Since I’ve cleared the two-month hurdle, I finally feel like I’ve been doing it long enough to share a few things that have helped. I’m far from being an expert on nutrition or fitness, I want to tell my story and hopefully motivate others to start taking the right steps toward being healthier.
While it looks like I’m one of those New Years Resolutioners, the lifestyle changes I made in the last two months have been about a year in the making.
Last year, I discovered yoga, which I thought was just a silly thing, until I started practicing. I hoped this would help me lose weight, but I was still eating pretty badly and it didn’t make the impact I was hoping for.
Later in the year, after a good six months of yoga and several months of research, I decided to try the ketogenic diet.
And when I mean try it, I mean go all in, doing it properly, counting calories, tracking carbs, and weighing every piece of food I consume.
If I was going to do it, I was going to do it seriously and not be one of those people who says, “I’m doing keto!” and then eats a ton of berries and other things with enough sugar to kick them right out of ketosis.
Of course, the ketogenic diet isn’t for everyone, and even Johns Hopkins Medicine has some words of caution regarding low-glycemic diets. However, starting out with an extreme diet is making it easier for me to get used to eating less and be able to succeed in a more balanced, flexible diet.
Before we get started, I am all about body positivity, and I do truly believe that beauty comes in any size. I don’t want anyone to feel ashamed as they read this.
For me, it wasn’t a matter of whether I was comfortable in my skin or not, it was a matter that I was undoubtedly overweight to the point that I was putting my health in peril. I am very short, so I don’t have much structure to offset my weight.
1. Acknowledging my ultimate weaknesses and finding substitutes.
You’ve got to know what your weaknesses are and find alternatives so that you can survive making drastic changes to your diet and general lifestyle.
For me, that is sugar. Sweets. Chocolate.
I have this horrible urge to have something sweet after both lunch and dinner. It’s a terrible habit that has been ingrained into me over years of being a little bit overweight. However, in the last three years, I went from being a little overweight to my doctors telling me to hurry up and lose weight, because I’m at the best phase of my life to make long-term changes.
Basically, they told me to start taking care of myself before I get any older. And that I’ll be old soon. Thanks, doc.
They were gentler about it, but that was the gist.
Since I started doing keto, to sate my sugar cravings, I have a carb-free vitamin water after every meal. I usually drink Propel, but I’m also a tree-hugger at heart and burning through two water bottles per day was giving me some serious guilt for being wasteful. I’ve been trying Mio drink enhancers more recently to get my sugar cravings out.
Ultimately, I want to work into not craving sugar so desperately, but it’s one battle at a time.
2. Stick to a schedule — even on the weekends.
I’m a work hard, play hard person in every sense of the word. During the week, I’m all business and productivity, but then the weekend comes and there needs to be a literal fire to get me to check my email. That did happen once, a fire breaking out on one of my days off prompting me to check my work email. But that’s a story for another day.
Then the weekends come. I would eat three meals a day instead of two, indulge in sweets, sometimes just procrastinate and bake cookies instead of writing, enjoy a few glasses of wine or cocktails. Go out to eat way too much because “I deserve it.”
Sure, I might deserve some kind of reward, but it’s not eating 3,000 calories in a day.
It’s hard to keep to a schedule, but do your best with it.
It’s easy to say you’re too busy and break your meal schedule with something high calorie and nutritionally awful, or pull an all-nighter and eat an extra meal, but try to keep your meal schedule steady.
After all, even workaholics need to take care of themselves.
3. Don’t do everything at once.
If you start cutting your caloric intake, working out, and fasting all in the same week, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
It’s too much at once. It makes getting used to every single one of those difficult things even more difficult.
For my first week of keto, I had about 1,600 to 1,800 calories per day to get used to the low carb diet and intermittent fasting. I really struggled with intermittent fasting at first.
Come to the second week, I went down to the 1,200 calories I need to be eating for optimal results within healthy parameters.
I didn’t jump into both keto and a super low-calorie diet because I knew I’d be setting myself up for failure.
After about six weeks of keto, I started doing yoga again. I stopped doing yoga for several months at the end of last year simply because I couldn’t afford to be part of a studio and then I put it off for a bit longer because I knew that trying to do keto, caloric cutting, and working out all at once was a terrible idea.
Several years ago, I started a diet and P90X all in the same week. It’s probably not surprising that I failed that endeavor after two weeks.
4. Do your research and get information from the right sources.
Consistency is important. Maintaining the habits you learn during your diet is incredibly important, as Layne Norton, who holds a PhD in Nutritional Sciences will tell you in his various articles on nutrition.
If you want to do an extreme diet like keto, do all your research, set a timeline for yourself, and then do even more research.
Above that, make sure that you’re getting tips from good sources.
I’m simply telling my story, giving you motivation, and guiding you toward some places where you can find solid information.
When it comes to diets and nutrition, listen to nutritionists and people have solid backgrounds and years of experience researching these matters.
After all, that tabloid article about keto or that listicle on 20 reasons on why keto works most likely were not written by a nutritionist. Get your information from reputable sources.
So far, I’ve lost fifteen pounds, and that’s without counting the water weight I lost.
It could be better, it could be worse. I’ve got another twenty-five to go before I’ve hit my target weight. I know that maintaining my weight after I’ve lost everything will be the true challenge, but I’m really happy to be where I am right now.
I’m also thrilled to report that I do have more energy.
It’s hugely helpful, since I’m chasing a lot of big creative goals, and challenging myself more along the way by doing things like using a standing desk when writing.
It never feels like there are enough hours in the day, but losing some weight and having more energy makes it easier to maximize those hours.