Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Keto Khronicles: April 2017 - When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Keep Going

Hey, all! Long time no talk! I know I've said it before, but it's been really hard to find the time to sit down and write a blog post lately. I do stay pretty active on social media since that's easier to do on the go. Plus I have honestly been struggling a bit. Not with staying on track or thinking of going back to who I used to be. I will never go back to that person. But, as I mentioned in my previous Keto Khronicles post, I've been plateaued for a while. The stall, the wall, the plateau. No matter what you call it, it sucks. If you follow me on social media you probably know that I finally broke that plateau a couple weeks ago and officially surpassed my halfway point. That felt amazing! What didn't feel amazing is when I stepped on the scale the following Wednesday (April 5th) and had "gained" 7.6 pounds in less than a week. Yes, that really happened. I tried not to let it bother me because I KNOW the scale lies, but I would be lying if I said it didn't affect me. It's not the time of the month that I should be retaining water so it definitely took me by surprise. But wallowing in it isn't going to accomplish anything. Eating crappy carbage sure wouldn't accomplish anything. And I wasn't tempted to eat crap, at all. I have changed mentally and going backwards doesn't cross my mind. That me was in a dark, depressing hole. It was a scary place and I don't ever want to visit there again.  All that being said, when you still have over 100 pounds to lose and it's been over 2 months without any significant loss on the scale, it does make you wonder what you're doing wrong. Especially when you see all the success stories of people who have lost 140 lbs in 10-12 months. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for those people. Super happy. I know how amazing they feel. And I am proud of how far I've come, but I am still extremely overweight. I still weigh more than a lot of people do when they start. To think this is going so slowly and it feeling like it may take me 5-10 years to get to my goal weight is extremely depressing.

So, what do you do when you feel like you've hit a wall? Well, I've done several things. Number one is I focus on every other aspect of my life that has improved because of both eating keto and the weight I've lost so far (which is a result of keto, obviously). In addition to weight loss I've improved my health dramatically in every way. I have energy to do things now - plenty of energy! I used to fight sleep all day long. I couldn't do anything on the computer without nodding off. I never have that problem anymore. I am actually active. I go for long walks with my dog and take my nephew to the park and even run with him. Up until a few months ago I hadn't run since I was a child! I haven't had heartburn even once while eating keto, it used to be a pretty often occurrence. I just feel absolutely amazing eating this way. Not to mention, the food is delicious. I'm definitely not deprived.

Another thing I do is remind myself that this process is not just about weight loss. This process is about healing my body inside out and head to toe. I did not get to 402 pounds overnight. It was a lifetime of mistreating my body. I can't expect it to heal overnight. So I try to remember that and be kind to my body.

Once I put all of this in perspective I try to switch things up. Our bodies are smart and adjust to what we are doing. Our bodies freak out when we start losing weight. I mean, I've been overweight since I was 7 years old. Now I'm dropping fat and my body is like "whoaaaa, hang on there. What's going on??" I cut sweeteners completely for 2 weeks to see if that had an affect on me. Once I added them back I did so very slowly while checking my glucose and ketone levels to make sure my body didn't have a negative reaction. It was a wonderful learning experience, but it didn't result in any change on the scale. I went "intermittent carnivore" for a couple of days each week for 2 weeks. During these days I would have meat and fat only, no carbs at all (except for one day where I had a couple in some heavy cream). This is what finally allowed the scale to move. I'm not sure if it was the lack of dairy, the lack of carbs, or just the fact that I was switching it up with caloric totals from day to day. 

Speaking of calories, they are not as important as most of the world thinks. I'm not going to sit here and pretend to know everything, I definitely don't, but I do know that the main cause of weight gain - and lack of weight loss - is hormones. This is why Type 2 diabetics are overweight. Their insulin has been so high for so long, while going undetected because their glucose isn't high enough to register yet, it has caused their cells to store fat. (If you will remember from a previous post, one of insulin's jobs is to prevent fat from leaving cells.) People who are overweight and diabetic are overweight because of the high insulin, not the other way around. Think about medicines that cause us to gain weight! How many women have gained weight from birth control pills? Anti-depressants? Most definitely a side effect. Are these pills loaded with calories? No. What do they do in our body? They alter our hormones. The change in hormones is what causes the weight gain. You could lower your food intake and add in hours of exercise every day and it would not move the needle. Yes, it might short term, but not in the long-term. 

For people who are metabolically deranged - people who are severely overweight - the key to successful and sustainable weight loss is lowering your insulin level. Even if you aren't diabetic it is highly likely you have high insulin (which will lead to you having diabetes later on in life). I was never diagnosed as diabetic but diabetes is on both sides of my family and with the state of my health I have no doubt that's where I was headed had I not done something. Sometimes people who are severely metabolically deranged hit a wall in their weight loss. This wall is from their insulin evening out to a set level - called basal insulin. I'm beginning to wonder if this is where I am right now. My body has obviously lowered my insulin since I've lost 136 lbs so far. But if it's at a level it's comfortable at it could be a very long time before it budges again on its own. Experts recommend fasting for people who have reached this level. (Fasting is also used for many other things other than just weight loss. I highly recommend checking out the links I will post below. It is fascinating!) I want to state plainly that fasting is NOT about calorie restriction. It is NOT about starving yourself. Fasting is actually very healthy. Think back to our ancestors. They didn't have 3 square meals a day. They tended to feast and then fast. After reading Dr. Jason Fung's books and listening to the episodes of 2 Keto Dudes that I will link below I have decided to start tackling some extended fasting. I've done several 20-24 hour fasts. I have often done "OMAD" (one meal a day). Intermittent fasting helped me greatly when I plateaued last year. I think part of that was due to fasting and part of it was due to me changing things up. My body has now gotten used to that.  I did do one extended fast of 40 hours a couple of months ago. It was sort of by accident as I just wasn't hungry. I felt amazing while doing it! Before I started the unplanned fast I felt like I had a cold coming on. By the end of the 40 hour fast I had no symptoms of a cold. It was a time of year I always get a cold that lasts several weeks. The fact that I never fully got sick and felt so much better so fast led me to doing some research and there are studies that show fasting while sick can help your body heal faster. It can focus on healing and not processing all the food coming in. I definitely experienced that personally and it was pretty awesome!

In preparation for my first planned extended fast I feasted the last couple of days - meaning I ate quite a bit more than I normally would. This is supposed to help rev up my metabolism to get it used to burning that many calories so hopefully once my insulin level drops my body will start burning my stored body fat at the rate of the amount of calories I've eaten the last couple of days. I'm not sure how long this fast will last. I'd  love to at least go 36-48 hours. 3 days I would be thrilled with. Fasting is something I think you have to work up to and start slowly so I am going to listen to my body and go by how I feel. 

This feels like a good place to head into my measurements and weight for the past month. Don't forget to check out the links about fasting below to learn more!

As you can tell, even though I technically "gained' almost 8 lbs on April 5th (as I mentioned above), my measurements two days later were pretty darn good! I FINALLY got below a 60" hip measurement. I can't even explain how happy that makes me. I know 58 3/4" is still a huge measurement, but considering I started at 85" I will take it for now! I also lost a decent amount on my waist and bust/under bust. Of course I lost the most from my bust! LOL I can't wait to see how fasting plays out for me. 

I weighed this morning in preparation for the fast and weighed in at 272, so my body is still hanging onto that extra weight and in the same weight range I've been for pretty much the last 2+ months (270-275). 

2 Keto Dudes Episode 58 - Switching it Up with Megan Ramos

2 Keto Dudes Episode 61 - Metabolic Rate

The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung
The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Jason Fung

Short Video from of Jacqueline Eberstein, RN, who worked closely with Dr. Robert Atkins for three decades. She has a lot of experience treating people with weight issues and talks about how hormones affect women and their weight. 

Fasting Talk is a podcast by Jimmy Moore, Dr. Jason Fung and Megan Ramos that I just started listening to this morning. I think it is going to be very helpful and can't wait to listen to more!

If you'd like to follow along on my fasting journey make sure you check out my social media links as I plan on talking about how I'm feeling, what I'm drinking and taking as far as supplements. I will have black coffee (because that's something I won't give up hahaha), water and electrolytes, as well as my daily vitamins. If I feel like I need it I will allow myself some broth and maybe a little bit of fat (like butter or coconut oil) since fat doesn't spike insulin levels like protein and carbs do. I'm really going to listen to my body and go by how I feel. 

My social media links:

Thanks for reading and happy keto-ing! <3 


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Keto Khronicles: March 2017 - All About the Heart

Hello and welcome to another edition of Keto Khronicles! As you probably already know, my grandfather passed away last week. What I haven't mentioned publicly yet is that he died of a heart attack - after having a heart attack just a few weeks ago. The next day Bob Harper of Biggest Loser fame had a heart attack. So, this is a topic that has been on my mind a lot the past few days and I wanted to talk about it. I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I have done a lot of research on this topic over the last year from people who are experts and are much more knowledgeable than me. I feel like I am eating the best way possible to avoid heart problems for someone who has a family history of heart disease on both sides. I feel like this information is so important and everyone needs to hear it.

The biggest downfall of keto is honestly telling other people about it. It's almost impossible to penetrate the preconceived notions. All of the conditioning we receive like since BIRTH really flies in the face of what I want to share with them. I LOVE sharing the science behind keto with those who want to learn and don't judge. It's something I am extremely passionate about, it is not just about weight loss. It's about healing your body completely. Keto is becoming my Windex. (If you don't get that reference then do yourself a favor and watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding.)  But I realize it is a lot to take in. It was a lot for me to take in. I didn't come to this decision overnight.

Things I hate hearing are "all that fat is going to clog your arteries" or "you look great but I can't imagine you're healthy" or "I hope that meal doesn't have too many calories!." Really?? Nobody said anything when I had 8 cans of Coke a day and lived on macaroni and cheese. And honestly, it's none of their business. But since I AM passionate about this way of eating I like to try to share what I have learned. As I said earlier, I'm not an expert, but I have spent nearly all of my free time the last few months researching. The more I learn, the more I want to learn! I will link several resources below to back up what I am saying, as well as expand on the subject.

So, why doesn't eating a lot of fat cause heart problems? The vast majority of heart problems are caused by atherosclerosis, which is calcification (hardening) of the arteries. What causes atherosclerosis? High insulin causes atherosclerosis - and high insulin is caused by a high carbohydrate diet. By eliminating (or drastically reducing) carb intake you lower your insulin. This is the basis of why keto works. Weight gain and loss isn't about calories, it's about hormones - with insulin being the main culprit. If you lower your carbs, you will, in time, lower your insulin. This will allow your body to start burning stored body fat and will also lower your chance for heart disease, as well as a lot of other things including reversing Type 2 Diabetes.

Have you ever stopped to think about how the low fat craze has only come about in the last 60-ish years? Before that nobody was eating low fat. Our ancestors lived on animals. They only had fruits and grains in the summer - when they would have needed to fatten up their bodies for winter. Coincidence? I think not. Is it a coincidence that heart disease is the fastest rising cause of death in the last century - when low fat foods and processed foods filled with sugar were becoming popular? Our ancestors didn't follow the food pyramid - they didn't even have grains to eat most of the year. I mean, just look at the chart below.


Look at the jump in heart disease! This can not be a coincidence. The more I learn, the more it seems like such common sense and the more it infuriates me that we have been brainwashed our whole lives. Cancer is talked about all the time, everyone hates cancer and wants to find a cure (trust me, I'm one of them!), but nobody seems to feel that way about heart disease. The doctor tells you your cholesterol is getting high so you should cut fat and exercise more. Yet we have been doing that for decades and it's not helping. Maybe it's time to look at it from a different perspective.

I mentioned Bob Harper in the beginning of my post and I want to talk about heart attacks in people, like him, who seem super healthy. The most common type of heart attack for these types of people is called the widowmaker (I will link resources below about this, it is information everyone needs to know). I don't know if this is the type of heart attack Bob had, but it is very important to talk about even if it wasn't.

I used to be an avid fan of The Biggest Loser. I watched it every week and wished I could be on there - and yes, I wanted Bob as my trainer. Looking back now I am so thankful for that unanswered prayer because I know now how unhealthy their weight loss was (and why most of them have gained it back). I am NOT claiming to know Bob's medical history or personal diet, but he did put his eating and fitness recommendations out there for everyone - including writing a book about it - so I think it's fair to use that type of diet as an example. I do not want it to appear like I am picking on him. I loved him and I think he truly wants to help people. He's just been brainwashed like the rest of the world and truly believes a lot of fat is bad and we need carbohydrates to survive. Bob is a vegan (or at least said he was on The Biggest Loser) and promoted low fat, high carbohydrate diets. You can even see a video here from just a couple of months ago where he is still promoting that. Low fat, high carb creates an environment of high insulin, which is what leads to atherosclerosis. Bob said himself that his heart attack was genetics because his mom had heart problems. Genetics does play a role in heart disease, but with the right food you can greatly decrease your chances of having problems. Knowing his stance on food it honestly did not surprise me when I heard he had a heart attack because I've learned what leads to heart attacks. Just hearing Ivor Cummings talk about The Markers of Disease on the 2 Keto Dudes podcast (episode linked below) was enough to blow my mind. That is actually what woke me up and made me start looking into heart disease in the first place.

I could go on, but I think it is better if I link some resources below so you can learn more for yourself. There are a lot more resources out there than this, but these will definitely give you a good start.

But first, let's get to my comparison pics and measurements for the month of February! With my grandfather passing away and some other things happening I didn't get a chance to get formal pics, but I think the one I have do the job. :)

Apparently I was a ghost on February 1st.

As you can see, after hitting 130 lbs lost on February 18th my weight went back up. I finally broke that plateau yesterday (which I posted about on social media). I knew I would and I knew I hadn't gained fat, so the number on the scale going up doesn't bother me a lot. This is why you can't rely on the scale to tell you the full story. SO many things affect weight - hormones, water, muscle, etc. As you can see I didn't lose a ton in inches, but I did lose 1/2"- 1" on many different areas. I'll take it! I'm experimenting with changing up some of my eating - I think this week I am going to completely cut out sweeteners (I don't use them a lot as is, but I want to see if cutting them completely changes things). I think it is important to change things up every once in a while. Even if that's changing up your exercise routine or when you eat. Sometimes stalls just happen but sometimes it's a sign that you need to change things up.


I HIGHLY recommend the following 3 episodes of 2 Keto Dudes (yes, I know I recommend them a lot, but there's a reason for that!) that all address cholesterol and heart disease:(You can also find all of their episodes on their YouTube Channel.)
Heart Disease
Markers of Disease with Ivor Cummins

The Widowmaker

Challenging Traditional Cardiovascular Risk Assessment by Dr. Jeffrey Gerber

Dr. Peter Attia's Blog

The Fat Emperor (Ivor Cummins) Blog

Multiple resources in the Show me the Science category of the Ketogenic Forums

LDL Cholesterol Explanation by Dr. Stephen Phinney
President of the World Heart Federation linking carbohydrates to heart disease

The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung
The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz
Cholesterol Clarity by Jimmy Moore


Friday, March 3, 2017

Feelings Don't Have to Taste Like Regret

Hello, everyone. If you follow me on social media, you know it's been a very rough week. My grandfather passed away on Monday and I received some very devastating news about my other grandfather last Friday. When I got home Friday there was a big box of fried okra (one of my former favorite carby foods) sitting on the counter. The old me would have grabbed a Coke and okra and eaten her feelings. The me I am now didn't do either of those things. I wasn't tempted to eat "carbage" because I know what it will do to me. It will make me feel like crap, make me crave all sorts of bad-for-me things and potentially lead me down a path of destruction that I never want to visit again. I truly believe keto is largely to thank for this. Before going keto I was low carb (I will get into the difference between these in a future post) and still had all sorts of cravings. I didn't give into them often, but I did miss carby foods a lot. I really don't crave them anymore and, while they look good, I know the repercussions are not worth it. 

When my grandma passed in 2005, and then my aunt/second mom in 2008, I turned to food both times. Before my grandma passed I had managed to kick my Coke habit for about two years. When she passed I gave myself permission to drink it again because "I needed the comfort." You don't get over 250 lbs overweight without being an emotional eater. The way I was able to grieve and deal with stress and sadness this week while maintaining what I need to do to be healthy was a huge accomplishment for me.  I'm not going to put my health in jeopardy because I'm sad. All of my grandparents have been extremely supportive and proud of me. My grandfather who passed away often commented on and shared my blog posts. In fact, the last thing thing he shared on Facebook was my social media post about reaching 130 lbs lost. He wouldn't want me to go backwards, and I definitely will not be going backwards. This is honestly even bigger of an accomplishment than the 130 lbs I've lost because it proves to me I truly have changed and can continue on this path for life.


Friday, February 3, 2017

The Keto Khronicles: February 2017

Hello! I apologize for my sparse posts. I've been planning a post detailing how I have been losing weight for over a month. Life has been crazy lately and I haven't had much time to sit and concentrate long enough to write a full blog post. Add in the fact that once I started trying to tell others how I'm getting healthy,  I fell down the research rabbit hole. I know how I'm doing it and why it works, but explaining it to others is a different story. I am a perfectionist and once I started learning more, I wanted to try to learn as much as possible before I tried to relay that to other people. I decided to take a bit of a simpler approach and create a new series all about keto and my personal journey. I still like getting into the "mental side" of weight loss - I mean, that is why I named my blog "Who Ate My Psyche?" - but once you get in the right headspace, you need the tools to get you the rest of the way there!

So, here is the first edition Keto Khronicles. In each installment of The Keto Khronicles (which will be around the first of each month), I will update you on my weight, measurements and a comparison photo with the previous month's photo. I will also try to share something (or multiple things) I have learned on my own journey. That's exactly what this is - a lifelong journey and I hope I never stop growing and learning about it.

One reason I decided to start updating monthly is because it is hard to see changes from month to month. When I look at a picture of myself from before I lost weight vs now, it is pretty easy to see the changes. It gets harder to see the changes in recent months. I haven't taken my measurements often until this month, and I think that was a huge mistake on my part. One of my biggest regrets is not getting my proper starting measurements. I have an estimate of my measurements around my hip/belly button (the biggest part of me) and of what I was under my bust. I have never posted any of my measurements publicly because it is very embarrassing. But I'm at the point now where it doesn't really matter anymore. I'm not that person anymore. I put my starting weight and photos "out there," so I figured I might as well share my measurements. Measurements are actually a much better gauge of progress than pounds lost, especially on a ketogenic diet. (I use the word diet to describe a "way of eating," not as a short-term weight loss eating plan.) Weight can fluctuate a lot due to many different factors. The scale might show you have "gained" weight (which you will see for me in my January weigh-in chart below). It is highly unlikely that is fat gained, it's typically muscle or water retention. So, here are my starting measurement estimates (while they are estimates, I know they are very close to being accurate), along with my measurements about 6 months in, and currently.

Yeah, you read that right. At my heaviest, the biggest part of me was over 7 feet around. I still can't really wrap my head around that. I didn't feel that big. I mean, I guess I did in some ways. But, not really. I guess it was just what I was used to. Thankfully, I know I will never be there again. So far I have lost 25 inches, just around my hips! I think that's pretty awesome!

Now that I got that out of the way, let's move on to my measurements and photos for the month of January 2017. I wasn't planning on doing this until recently so my beginning of January pics were quick bathroom selfies I snapped to show my bestie. I hadn't even fixed my hair and wasn't really paying attention to how I looked. Definitely not my best pics ever. But that's what I have so you guys get to see them too. A year ago I would have said no way am I showing those and would have delayed a month. Now I will just say oh well! LOL!

So, why keto? And what is keto? I am going to keep this as short as possible because I feel like this post has already been lengthy. Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and I am still learning. I will post some links below where you can research and learn more about the ketogenic diet if you'd like.

A ketogenic diet is one that puts you into a state of nutritional ketosis. You restrict carbohydrates to less than 20 net carbs (which is total carbs minus any fiber in the food you're eating), eat a moderate amount of protein (enough to support your muscles) and the rest of your calories come from fat. The reason this works is because fat does not make us fat. Sugar and starch (all of which turns into glucose once consumed) are what makes us fat. When you eat a "standard" American diet you consume a lot of carbs. This means you are a "glucose burner." Glucose burners are constantly burning off the glucose in their system because you cannot have excess sugar in your blood. Since your body is busy burning off the glucose, it then stores the fat you have eaten for future use because fat can be stored safely. Glucose can't. Anytime you eat something with carbs it causes insulin production which, in time, turns into insulin resistance because your body has gotten so used to the constant stream of insulin it no longer responds to it properly. Insulin actually blocks fat from being burned - that's part of its job. So, as you can imagine, having a constant stream of insulin makes it impossible to burn fat.

By restricting carbohydrates you no longer supply your body with glucose. Your body will still make any glucose it needs on its own, but most of what was being done with glucose will now be done using ketones in the blood. Ketones are made in your liver by, guess what, fat! It turns out fat is actually a much better fuel source than glucose. Once you stop using glucose as fuel, you become a "fat burner" (also called fat adapted or keto adapted). Kind of makes sense when you consider our ancestors lived off meat and fat and rarely had sugar, right? They didn't need sugar - they were fat burners.

Starting a ketogenic lifestyle can be hard in the beginning. Most people will get "keto flu" (which I prefer calling carb withdrawal) when they start. This is minor and can be helped greatly by balancing out your electrolytes. You will most likely crave carbs the first few days. After that your cravings will go away. Trust me. I was a 402-pound Coca-Cola addict who loved macaroni and cheese and potato chips. My actual cravings for those things went away fairly quickly. I did have a lot of emotional attachment to them - mostly to Coke - that took longer to get past. But I DID get past it. If I can do it, you can.

I honestly can't imagine going back to how I used to eat. I absolutely LOVE the food I eat. I do not feel deprived. I look forward to food because it tastes good, just like I always have. But, I choose when I need to eat rather than the food controlling me with cravings. It really isn't just about losing weight, it's so much more than that. Once you are keto adapted you have so much more energy. For the first time in my life I actually want to do stuff and even workout. Your brain is much more efficient when running on ketones, therefor clarity and concentration are improved. You don't have constant cravings. For the first time in my life I feel like I am 100% in control. I just feel amazing.

Another plus of keto is if you suffer from chronic pain and/or inflammation (fibro, arthritis, etc.) it will likely be helped. Carbohydrates cause inflammation so when you remove those from the equation you will notice a lot less pain and swelling. I have not been diagnosed officially yet but am 99% sure I have rheumatoid arthritis. My pain and swelling in my hands has been so much better since cutting carbs. To prove my point, I splurged over my birthday in November. I enjoyed the food, but it honestly wasn't as good as I remembered. And for the next week I had pain and swelling like I hadn't felt in almost a year. I didn't need more proof that this was the way I was supposed to be eating, but if I had, that would have done it.

Ketogenic diets are nothing new and they aren't a "fad." The ketogenic diet has been used for decades for children with epilepsy to help control seizures. It is also currently being studied for cancer patients and Alzheimer's patients.

Some people argue that a state of ketosis is "unnatural" but you know what? Every single one of us is born in ketosis! Yep, babies are born in ketosis. Ketosis is a natural state of the body that almost everyone goes into at some point. A long night's sleep or a day of fasting can result in you getting into ketosis because there is no glucose going into the body. Pregnant women are especially prone to going into ketosis. Research has shown they go into ketosis faster than anyone else because their bodies need to supply the baby's brain with ketones for proper production.

I could honestly talk about this for hours, but I think I have probably given you enough information for now. Many people try to complicate things too much when they start keto. Keep it simple to start with - lowering your carbs is the most important part. Keep your carbs below 20, eat a moderate amount of protein and eat fat until you're satiated. Eat when you are hungry and listen to your body. Do not worry about calories. It really is that simple. Some people do have to tweak things down the road, a lot of that depends on how insulin resistant you are and how much fat you have to lose. But in the beginning those are the most important things.

If you would like to learn more about the ketogenic lifestyle I highly recommend looking into the resources below. I am not affiliated with any of the links below and am not receiving compensation for recommending them. I believe most people (myself included) start out doing low carb without knowing the science behind it. This often leads to them giving up because they don't think it works for them or they don't focus on all the other changes happening with their body. It's not an overnight magic pill, but it will work if you give it time and focus on getting healthy and not just losing weight.

Online Resources:

2 Keto Dudes - they have a Podcast (which is how I typically listen), but all of their episodes are also listed on their website (linked below)  and YouTube. They are very informative and get into the science behind keto, but are also entertaining while they do it!
Episode Archives
YouTube Channel

Ketogenic Forum - a forum created by Carl and Richard from 2 Keto Dudes. It is a vast community with a multitude of information.

Diet Doctor - one of the largest and most informative low carb sites. It is written by
Andreas Eenfeldt, a Swedish medical doctor and specialist in family medicine, with many contributions from other doctors as well. - another great site with lots of information and "how-tos."

Doc Muscles - he has a great blog with a ton of information. He also has a series called The Principle Based Ketogenic Lifestyle. I have linked Part 1 of that series.

Dr. Jason Fung - I have linked his YouTube channel, but he has written a book called The Obesity Code that is highly recommended as well.

Book Recommendations:

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Dr. Stephen D. Phinney  and Dr. Jeff Volek

The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung

The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz

Cholesterol Clarity by Jimmy Moore

I hope this post wasn't too long for you! I look forward to my next post. In the meantime, follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post meals, progress pics and more.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Season of Struggle

Trying to squeeze all the way the heck out of 2016 like pushing out a 2016 pound baby. Seriously, the deaths, the fighting - both national and international - you'd think my holiday struggles and weight loss struggles would pale in comparison. But as carrying around your own personal bag of rocks goes, they feel pretty heavy to me.

One year into my weight loss journey. 

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be extremely hard on people in many different ways... like weight loss, for instance. How in the world are you supposed to stay focused and lose weight with people baking cookies and cakes and pies the whole month? Stores stocking aisle after aisle of candy. Break rooms at work filled with sweet treats from well-intentioned co-workers and clients. One of my personal favorite treats for this time of year is pumpkin bagels. I used to stalk all of the stores in my area starting at the end of August until I found them. They're so good! I've loved pumpkin since before it was cool, so when it started becoming popular and everything had a pumpkin version, I was in heaven. Until this year. I knew I had to stay focused. I knew myself well enough to know if I strayed it would only harm me. I didn't want to stray. I have come so far and nothing is worth undoing that. So I tried to avoid that area of the store as much as possible. But that's not always easy, especially since all the junk food is always prominently displayed - especially the fall and holiday items. There comes a time in your journey (multiple times, actually) for better health that you have to make a decision. You have to decide what's more important - you and your goals or having a bagel. Now, I'm not saying I will never have another pumpkin bagel again. I have not (and will not) have any this year because I feel I am at a crucial point in my journey and my goals are more important to me than that bagel. They aren't going to help me get where I want to be. So when I would see them in the store I would think of them as a deterrent. No, seriously. In my head, they became little demonic animations trying to lure me, 'hey Bud, c'mere' like you picture when a drug dealer is trying to lure a little kid. Whatever you have to do, right? And don't let the little voices say "but they're only here once a year." They'll be back next year. Count on it. That's when I'll decide whether I want one. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. I think most of the pumpkin stuff is going away so now it's time to avoid holiday treats. I'm looking at you, Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes. I did make some low carb pumpkin muffins that were pretty tasty! The recipe needs a little tweaking, but in time I think it could be great. If you find healthier alternatives to your holiday favorites it helps so much because you don't feel deprived. Getting healthy shouldn't be about feeling deprived. I think so often people don't want to start the weight loss journey because they focus on everything they have to give up. Instead, you need to focus on what you are gaining. Trust me, it is so much better than what you're leaving behind. 

So, why was I so strict on myself? For a few reasons. One was because after I lost 100 lbs, I plateaud. I didn't just plateau for a little while. I plateaud for 2 months. Two months of "doing everything right," switching things up based on numerous articles I read and from listening to people more knowledgeable than I am. Sometimes your body just doesn't cooperate. And, in my research, I learned that often times after you lose a lot of weight your body goes into shock and it is normal to plateau. It doesn't make it any less frustrating, but it IS understandable. I mean, I've spent my whole life with loads of extra fat on my body so it makes sense that my body is going to freak out on my journey to lose it. During this time I have also been battling some injuries and haven't been able to workout as much so I figured I shouldn't throw anything else 
in the mix that could slow down my weight loss. Honestly, I wasn't that tempted by the treats because they weren't better than the change in me this past year. Yes, they looked good when I walked by them. I know they taste good. But I'm focused on my goal and want to do whatever I need to do to get there. The photo below is one of my favorite sayings because it describes how I feel perfectly. 

I had a lot of people ask me how I stay focused when I hit a plateau. A couple of things keep me focused. You have to decide this change is a lifestyle change. This is not a diet. If you diet, that means eventually going back to your old habits, which will put you right back where you started. So to me motivation wasn't really a problem when I plateuad, because I knew this is my life now. I did have a hard time while on the plateau because I still have so far to go and it was so frustrating to see my weight going nowhere (or going up, which was even worse). I am not a patient person so I have a tendency to want all of this weight gone NOW. But I have to take a step back and realize that I didn't gain it all in a day (even though it feels like I did), and I won't lose it all in a day either. You can see below that my journey has had its peaks and valleys, like all. But it is on a downward trend overall and THAT is what's important. 

However, even when your weight is plateauing, you are likely still making progress in other ways. This is where non-scale victories become so important - and often are more satisfying than what the number on the scale says. One thing I encourage everyone to do before changing their life is to take measurements. I did not do this, and I really regret it. I have a rough estimate of what my waist measured before I started, but that's all. If you take measurements you can see just how much your body is changing so much better than the scale. Something else I did while plateauing was trying on clothes that used to be too small for me. I knew if clothes were fitting that didn't fit a few weeks ago, obviously my body is still changing whether the scale says it is or not! One of the very best feelings I had during my plateau was when I went shopping for something to wear on my birthday. Before I started losing weight I was a size 30/32 in some brands, but places like Lane Bryant - who only carries sizes up to a 28 - and Torrid I would have needed a 34/36, which didn't exist. (Torrid does now carry this size online, but it's very recent.) So when I went shopping for my birthday I expected to be in a size 26/28 now. I gathered up several things in that size in Torrid and went to the fitting room - and every single one was too big! I was so ecstatic! I went and got things in a 22/24 and nearly fell over when they actually fit me. I haven't been a size 22/24 since I was probably 16 years old. The picture below is a dress I loved and could actually zip up in that size. The shrug I'm wearing is a bit big - it was a 26. I ended up buying the shrug - one size smaller. I'm also showing a shirt I tried on that day because I was just so excited to be in that size! I do apologize for these being horrible quality phone pics.

Today is a special day for me because today marks one year since I decided to change my life. One year ago today I was 402 pounds and miserable. As many times as I have attempted to lose weight before - and have even been successful on occasion - I've never stuck with it this long. I'm not exactly sure what happened. What made this time different than the other millions of times I've attempted to lose? I wish I knew because I get asked that all the time. If I knew I would shout if from the rooftops. I would love to give that "magic potion" to several of my loved ones because I see how beaten down they are and I know exactly how they feel because I was there just a year ago. Maybe it was the fact that I am in my 30s and realizing I'm not getting any younger. I already wasted my teens and 20s hating my body and feeling unworthy of happiness and hurting like a 90-year old. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life feeling that way. Or maybe it was the fact that I realized I had wasted all this time and even though the amount of weight I had to lose seemed overwhelming, the time is going to pass anyway. It doesn't matter if it takes me 5 years to get to my goal weight. At least at the end of that 5 years I will have accomplished my goal. If you don't start then 5 years down the road you are still going to be unhealthy and miserable.

Left: July 2015 (7 months before I started losing weight); Right: December 7, 2016

I can tell you that every single person has it in them to do this. I am no better than anyone else out there. I'm not doing anything spectacular or spending a ridiculous amount of money. I just decided I had enough and got started. I am not perfect and I didn't know nearly as much when I started as I do now. I took baby steps doing things I did know I needed to do and learned as I went. And here I am one year later, 117.8 pounds lighter and feeling so much better. I still have a long way to go. I weigh 284.2 pounds so I am still heavier than a lot of people's starting weight - but I have come so far that that doesn't even bother me anymore! I am excited about the future because I can only imagine if I feel this much better now, how much better I will feel after losing another 140ish lbs. I have a rough goal weight in my head, but will decide on that when I get closer and see where I feel best. The number isn't important to me, how I feel is.

Seasons change as life changes. As I watch the Earth shedding its leaves and readying itself for winter
and for the renewal Spring will bring, the parallel strikes me. It's the shedding, resting, strengthening and renewal my body is going through. It's in winter right now, the hardest part, but without it, there is no stronger, more beautiful tree in the stronger, more beautiful me. It's a process. As I theoretically stand here before you, I feel as if I am standing naked in a room full of people. Standing here bare, letting everyone see what I would have been mortified to share just a year ago. I also sometimes feel bare like the trees because I am running out of clothes! But that is one of the fun parts of this adventure. 

And for all those who've been asking, stay tuned for my next post with all the details of what I'm eating, what I do for workouts, how often I schedule "splurges" etc. If you follow me on social media you already know a lot of this because I try to share pics as I go throughout my day! If you want to follow along where I am more active daily, check me out at the links below. (They are always on my right side bar as well.)



Thursday, September 8, 2016

I Lost My Best Friend

Okay, okay, not REALLY, but I did lose her weight! As of Saturday (September 3rd), I am officially down 100 pounds! That means I lost a baby hippo! Also, a foal! Or, if you need another visual, ten 10-pound sacks of potatoes!

So, what does this translate to on a person? Well, let me show you...

That before picture is one that's really hard for me to look at. I didn't know I was THAT big until I saw that picture, as well as another one of me sitting from the same trip (I will show you that one another day). It was shocking enough to see pics of myself standing, but this one showed just how much fat I had on my body. Sitting next to me is my aforementioned best friend and I was taking up 3-4 times more space on the couch than she was. I remember seeing this photo pop up on Facebook and promptly untagging myself and hoping as few people saw it as possible. But looking back I realize THEY already knew I looked like this. Everyone else could see me. I was the only one who couldn't see what I really looked like. 

So, 100 pounds later, what has changed? Everything and nothing. I'm still Ashley - but I'm not. It's sort of a weird feeling. I can't tell you how many times in the past few months I've said "who am I??" because my thinking and habits have changed SO much. My thought process has changed. I don't have to have a piece of cake in order to have a good time at a party. I mean, let's be real. Of course I still love cake. But I passed up cake this past weekend at my grandmother's birthday party. I could have had a piece and it wouldn't have been the end of the world but I felt so proud of myself afterwards and that feeling is so much better than any piece of cake. I never really felt proud of myself 100 pounds ago. 

I get up an hour to an hour and a half earlier than I used to just to have time to walk before work. I am actually thinking once I lose more weight I might like to try running. I really have myself wondering if an alien has invaded my body at times because I used to only think about running if the house were to catch on fire. Or if The Doctor showed up. I would have tried to run for that (because you know running is always involved when The Doctor shows up). If you don't understand what I'm talking about then you're obviously not a fan of Doctor Who and I am so, so sorry. But to think of running every day voluntarily? Not even in my realm of thinking. 

I don't feel like I'm 90 anymore. 100 pounds ago everything hurt. All the time. Not just when I was walking, but even when I was just sitting I would often ache. My body was not meant to carry all that around and I was slowly crushing it. I still hurt a lot, but it's a different kind of hurt. Yes, some of it is still from my body carrying too much weight. It's usually muscle aches or my plantar fasciitis flaring up. But I will take that over how I used to feel any day. I used to have to fight to stay awake when cropping pictures for blog posts. I know now that that was the sugar crash from my beloved Coke (which was both my comfort and my worst enemy). I've not had any instances like that for months and it's been amazing.

But the best part? I am starting to actually love myself. I have another post planned expanding on this topic, but it's an amazing feeling. I don't have a big head, but I do feel confident now. I am still 300 pounds but I feel so much better than I did when I was 300 pounds before - because my thinking has changed. I am actually comfortable in my own skin. Am I 100% happy with my body now? Of course not. I still have about 160 pounds to lose. And I don't think there's any person walking the planet that is 100% happy with their body. That doesn't mean we can't love ourselves. 

I used to avoid pictures at all cost because I hated the way I looked. Now I don't mind being in pictures and I'm even taking selfies! (Another "who am I?" moment!) I took the selfie above over the weekend and it was the first selfie I've ever taken that I actually thought "wow, I look pretty good!" My favorite part of the pic is I'm actually starting to see a neck! An actual neck that's not 52 chins!

Weight loss isn't easy. In fact, it's one of the hardest things I've ever done. But it is so worth it. No cupcake, no can of Coke, no bag of potato chips can compare to this feeling. Every walk taken, every sore muscle, every drop of sweat is so worth it. 


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Head Games

On this crazy journey I've been on for the last few months, I've come to realize that weight loss is almost all in your head...if not 100%. At least it is for me. 

I have tried countless times in my life to lose weight and have had times where I was fairly successful (though never as successful as I am now). Yet every single time, I ended up reverting back to my old ways. What the heck, Brain? Y U sabotage me? 

I've been trying to figure out what makes this time different than all the other times and it is definitely my brain, no doubt. My head is "in the game" this time. I'm all in. 

The most successful time I've had prior to now was before a wedding where I was a bridesmaid. But I did it for the event, not for ME. Once the event was over, I went back to my old ways - even though I didn't think I would - and not only gained back what I'd lost, but a lot more with it. And trust me, it didn't need friends tagging along.  And now that I think about it,  I think that's the very definition of yo-yo dieting! Just NO!  

And that is not what I'm doing this time. This time, I'm changing my life, my brain, my thinking. Myself. Will I have times where I "splurge" - absolutely. This is a lifestyle change, not a diet, and to be able to eat healthy the rest of my life I will need to have times where I can have cake or cookies. If I deprive myself of everything, I fail. I know me. If I think about not ever having another piece of cake, it's all over. This fat lady has sung.  

And I have learned something else about myself! There is a huge difference in me planning on splurging vs. eating something on a whim or out of "peer pressure." 

It really hit home after a graduation party a few weeks ago. But I have to go back to the Las Vegas trip to explain. Before I went to Vegas, I had splurges planned. How I would allow myself to "cheat" but I hesitate to use that word because if you plan it in and stick to the plan, is it really cheating? Is that a trigger word? Negative internal conversation that hinders progress? Possibly. Anyway, I knew I'd be drinking Cokes and eating things I don't allow myself normally. And that was fine. It was planned. And I stuck to it and didn't overdo anything but still allowed myself to eat and drink things I don't normally. All in moderation, right?  And I was mentally prepared for the scales when I got home. And I handled it well! I was sort of proud of myself.

Fast forward a few weeks to the graduation party. I formulated my plan. (LOL that sounds ominous, but I assure you it wasn't an evil plan, just one piece of cake to celebrate with everyone else.) And then it happened. Of course, we were at a Mexican restaurant. I love Mexican food. And it started. Everyone else was eating all the things. So I said aloud something to the effect that I didn't know if I wanted to splurge or not. And maybe I said it aloud secretly hoping someone would encourage me. Looking back I think that's exactly why I said it aloud. And I love my family to pieces but they're nothing if not obliging. So people started saying things like "oh go ahead, you DESERVE IT!" Encouraging me, assuring me that one meal wouldn't hurt anything. And I caved and had several things I shouldn't. Once I started, I just went totally off the rails. But it wasn't like Vegas where I planned it and knew it. I felt dirty.  Like a weak-minded "fat person" again.  I felt like a failure. 

For me, weight loss is so tenuous, and so much in my head that this was not good. I ran the gamut of emotions. I failed. I suck. I'm weak. And then I got a lot angry with myself and a bit angry (as much as I'm ashamed to admit it) at them.  "Well THEY caused it! Don't they know it's hard enough living there with everyone else eating whatever they want, 95% of which I can't have?  Don't they know things like 'one bite won't hurt' and 'you deserve it' are detrimental to me?" Of course, they didn't cause anything. I did. Me. But it took a few days to gain some perspective and start figuring out how it happened, why it happened, why it was so different than Vegas for me mentally. And of course there were people there who were seeing me 95 pounds lighter for the first time and I felt pathetic shoveling all the wrong things in my mouth in front of them. That was another clue for me - what others think about what I put in my mouth does not matter. At all. And because I allowed myself to do that, unplanned, and because I felt like I failed, all those old thoughts crept back in. 

Honestly, it scared me more than anything. I was terrified I was going right back to my old ways. Just like every other time. 

I guess what I'm saying is that as amazing as the weight loss is - continues to be - the most amazing part is what has happened, is happening, in my brain. My thinking. Seeing that I am stronger than I thought. That I can succeed. That even with freak out moments and glitches and slip ups I can still overcome and get my head right again. I'm learning so much about myself on this journey that the weight loss is almost secondary. Almost.