was carpooling to work, so I don’t attribute any pain in that first week to the new way of eating. I had mad sugar cravings, but I would eat a healthy fat when they became distracting and that would help to take the edge off. Sometimes I’d drink a Cherry Coke Zero, but non-sugar sweeteners don’t really satisfy my sweet tooth.
I did start to get some increased muscle pain on day 6. Day 7 was pretty damn awful. My neck, shoulders, pecs, and back (all sections) were in a lot of pain. Moving my left arm to shoulder level was super tight and painful. Sort of crunchy feeling. My partner gave me an awesome massage before I took a warm shower and that eased a lot of it up. What I found interesting is that the same day I had so much muscle pain, my sugar cravings diminished. They’re not gone altogether, but they’re a lot better than the first 5 days. According to the keto pee sticks we have, I’ve been in ketosis since at least day 3, but it took until day 8 for me to get into the swing of things.
I think my expectations are pretty realistic. I plan on eating this way at least through fall, maybe longer. I don’t plan on avoiding all carbs during the holidays, but my goal will be to have one or two days of holiday food, not an entire month of holiday grazing. Maybe a week if the carbs don’t make me feel crappy. While a lot of people who do keto say that they have a lot of energy once they’re keto-adapted, I don’t have any expectations in that regard. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice, but I have never been an energetic person, even when I wasn’t overweight. I don’t expect keto to push me past my normal.
I’ve been getting the majority of my carbs from whole veggies like broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, and spinach. I made the mistake the first day of eating way too many salad greens with my protein. Not a mistake from a keto perspective but from a gastroparesis perspective. I’ve learned to moderate my leafy green intake, and my stomach hasn’t been protesting as much (although it’s still not sold on nuts). GI issues have been better in general. The biggest change is with my IBS. The flatulence and related abdominal pain have decreased dramatically. I’d forgotten just how much of a difference cutting wheat out of my diet makes. I know it’s not the most enjoyable topic, but it’s big “quality of life” improvement for me.
I’ll check back in after another week or two. See if I’m still going strong.