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 decided I’m not a weak 6 year-old with a string of 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. Lose weight. Get healthy.
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 wimpy 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 track everything I eat, because otherwise I nibble myself into cheating. I keep my net carbs (total carbs – fiber) under 30 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!
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 Swerve and 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 substitutes. After that, I mostly use almond flour and coconut flour for baking. For “pasta” I use zero-carb shirataki noodles or vegetable noodles. 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 with protein—Try pasture-raised omega-3 eggs, a protein shake, a tofu scramble, meat-fish-poultry and sautéed veggies, full-fat Greek yogurt.
WHAT I USE: I use non-gmo, organic, grass-fed whey protein powder or low-carb vegan pea protein (Orgain) for my morning smoothies, or make a quick Minute Muffin with nut flours and an organic free-range egg, or saute mushrooms, red bell peppers, some green veggies and a protein of some sort, or a cup-and-a-half of full-fat Greek yogurt.
Have protein with every meal—try nuts like peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, or pecans… or have grass-fed meat, free-range poultry, wild-caught fish, seafood from clean waters, organic tofu, or a veggie-meat (watch the carbs; read labels). Skip all legumes/beans for now.
WHAT I USE: I eat almonds daily, but no more than a 1/4-cup total.
Eat less food—use a smaller plate, and eat more 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, sour cream).
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 boring. 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 if you aren’t eating simple carbs. Grass-fed butter and cream, organic extra virgin olive oil, and organic coconut oil? 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.
WHAT I USE: I use grass-fed butter and organic milk products from pasture-raised animals to avoid consuming the antibiotics and growth hormones that are added to animal foods. That said, I actually don’t eat as much fat as some keto folks do. It all depends on your personal metabolism. I figured out mine by logging everything I eat and weighing myself daily (first thing in the morning) and found that eating too many calories and a lot of fat stalled my weight loss. You mileage will vary.
Don’t get hungry, eat snacks—have a tablespoon of peanut butter or cream cheese in a celery stick, or a few nuts, a modest chunk of grass-fed cheese, or a slice of wild-caught smoked salmon rolled up with grass-fed cream cheese.
WHAT I USE: I usually nibble on 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 Cascade Ice Organic Citrus sparkling water. Please avoid buying bottled water, it’s expensive, terribly 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 *does* pay dividends in joy and flexibility.
WHAT I USE: I have friends who swear by FitBit, but I’m not fond of things on my wrists. I just walk for an hour every day. If I’m feeling wimpy, I break things up into 15-minute increments. I also have Tai Chi and yoga DVDs, and an exercise cycle for rainy days.
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 week or two (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, and you’ll be filled with all kinds of energy. 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 snacks).
The bottom line—The easiest way to eat this way? Breakfast—a protein 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 mixed 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.”