I found myself in a funk. I was overweight by about 50 pounds, could no longer run up stairs, had trouble leaning over to tie my shoes, was exhausted, was depressed, and had a bad case of brain fog. After floundering around, trying to fix all this with medication, yoyo-dieting, and cheating, I finally decided that perhaps a more healthy approach was in order (ya think?!). Something that would support weight loss, but also my life.
My eating habits were built on an endless list of self-talk excuses—It’s a holiday, it’s my birthday, I’m depressed or angry or stressed out, I “deserve” this, everyone else is eating/drinking what they want, I’m at a restaurant, I can’t say ‘no’ at a family gathering, a little bit won’t hurt, this looks SO good, I’m sick of dieting, big loose tops will hide the worst of things...and on and on.
But I finally decided I didn’t like those whiny half-assed excuses—I’m a strong-willed adult woman, dammit. So I got my inner Wonder Woman on…
I love research, so that’s what I did, and decided to follow the Dr. Eades’ Protein Power program. The Atkins program would have worked just as well, but Protein Power was where I finally landed. Buy a book. Work their program honestly. Don’t cheat. Get healthy. Lose weight.
I wanted to (A) have more energy, (B) beef up my immune system, (C) lower my blood sugar and blood pressure, (D) increase my cardiovascular health, (E) combat my allergies, and (F) lose weight…and I did. Here are a few simple tips I used to speed up my metabolism and lose some of the extra baggage I had carried around for much too long.
The good news—the heavier you are, the faster you’ll lose weight…at least until you’re close to your goal weight 🙂
Most important—I heard somewhere, once upon a time, that we don’t change a habit until we decide that the benefits of changing outweigh the benefits of our habit. We calculate everything—even unconsciously—according to cost/benefit ratios. So to lose weight, we must understand that our current habits (and the self-talk excuses that go along with those habits) are unhealthy for us…maybe even killing us…and we must commit to changing and to not cheating. Ever. No excuses. This isn’t easy, it demands taking a VERY strong stance.
WHAT I DO: I take it one meal—or day—at a time. I plan ahead and make grocery lists for the week. I don’t shop hungry. I plan special occasion and holiday meals that keep me in keto…but are still celebratory. I try very hard to not let friends, family, or emotional states derail me. I calculate my macros, then track everything I eat, because otherwise, sadly, I cheat. I keep my net carbs (total carbs – fiber) under 20 grams a day. And I write my weight down on my calendar every Sunday morning because it’s so encouraging to see each week’s number become less and less!
I keep things simple—Breakfast—a keto smoothie. Lunch—a big salad with some protein (egg, chicken, tuna, sausage). Dinner—grilled protein with grilled green veggies (my favorites: chicken breasts, beef, lamb chops, salmon, pork chops and asparagus or zucchini)
Skip the sugar—in all of its forms. Especially liquid calories from any source (soda, fruit juice, alcohol), which store as belly fat. Be on a mission to get high-fructose corn syrup out of your diet (read every single label). Also skip all the foods that convert to sugar (glucose) in your body—fruits, potatoes, grains/rice, and sweet veggies (peas, carrots, orange squash, root veggies). Remember: fruits are nature’s candies. You can carefully add a few of these foods back in after you’ve regained your health and lost the weight…just keep track of your weight—if you gain, you’re overdoing calories and carbs.
WHAT I USE: I use liquid stevia for sweetening but only when I’m within 10 pounds of my weight goals …no sweets while on the straight and narrow. Try my chocolate cheesecake — it makes celebrations VERY special.
Ditch all grains—corn, rice, oats, quinoa, and flours…yes, even whole wheat flour, which converts to sugar in our bodies. Did you know that two slices of whole wheat bread raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar? “Flour” includes noodles/pasta, breaded/dredged meats (McNuggets, anyone?) pretzels, breakfast cereals, tortillas, crackers, pizza, sandwiches, and baked goods (pastries, cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, donuts).
WHAT I USE: Until I’m within 5 pounds of my goal weight, I don’t use any grain substitutes. After that, I mostly use almond flour and coconut flour for baking. For “pasta” I use zero-carb shirataki noodles or vegetable noodles, aka “zoodles”. Some people can add small portions of non-wheat starches back into their diet once they’ve met their weight goals…always add in small increments, keeping an eye on your weight; if you start to gain, back off and eat more carefully.
Start the day strong—Try a keto shake, pasture-raised omega-3 eggs, a tofu scramble, meat-fish-poultry and sautéed veggies, full-fat Greek yogurt.
WHAT I USE: I usually make a raspberry-chocolate keto smoothie for breakfast, because I’m not much of a “eggs in the morning” person. Sometimes on the weekends I’ll make crispy keto waffles, a Minute Muffin, or make a scramble with mushrooms, red bell peppers, and some baby spinach.
Eat enough protein, but not too much—We need enough protein to maintain muscle mass, but if we eat too much it can stall weight loss. Calculate your macros and log your meals. Good keto protein sources: grass-fed meat, free-range poultry, wild-caught fish, seafood from clean waters, organic tofu. Skip all legumes/beans for now.
WHAT I USE: I meet most of my protein needs at lunch and dinner, and go light on protein for breakfast.
Eat less food—use a smaller plate and eat more green veggies to feel full. When eating out, ask for a leftover food container first, and put half the meal inside for another meal tomorrow. You can add fats to to your remaining food (olive oil, butter, avocado oil, slices of avocado).
WHAT I USE: For my biochemistry, I have to keep my calories very low to lose weight. It’s a combo of post-menopause and a rather slow metabolism. Oh well. I use MyFitnessPal’s online food diary and log everything I eat, every day. I know. Sounds like way too much work. But make it a habit, and be honest, and you’ll find where extra calories are sneaking in and sabotaging your weight loss goals.
Add more healthy fats to your diet—Fats aren’t an enemy for most people if you aren’t eating simple carbs. Grass-fed butter and cream, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic coconut and avocado oils? All good. Grass-fed cheese is just fine. A knob of grass-fed butter on top of a steak, or a hunk of grass-fed cheese? Healthy and delicious. And avocados? Heaven.
WHAT I USE: I use extra virgin olive oil, organic coconut and avocado oils, grass-fed butter, and organic lactose-free milk products (I’m sensitive to lactose) from pasture-raised animals to avoid consuming the antibiotics and growth hormones that are added to animal foods. I calculate my macros, log everything I eat, and weigh myself daily (first thing in the morning). I’ve found that eating too many calories from fat or protein stalls my weight loss.
Don’t get hungry, eat snacks—Eat a tablespoon of peanut butter or cream cheese in a celery stick, or a few nuts, a modest chunk of aged grass-fed cheese, or a slice of wild-caught smoked salmon rolled up with grass-fed cream cheese.
WHAT I USE: I don’t usually nibble if I’m trying to lose weight. Piles on the calories too fast. But if my weight is stable, I’ll eat a few almonds (no more than a 1/4 cup per day) or two tablespoons of peanut butter and a dill pickle (it may sound weird, but I love it).
Drink more water—at least eight glasses a day—coffee doesn’t count! Start your morning with a big glass of water with a squeeze of lemon, or some infused-water, which gives your whole system a healthy jumpstart.
WHAT I USE: We have water filter at home and I carry around my personal bottle of filtered water for all-day clean water. I also like Le Croix sparkling water. Please avoid buying bottled water, it’s expensive, killingly hard on the environment, and isn’t necessarily any cleaner than tap water.
Take care of your micronutrients—Many low carb plans encourage the use of multivitamins, probiotics, and Fish oil supplements.
WHAT I USE: I no longer use supplements, instead, I eat 1-1/2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt for my calcium needs, eat salmon and tuna two-three times a week for Omega-3 and Vitamin D, a 1/4 cup of almonds, daily, for my snacks and also for essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and magnesium. A serving of sauerkraut or kosher dill pickles provides a full dose of vitamin C, all of the B vitamins, and essential amino acids, especially lysine and methionine. Miso soup with sea vegetables more than makes up for a multivitamin. Finally, I make sure to fill up on colorful salads, and dinner features colorful vegetables as well.
Go for a walk—it won’t actually burn huge amounts of calories, but it will speed up your metabolism and it *does* pay dividends in joy and flexibility…it simply makes one feel better.
WHAT I USE: I always have a FitBit Flex2 on my wrist or on a chain around my neck. I aim about 7,000 steps every day. If I’m feeling wimpy, I break things up into 15-minute increments. I also have a foldable elliptical machine for heavy rain and snow days, and do slow and easy yoga every morning to stay bendy.
The science—What your body is going to do is stop using carbs for fuel (because it’s not getting many) and switch over to burning fat for fuel (which it has in abundance). Wheeee!! You’ll probably feel under the weather for a few days (and up to a week—tired, cranky, headache-y) because your body is making a big biological change, but then your body will adjust, and you’ll start feeling terrific…and I mean really terrific: your mood will lift, your concentration will increase, you’ll be filled with all kinds of energy, and your skin will clear up. Plus that dang scale will be heading in a southerly direction, which will make you happy and give you motivation.
WHAT I USE: To stay on track and keep motivated, I use MyFitnessPal.com. It’s free, has nutritional /calorie counts for bazillions of foods, and meal tracking. I also take in more salt/potassium during those first few weeks, because this diet packs a big diuretic punch, meaning loss of sodium/potassium (think kosher dill pickle for snacks).
The bottom line—The easiest way to eat this way? Breakfast—a keto smoothie, eggs, full-fat yogurt, or scrambled tofu. Lunch—a big salad (leafy or green vegetables) with some protein (egg, chicken, tuna salad, or tofu). Dinner—a modest portion of protein (meat, eggs, poultry fish, shellfish, tofu, tempeh), with lots of green veggies. You can also read low carb food blogs, like this one for ideas, and if you’re on Facebook, just search for “low carb” and you’ll find plenty of great pages to follow. Remember—keep drinking LOTS of water! Also—tracking your calories will keep you honest and on track.
Good luck. If you fall off that horse, just climb back on … and welcome to your new healthy lifestyle!
NOTE: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis/opinion, or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. “Live long and prosper.”