There have been a lot of things going on in my life, your life, and well; everyone’s life. So, when things beyond the political climate, World Cup, and life are already out of balance; how do you cope when your body is also out of balance?
I know for me, it kind of seems like things all hit me at once. Work, gym, health, and family stuff all seem to come hurling towards me at the same time. From getting a promotion at work—YAY! To switching CrossFit boxes—YAY! To monitoring and worrying constantly about my husband’s health—BOO! To addressing my own health issues—BOO! To my sister getting married in July—YAY! And more.
I mean, there is SO much ‘YAY!’ in my life, but that doesn’t change the fact that change comes with added stress. And currently, I am dealing with addressing my mechanisms for dealing with stressors in my life and it turns out; I am pretty darn shitty about coping with stress. Who woulda thunk?!
In the last few months there has been a major shift in my life. I cannot pinpoint exactly when it happened; but what I was doing to keep my body healthy clearly didn’t seem to be working anymore. Even with a Registered Dietician helping me monitor my macros and counseling me; my skeletal muscle kept going down and my body fat kept creeping up. What that means is, my body was buring its muscle and holding onto fat instead of the reverse. But nonetheless, I stayed the course. I continued to count macros and weigh my food dillgently while hitting my workouts hard. Then one day, my clothes stopped fitting. It wasn’t gradual like one may think. It was just one day, when the buttons on my jeans wouldn’t close. Then another day, I couldn’t get my shorts up over my knees. Then my sports bras became so tight I had to cycle most of them out of the rotation along with most of my stretchy pants because well, now apparently my stretchy clothes weren’t stretchy enough.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many tears I’ve shed and the hours I’ve spent talking to friends about how my body seems to keep rejecting me and all the changes I keep trying to implement. So, I began reading and listening to podcasts from leading doctors and researchers in health and wellness to try to help myself achieve results and feel better in this body.
Here are a few things I have learned—
Metabolic Dysfunction, or as some call it Metabolic Damage, is real. It’s demoralizing, damning, frustrating, and depressing. Years and years of dieting, calorie restriction, working with the wrong people, PCOS, as well as an eating disorder in my teen years have lead me to this very moment. A moment where my body is over-producing insulin, clinging to fat in my mid-section, and taxed out from over-training, lack of rest, and high-stress.
For me though, the hardest part about suffering from Metabolic Dysfunction are what I perceive to be people’s judgments of my body and lifestyle. Countless times doctors have looked me in the face and told me I couldn’t possibly be counting macros or eating well. I can’t tell you how many times the same doctors and even some coaches told me that I couldn’t possibly be hitting as many workouts as I claim, or hard enough since my body isn’t changing. And I can’t even tell you how many times I have left doctor’s offices after a plethora of tests to hear, “Your blood work is fantastic and you’re healthy!” because I sure as hell don’t feel healthy!
But my big issue isn’t that doctors can’t pinpoint my Metabolic Dysfunction; it’s that they don’t want to. They do the standard tests, and the standard tests render standard numbers, and I am simply labeled a standard carb addicted American eating too much bad fat [enter sarcasm].
But really, the worst thing of it all amidst my epic weight gain, is being a fitness professional and an athlete. Compelled by this need to justify my physique, I talk about what I am eating—or not eating. How much I am work out—or about the intensity of my workouts in some almost pathetic effort to say to people and the world, “Look?! See?! I really do work hard, just see past this body!”
Which is why my current foray into nutrition has lead me to adopt a Ketogenic Diet and lifestyle with the hopes that its claims at being able to restore healthy metabolic functioning can get me closer to my goals. I am just shy of one week #GoingKeto and so far, I love it. For the first time in YEARS I am excited about food again. I am trying new things like eating beef and will even be trying Bison in the near future when I am forced to eat it by my husband. I mean, who am I?!
What is a Ketogenic Diet, or Keto?
Simply, it’s low carb, healthy high fat, and moderate protein. There’s so much bad information out there referring to Keto as high fat/high protein and that’s just wrong! Too much protein is actually bad for you! Also, Keto encourages the use of healthy fats like avocado, olive, and coconut oils to eat and cook with. YES, Keto does also endorse consumption of ghee, grass-fed butter, and dare I say it—the cheese. However, integrated with organic meats and veggies, eating these foods means that you are setting your body up to become metabolically adaptive and flexible.
By becoming metabolically flexible, it means that after committing strictly to Keto for 4-8 weeks (depending on your body), you can then occasionally reintegrate things you enjoy without feeling sluggish, bloated, or gaining weight. Keto if and when done right, can liberate you from the cycle of yo-yo dieting; becoming a sustainable lifestyle that will allow you to enjoy life’s sweeter or more savory pleasures from time to time.
I suppose the biggest things I’ve gotten from people are the following:
“OMG! You are eating heavy cream, butter, and all that fat! That’s going to make you fat!”
“OMG! How are you even surviving on virtually no carbs?!? I could NEVER do that!”
Well, let me drop some science on you.
First, for years and years the low-fat, high carb lifestyle has been promoted as healthy. Want to lose weight? Cut your fat and exercise more! Eat low-fat foods, lots of healthy grains, and don’t forget the carbs because you’ll need all that energy to burn in your workouts! And what happened? Our waistlines continued to expand, obesity, AND Type II Diabetes grew at alarming rates. So, sure—we should certainly keep cutting fat and eating carbs; it’s clearly working [enter sarcasm again]. As if my words aren’t convincing enough, maybe Harvard’s School of Public Health may sway you:
“It’s time to end the low-fat myth. For decades, a low-fat diet was touted as a way to lose weight and prevent or control heart disease and other chronic conditions, and food companies re-engineered products to be reduced-fat or fat-free, often compensating for differences in flavor or texture by increasing amounts of salt, sugar, or refined grains. However, as a nation, following a low-fat diet hasn’t helped us control weight or become healthier.”
When living Keto, you go into a state of Ketosis. This is where your body produces Ketones then burns them for energy instead of carbs. The Ketogenic Diet will actually prompt your body to burn fat for fuel. Ketosis only happens if you are depleted of carbs (consuming no more than a range of 21-50 grams per day) and I do not mean depleted in the sense of a body builder on prep. So what happens is: when you replace alllllllll those carbs with fat, it becomes your body’s energy source. You feel full, full longer, and more satiated than when eating a diet higher in carbs and grains, which get burned up quickly—leaving you with cravings and still hungry.
WHOA, a ‘diet’ where you feel satisfied, aren’t hungry, and feel more energized?! That is seems utopian. This Keto business must be too good to be true, or is it?
At nearly one week in, I do not miss my carbs. I do not feel sluggish, nearly as tired, and I feel energized. To illustrate my point, most days I am in a CrossFit WOD, teaching multiple high intensity or cardio class formats, and/or adding in another gym session—I am moving and grooving, and I feel GOOD. What’s more is since my meals are so nutrient dense, the need to eat so often has diminished—though I do always make sure to have keto-macro friendly snacks with me like nuts, a nut butter packer, or a cheese stick.
Tomorrow, I weigh myself. I should have started this journey by taking inches and will start that tomorrow. I plan on being as open and transparent about this and my journey as possible. I mean, what do I have to lose…?! All puns intended. The way I see this, I am treating Keto as an experiment. Learning all I can, doing all I can, and eagerly awaiting the results of my experiment.
Still scared of #GoingKeto? Or are you intrigued, tantalized, or ready to consider making some changes? Listen to this podcast featuring Mark Sisson, a leading researcher in the fitness world and be prepared to have your life forever changed!
Will you join me in #GoingKeto? Because right now, I look in the mirror and most days do not recognize the woman I see; but I know that the reflection I see is only temporary.
I will get this body healthy again.
I will love this skin I am in again.
I will move better in this body again.
I will rise again.