Some of you who have seen me lately, know that I’ve made some dramatic changes in my lifestyle, specially with how I eat, but also getting serious about how I exercise.
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A year ago, in May, I hired one of the my daughters, who is a personal fitness trainer, to help me exercise in a way that would help prevent injuries and enable me to make progress in my strength and cardio fitness. She has done an amazing job, helping me circumnavigate any problems that came up along the way, including shin splints and ankle injuries. I can’t begin to describe how much it helps to have someone who is trained and knows how to help you with your own specific needs, and who pushes you to try new things.
The physical training has been wonderfully helpful, but it didn’t really move the scale for me and I knew that in order for me to get truly healthy the way I want to be, I needed to drop excess weight.
Please note: I am not here to tell anyone else how to fix their problems or to put a label on anyone else’s lifestyle. This is a very personal journey, and I think people have to seek and pray about their own options. This is just a chronicle of my journey this past year or so.
The other thing I was wrestling with was an ever increasing level of inflammation throughout my body. I wrestled with ankle swelling, in spite of my diligence with exercise. I had pain in all my joints, including my hands and back. On top of all this, I was actually gaining more weight. I was taking any and every supplement that I could find that was supposed to help with pain and inflammation, with minimal results. The only ones that actually helped were the Terry Naturally brand of curcumin extract supplements.
I finally realized/accepted that there was no way I could supplement myself out of the problems my body was having, and I started looking more carefully at how what we eat impacts our bodies. I read Anyway You Can, by Annette Bosworth, MD, and The Keto Continuum, also by her, and found her YouTube channel. Wow. That really made me stop and think about how carbohydrates can trigger an insulin release in the body and contribute to a whole cascade of problems from storing fat, to chronic autoimmune conditions, to severe impacts on the gut microbiome.
Then I heard an interview with Benjamin Bickman, who specializes in metabolism research, and and found his book, Why We Get Sick, and realized even more what kind of damage I had been inflicting on my body through over-indulgence in carbohydrate foods.
These two sources are what persuaded me to give a ketogenic lifestyle another try. I was so much more informed about how to go about this now compared to the keto-for-cancer phase back in May of 2020, during the “maybe this mass is cancer and not an old fibroid” time that I went through. (Did I blog about that? I don’t remember.)
Long story short, in December 2021, I began eating a “clean” keto diet in accordance with what Dr. Eric Berg teaches on his YouTube channel, and I began to see huge improvements in my health. My knees and joints stopped hurting, and I stopped gaining weight. I even lost some weight for a while. I saw remarkable improvement in my physical abilities at the gym and in everyday life. I suddenly felt like I had more room in my brain to think. I felt less desperate for mental space when I had to spend an extended period of time with other people. It was a huge blessing.
But the weight-loss stalled, and I still battle skin rashes, especially in consequence of insect bites. Over time I have reduced my carbohydrate consumption more and more, because I find that I continue to see more benefits, the more careful I am about that.
In The Keto Continuum, Dr. Boz says that for people dealing with autoimmune issues or stubborn skin problems, they need to try to eliminate all carbs and plant sources in order to allow the “leaky gut” to heal, and that this can take a significantly long time to happen, but that the results are pretty quickly seen when you do it. I really didn’t want to do it.
Remember from way back? In an effort to improve my health, I have been raw food vegan, regular vegan, and lacto-ovo vegetarian, and not for just a few weeks. I did some version of vegetarian lifestyle for at least two years. It’s been a challenge to accept the idea that plants are not treating my body well. It’s been difficult for me to come to grips with the fact that a plant’s natural defensive chemistry causes my body to react in an extreme way that makes me sick.
But along this journey I found Dr. Anthony Chafee’s YouTube channel, and Dr. Shawn Baker’s YouTube channel, and The Steak and Butter Gal’s YouTube channel, and I have listened to the stories of so many people who have battled even worse situations than I have and I am realizing that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be the end of the world if I need to eliminate plant-based food (even stevia!).
This is not a socially convenient lifestyle in many ways, but the improvement I’ve seen so far on this journey makes it worth it. And honestly, it’s simplified grocery shopping and cooking.
Don’t look to me for any tips about how to do this when you are feeding a family of non-keto or carnivore people. I don’t know. I think it would be difficult. There are YouTube channels and social media groups that can help you with that situation.
So in short, I’ve been keto since before Christmas and I’m becoming more and more carnivore, and part of my brain still thinks that sounds gross, but I’m feeling so much better, that I’ll get over that little cringe.
Today is my first day of no sweetener of any kind and based on what I’m seeing on my continuous glucose monitor, it really does make a difference. It will be fun to see where this journey takes me.
As far as how this lifestyle will work with me serving a mission for my church, I was clear on my application papers that I need to be able to prepare my own food, specifically because I’m allergic to corn and all corn products and byproducts, but also because of my need to restrict carbohydrates. Hopefully therefore, it won’t really be an issue.
Honestly though, there’s another psychological/moral/religious challenge that I am dealing with, and it’s the cognitive dissonance resulting from my church’s teachings about our dietary code. We call it the Word of Wisdom, and at its most basic, it prohibits coffee, tea from the tea plant, tobacco, and improper or illegal use of drugs. But more broadly, it also talks about limiting meat consumption, and the importance of eating plants in season. I don’t know how to make my new way of eating match up with all that. I’m just going to trust Jesus to stand in that breach for me. I just know that in order for me to be healthy and able to love and serve others, this is what my body requires of me.
I feel so much better now that I can’t see myself ever going back to my old ways of eating again. I may feel like an ostrich among swans sometimes, but it’s worth it to me.
Until next time, all the love. 💕