[This article, and other articles in the Keto category on this website, are meant to help people who are engaged in, or considering, the ketogenic style of eating. This eating style is not for everyone, and serious medical considerations are involved in choosing this eating style and/or using the products and methods mentioned here. No one should undertake a Keto dietary journey without getting a green light from their doctor. Nothing in these articles should be construed as medical advice, and readers assume all risks and responsibility for their own implementation of any these suggestions and recommendations.]
I was pretty much always “the fat kid.” Looking back at pictures of myself as a child, I wasn’t really obese. But despite the fact that my “Southern home cooking” mother packed me full of (and taught me to love) sugar, grease, and salt (she fried EVERYTHING), there was no way she was having a chubby kid.
(*Let me be clear. My mother was a wonderful mother and this is not meant in any way to tarnish her memory. It was strictly out of love and concern for my well-being that she put me through the attempted remedies below.)
So, starting in about 3rd grade, she put me on extreme diets. These wonderful eating plans featured a horrible-tasting shake made from adding water to a packet mix, along with melba toast, for breakfast; a ¼ head lettuce wedge (with lemon juice for dressing) for lunch; and a small portion of meat and veggies for supper. I was hungry all the time, angry and frustrated (hey, I was just a little kid – wondering why I was being punished all the time), and made to feel that there was something wrong with me. I was miserable. And to make matters worse, I really wasn’t losing any weight!
I was a very active kid, not athletic, but got lots of exercise. And when I look at my high school pictures now, to me, I look downright skinny.
But I always saw myself as a fat person, because I had had that concept drilled into me as a child. I’ve never seen myself any other way.
For all of my adult life, I have been overweight. For a significant portion of my adult life, I have been “morbidly obese.” For those who are unaware, “An individual is considered morbidly obese if he or she is 100 pounds over his/her ideal body weight, has a BMI of 40 or more, and [is] experiencing obesity-related health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.” (University of Rochester)
As most overweight people tend to do, I had tried many of the diets and programs (Weight Watchers, Weigh-Down Workshop, etc.) out there, only to see my weight go down and back up like the proverbial roller coaster.
During my “oh, what the heck – it’s useless!” periods, I had achieved a pinnacle weight of 335 pounds. For years, I described the difficulty of that kind of burden of extra weight as “carrying a bowling ball around on a golf tee.” I was literally carrying the equivalent of an extra person with me everywhere I went, and it was affecting my joints, my breathing, my libido, my energy level, my cognitive function, and a number of other less savory issues that I won’t mention.
I felt like I had pretty much tried it all, and that nothing had worked for long. I would lose 70-80 pounds, keep it off for 2 or 3 years, and then gain it all back and more – all because I couldn’t sustain the restrictions of the dietary regimens I employed. It was very depressing, and I lived my life in a “brain fog” that I seldom was able to rise above.
As I moved into my retirement years, my list of medical maladies began to look like a CVS Pharmacy receipt – high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, prostate issues, etc. I had kept my weight at about 280 for about 2 years, but suddenly it was rising again at an alarming rate.
That really scared me. With diabetes that was not well controlled, I was potentially looking at serious vision issues (loss of sight at some point?), painful neuropathy, circulation issues (feet or toes amputated?) – none of them pretty. My A1C (look it up, if you don’t know what that means) was up near 8. And I just couldn’t stop myself from eating and eating. I felt hopeless and resigned myself to a life expectancy of about another 5 years.
I’d been praying all along, of course, and time after time, God had shown me new ways to lose weight. But I began to wonder if he had used up all the options.
Of course, one option was surgery. But due to my diabetes, I’m not a quick healer, and without even considering the expense, the risks seemed to outweigh the possibility of a positive outcome. For my friends who have undergone weight loss surgery, the results have been about 50/50. I desperately needed to lose a LOT of weight quickly!
But there was Rosie – there was always Rosie. She would sit silently by, knowing that lecturing me or cajoling wouldn’t motivate me. And she would pray for me. But, the strongest motivation came from her example.
Rosie has never been what I would call overweight. She ate tiny little salad meals and walked the two miles to work and two miles back nearly year-round for years! But she never lost the weight she wished she could.
While visiting our son, Jesse’s family in Alaska, she enjoyed eating their gluten-free and ketogenic (“Keto” for short) diet. She was impressed with the weight they had lost and the changes they had made to their eating habits to make that style of eating more sustainable. She decided to give it a try and lost a surprising amount of weight over the next year. She looked and felt fabulous – and still does!
Ketogenic eating is, simply stated, “fooling” your body into burning stored fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. But, to accomplish this, you have to pretty much stop eating carbohydrates.
I finally decided to take the plunge and commit to really give Keto a go. The bottom line is actually very simple. Over the last year and a quarter, I have lost 52 pounds (which is now 102 pounds down from my “pinnacle” weight). My A1C is down from 7.9 to 6.1. My blood sugar stays low (I quit taking my blood sugar pills altogether – no need!) My doctor took me off my blood pressure meds – my BP was actually getting too low. And my cognitive function has improved immensely. No more brain fog. There are other improvements as well.
I’m planning on continuing to eat this way for the long term. I find it sustainable, and not at all a burden. (I still need to lose another 50 pounds or so to reach my goal.) The built-in motivation of continued weight loss and constantly improving health is keeping me moving forward. And the continuing discovery of delicious new “substitute” products to replace the foods I love, but no longer eat, makes it increasingly easier.
Ketogenic eating is still highly controversial, and doctors and nutritionists vary widely in their opinions about it. But it’s hard to argue with success. For me, it was a last-chance life-or-death choice. And it worked!
To summarize, here is what ketogenic eating has done for me:
- Helped me lose weight much faster than anything else I’ve tried
- Normalized my blood sugar – I no longer take medicine for it
- Normalized my blood pressure – I no longer take medicine for it
- Normalized my lipid profile – perfect cholesterol and triglycerides
- Improved my cognitive function – no more brain fog
- Improved my energy and creativity
- Brought my total weight loss to over 100 pounds
- Helped me make better, healthier food choices
- Lifted my spirits and my mood overall
- Helped me feel better about my body and myself
- Brought my eating under control
- Lifted a burden of worry off of my shoulders
- Introduced me to a new way of cooking and preparing food
- Done all these things for other members of my family as well
So, WHAT THE HECK IS KETO?
See my next article. Thanks for reading!