Last year when I was challenged by one of my Divas to do a round of whole30, I had no idea how much my life was about to change. Yep, I get how cliche that sounds, and honestly if you just rolled your eyes - I do not even blame you. I was exactly at that point when my friend Jen challenged me, but because I refuse to back down from a challenge - a public one at that - I jumped in with both feet in July of 2014. I had amazing success from whole30 and continued to sing its praises for months - getting many of my friends on the challenge and seeing their amazing results as well...
But there was a downside. Whole30 is incredibly restrictive - and while I found tons of foods I enjoyed that were compliant, I still struggled to find a "whole life" balance that worked for me. I found myself back in the old habits of eating compliant for a few days, then being in a situation where I couldn't be - so I would completely fall off the wagon and eat ALL THE THINGS - only to spend the next 2 hours beating myself up over it and vowing to NEVER do that again... It was not a good situation.
Fast forward to about 3 months ago when my friend Summer tells me she is doing "keto" and that she has found it to be much more sustainable for real life. Needless to say, I was intrigued. I spent the next few weeks researching the ketogenic diet and "LCHF" (low carb high fat) and while it was a little hard to swallow some of the philosophy that was vastly different from whole30, the science behind keto made sense. Turns out several other friends of mine were living the keto lifestyle as well - like Shasta and Cindy and Kenda. I continued researching, found a
ton of few people on Instagram to follow who use #keto pretty regularly, downloaded a couple keto friendly cookbooks from Amazon and I was ready to go.
Now, before I get too far into my experience here - let me give you a basic layman's overview of what Keto is - or at least my understanding of it. Basically, your body knows how to burn two basic types of "fuel" - carbohydrates and fat. Carbs burn pretty quickly, so when you give your body a good supply of carbs and fat (i.e. the normal American diet - even on whole30) the body will burn the carbs and store the fat for later.... yanno, like in your thighs. So in the absence of carbs (Keto) your body learns to burn the fat instead... both what you are giving it and what it already has stored. (#byethunderthighs) This process is called "ketosis" - hence the shortened name of Keto. In other words - eat fat to burn fat. For a much more in-depth science-y explanation, I suggest checking out this post from The Nourished Caveman.
Now before you start saying that you need carbs if you exercise/train/move/whatever - let me stop you. Keto is not NO carb - it is LOW carb - with most people aiming for about 20 grams of carbs per day. I think that is the first thing that made it appealing to me over whole30 - there is some leeway. Whole30 there are things that are allowed, and things that are not. Period. No gray area. It is 100% all or nothing, and they have no reservations about telling you that. (I love Melissa's tough love) With keto though, I am able to make choices without feeling like I am depriving myself because I have those 20 grams that I can choose how to use up daily - which has been plenty for me teaching 3-5 fitness classes per week and training for another long run. Finally I feel in control and empowered about what I can eat - instead of feeling deprived and restricted with what I can not.
Ok - so - how's it working for me?
Well first let me say it took a while to get the macros thing down. When you have spent 35 years thinking "fat" is bad and then you are told that you have to eat 138 grams of it without going over 58 grams of protein... it takes a little adjusting. But with my new obsession with Bulletproof Coffee I have finally gotten the hang of it. The first week I lost 4.5 pounds - which was pretty mind blowing to me considering I have been within the same 2 pounds since I completed my first whole30 round in August of 2014... yes even with two more fully completed rounds of whole30. The second week another 2 pounds. I was ecstatic.
In full disclosure, I must admit that I have not stayed 100% keto since starting - but unlike with whole30, I have no guilt about that. I do not feel like a failure, I do not feel like I have let myself down, and I am not beating myself up and binging on mint Oreos to make myself feel better. While I am still a huge advocate for whole30 as a way to learn if you have any food sensitivities that you may not realize or even to break an unhealthy relationship with food, it is not a lifestyle. (And by the way - it isn't supposed to be.)
My experience with Keto has been an overwhelmingly positive one over all. Not only is it very simple to follow and very easy to maintain - even going out to eat often - I am already seeing benefits of weightloss, clearer skin, better sleep, and less pain and inflammation in my joints.
So what DO I eat?
My days are absolutely FULL of food. I have had so much fun trying new keto-friendly recipes that I can not wait to share. Some have been terrific... others, not so much. I begin every day with a hot cup of Bulletproof Coffee which I have come to love like a member of the family. Most of the time this is enough for breakfast, but there are a few mornings where I want something more - which means I get to totally indulge in a loaded omelet with stuff like spinach, mushrooms, bacon, and goat cheese. If I am in a hurry I have my Low-Carb Breakfast Muffins in the freezer to grab in a pinch.
Lunch - if I am not still stuffed from breakfast - is generally some sort of salad. I alternate a lot between chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad, shrimp salad.. all loaded with Marie's Chunky Blue Cheese dressing - which has no carbs and ranks right up there with the Bulletproof Coffee. Sometimes I do want to "snack" - which is where Sharp Cheddar Cheese Chips, Pepperoni, and MoonCheese come in handy. If I go out - I get bunless burgers and big chef salads with no croutons. I can even eat out - and there are few things I love more than a lettuce wrapped bacon cheeseburger from Five Guys.
Dinner is where things get really fun - and I get amazing savory dishes like Chicken Alfredo, Crockpot Pork Carnitas, Cauliflower Pizza, and Bacon Wrapped Ranch Chicken. I know... doesn't sound like any "diet" you have ever heard of, does it? Every time I make an incredible meal I have to think I am doing something wrong... but in fact, I am doing everything right, and giving my body the proper fuel it needs to truly burn all that weight that I have been holding on to for over ten years.
The most exciting part about Keto is that it is easily sustainable as a lifestyle... for the rest of your life. There is no counting of days, no "starting over," and no giving up entire food groups only to try to reintroduce them back in later. With Keto - you simply Just Do It. (Sorry Nike - please don't sue me.) For someone like me who just needs serious structure - but still the flexibility to be empowered about what I choose to eat - Keto is working perfectly. I always feel satisfied after a meal (high fat does that by the way) and if I do not I can just have a cup of Bulletproof Coffee or Creamy Chicken Broth Soup and I am good to go.
It has been two solid years since I began my fitness journey to be a healthier me. I have tried everything from NakedFitness to WeightWatchers to hiring a personal trainer to running to Whole30. And while I still give a huge amount of respect to Whole30 for all that it taught me about food and how your body reacts to sugar, I feel like finally - finally - I have found something that I can do for the rest of my life. I am still on this journey and have a ways to go, and like everything else in my life I plan to share it here on MoscatoMom. So if you are considering it - or maybe you found this blog because you too are getting started in your journey, connect with me on Instagram and Facebook - and let's cheer each other on!