It seems as though you cannot tune to any type of media, online or television, and not hear about the Keto Diet. If you’re anything like me, your Facebook feed is filled with people sharing their favorite ketogenic recipes and sharing their levels of success with this latest diet craze. To be fair, I experimented with the Keto Diet in 2013, long before anyone on MSNBC had heard of this diet. In fact, I had great success in losing weight and feeling great. I’m not writing this to bash the Keto Diet, but to offer a sort of third way to looking at the topic.
For those that aren’t familiar, the Keto Diet operates on the principles of high fat, low carb, moderate protein. For argument’s sake, we will say that the make-up of each of these types of energy (because that is what fat, carbs, and protein amount to in your body), is 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. There are a number of calculators that you can plug in your particular body composition and get the actual grams for each of these numbers, this being one of the most accurate. Basically what happens is that once you stop fueling your body with carbs, you will produce little energy molecules called ketones. Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. Yes, your fat. Thus, the success is weight loss with this diet. But, all good things must come to an end. You see, your body is super smart (even if you don’t think so). You’ll eventually hit a stall. Normally, the suggestion to bust through this stall is to pound some carbs. Where do most people get their carbs from? Yep, bad stuff. Not good vegetable carbs. Usually, pasta, ice cream, sugary stuff…you get the picture. So, while that stuff lingers in your body, it forgets that you’ve been running on ketones and switches to burn this less efficient molecules of energy.
A ketogenic way of eating has been shown to be helpful in many medical conditions, particularly those who suffer from seizures and some other neurological disorders. I’m no doctor, so I would not go so far as to recommend this diet, but it would be worth exploring if you find yourself with specific medical needs.
Now, this isn’t really all inclusive and really not meant to bash the Keto Diet. But, as I thought about my own success and also the folks that I know who have some experience with Keto, these thoughts are where I landed. Essentially, we make a switch in the input for our energy, start feeling better, and then start moving more. I get it, it is hard to get off the couch when you are totally inflamed and feeling like doo-doo. I do. But here is the deal. Once you stop eating Keto and revert back to eating Doritos and Breyer’s Ice Cream, you will regain your weight. Once you stop moving and start watching more TV, you’ll gain weight. Once both of those things happen, you’ll likely be back where you started. I guess the good news is that you could just hammer down on Keto again.
But…What if you started just making some different choices today? What if you took a half hour walk everyday for a few weeks? What if you eliminated eating a half of loaf of bread with every meal? What if you simply skipped breakfast and condensed your eating window to between noon and 7pm?
I think that my train of thought here really started when I saw loads of people going to extraordinary lengths to follow yet another diet. It got me thinking about our mindset when it comes to systematic health. We want the quick fix that causes us the least discomfort. But, what if we realized that we will arrive at our next birthday (hopefully) either way? What if we took a long view of our health, not just for today and not just so I can finally fit into those jeans I’ve been holding onto for year? I know it isn’t easy. Nothing really is. Try eating sticks of butter and everything and trying to make some faux desserts for every meal. It’s not that easy. It is slightly more fun than simply saying no to crap, but you get the point.
Also, I thought about all the things that I’ve tried to lose weight and get healthy over the years. I’ve experienced great success on Keto. I’ve experienced success on Atkins. I’ve experienced success with Tony Horton’s P90X nutrition guide. I’ve experienced great success on a Paleo way of eating. I’ve experienced success eating a half of a chicken breast and half of a pouch of brown rice, coupled with cycling 35 miles a day. The fact of the matter is, success is not limited to one diet or way of eating. But, I do think that we are each unique and that we require certain inputs to be at our optimal health. Success starts with a change in what you are currently doing, most often. Incremental changes in your way of eating and moving more will pay huge dividends.
If you’re not where you want to be at health wise, there is hope. I’d encourage you to take a good inventory of how your body feels and what specific parts of your body aren’t well. From there, you can make a much better choice as to what are the best inputs for your body. As long as you are moving forward in your health goals and overall wellness, I’d venture to say that you’ll be successful. If you need a listening ear, I’m always here.
If you’re anything like me, you’re fascinated by the intricate root structure of trees. During the very active hurricane season of 2014, there was a tree in our front yard that was essentially just pushed over. Interestingly, in Florida, the root systems of trees, even trees that are old, tall, and big, are very shallow. Their roots grow far and wide, forming more of a web than burrowing deep as I’m accustomed to being from the north where roots grow both deep and wide. This tree, and many like it, was interesting to look at with it’s web of roots at the base. I envisioned some giant plucking the tree from it’s resting place and tossing it aside like a toddler with his toys.
In the past year, I’ve had a great deal of transition in my life, moving from the land of sun and swamps to the land of mesquite and prickly pear cactus. Changing jobs from working for a cartoon mouse, who happens to be obsessed with capitalism and fantasy, to working for a state organization charged with preserving and protecting wild places and animals. I’ve gone from working over 60 hours a week and most often 6-7 days a week to consistently having two days off each week. It has been refreshing in many ways. My kids have finally, for the most part, stopped asking if I am coming home at the end of the day. I’ve discovered, and rediscovered, some hobbies such as baking gluten free stuff and riding bicycles for both distance and off-road mountain style. I feel like for the past decade we have pretty much just existed to work. This is, thankfully, no longer the case. Sure, we’ve traded in some financial comfort and living in the land of tourism, but we have gained so much in terms of relational health and stress relief.
One of the things that I’m most excited about is that I’ve reignited my quest for health and wellness, both in my own life and sharing that with others. If you’ve followed my life journey, you know that I’ve been unhealthy at times, but also in very good health at other times. For the past three years or so, I attribute my level of health to the tremendous levels of stress that I experienced while living in Florida. It would be easy for an outsider to consider that I had a great job, mucking it up with famous people and politicians, making magic for a mouse. Certainly, at times that was true. But, the organization was not healthy and that sickness trickled down to the likes of me. In some ways, I felt that I was stuck in the mud, spinning wheels, knowing that I needed to move forward and seek out my passions. In other ways, it would have been easier to just maintain the status quo. Fortunately, I was handed a winch line out and have found tremendous satisfaction in my new career.
So, where does this roots theme leave me? Personally, I need to return to my roots. I need my root system to grow deep and wide. I’ve probably read more, listened to more podcasts, watched more YouTube videos, and digested more documentaries on the subject of food and wellness than anyone I know. I’ve studied anatomy and physiology at length during college, and even afterward. I get biochemistry. I have long been interested in the medical field, in some way, from studying Pre-Med to Radiology to pondering a return to school for Chiropractic. I’m just fascinated by these walking skin bags we call home on this earth. I’m fascinated by optimal performance. I’m interested in slowing the aging process. I can’t help but wonder about the fuel that we put into our bodies. I’m amazed at the stories I’ve heard or read about people being healed. Now that I have margin in my life, I can do this, finally! I believe that I was put on this earth for a reason. Looking back, my life’s path could have taken many different directions. For some reason, it didn’t. Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if……But, the reality is that I’ve followed this path for a reason. I need to be intentional about the journey.
So…Be on the lookout for more from me. I love writing. I love sharing my findings with others. I’ve been looking into some credentialing programs for health and nutrition that I’ll be sharing more about in the coming months.
My door is always open if you want to chat about any wellness issues. Stay rooted.