What I’ve Learned From Two Months of Keto – Weight Loss Diary #2
I’ve learned a lot and shifted my approach to food in a BIG way over the past two months of following the Ketogenic Diet. Here’s my two-months check-in, key takeaways and how I’m shifting my approach to weight loss going forward.
I started following the Keto Diet on January 20th, 2019: the day after our Ukrainian New Year’s celebration where I feasted on perogies and breads and desserts. The next morning I woke up and decided I wasn’t going to wait any longer, so I cooked myself up some bacon and eggs and never looked back.
From that day forward, I’ve followed the Ketogenic diet pretty strictly (I admit, I have snuck a few tastes of some of my homemade sourdough bread, pancakes and even a couple sourdough brownies too because, in a cruel twist of fate, I also decided to get into sourdough bread-making and baking at the exact same time as I started Keto.
I know, it makes no sense, but it was a skill I wanted to learn. So while I’ve been really good at baking for my family and watching them eat and talk about how yummy it is from across the table while I eat a chicken salad, I will admit I have had a few bites here and there. Full disclosure.
But, over the course of nearly eight weeks, I have otherwise been very good about sticking to this diet. Aside from those two brownies last week, I’ve cut out all added sugar, full stop. And aside from a few bites of homemade bread and half a pancake, I’ve completely cut out all grains and gluten too. I even cut out milk and cream and switched to using coconut milk in my coffee because it’s higher in fat and lower in sugar.
And here I am, eight weeks later with a negligible amount of weight lost to show for it.
The bumpy road to weight loss
I began this year with a big goal to lose 50 pounds by the end of December, and while I have to admit I’ve not yet worked up the energy and motivation to hit the gym or start running every day (it’s on the list, believe me), I have been very good about sticking to the recommended foods on the Keto diet. And yet, true story, I will sometimes weigh myself at night, and by morning the scale says I’ve gained 5 pounds! Talk about a bummer way to start your day.
Now, I have lost some weight. Overall I’ve lost about 7 pounds and about two inches off my waist and my clothes are fitting better. I’ve had a handful of compliments lately too about how I look thinner and “less puffy” (always a good thing, right?) and even that my skin looks clearer. And I can feel it and see it myself (I think… Although the scale has me questioning my sanity some days.)
I know I’ve been making at least some progress with the Keto diet. And I know that weight loss and getting healthier in general is definitely about more than just the numbers on the scale. Still, it’s a little disheartening when you’ve been sticking to a diet for two months that many people say they’ve lost TONS of weight on right away, and here I am with a total of about 7 pounds lost out of the 50 that I’m aiming to lose. And to be honest, some days my scale says I haven’t lost an ounce.
I’ve done a lot of research on Keto and what I’ve read a lot is that if you’ve been doing Keto for more than 5 or 6 weeks and haven’t lost much weight, you may have a thyroid or a hormonal issue. Now, I’m not assuming that’s what I have, but what I do know is that my body changed drastically when I had my daughter, and went through a lot with two more pregnancies last year, both of which ended in loss.
During my first pregnancy I gained about 40 pounds altogether and was actually pretty fit and healthy, but once I had my daughter, the weight seemed to cling on for dear life and just won’t go away. My feet even grew an entire size when I was pregnant and never went back to “normal.” I literally had to get rid of every pair of shoes I owned (even ones that were big on me before) and buy new shoes to fit my new feet!
So while I don’t know for sure whether or not my hormones (or a possible thyroid issue) have anything to do with my struggle to lose the weight, I’m at a point where I’m seriously thinking about getting it checked out.
I’ve also been overwhelmed with stress ever since my husband Ryan lost his job in December. The financial burden of trying to survive AND finish building our rental unit (which we were halfway through when he was let go) has been almost unbearable. And I can feel the stress affecting me physically, so I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow it’s affecting my ability to lose weight efficiently too.
I know I need to get more exercise too, and that’s on me. Our lives have been completely exhausting and overwhelming since this whole job loss debacle, and we’ve been working really hard to keep our heads above water while trying to grow our own businesses AND finish building our rental house all by ourselves (well, mostly Ryan’s been doing that while I try to balance, blogging, homesteading, home management, meal planning and being a mom), but still, no excuses, right? I need to get my butt in gear and make exercise a priority in my life. Because we all have time for what we make time for, this I know for sure.
Okay, enough explanations and excuses. The question is, where do I go from here? Where do you go when something’s not working the way you expected and you’ve given it an honest effort and a solid amount of time?
Knowing when to pivot
Now that I’ve had my pity party (thanks for listening), it’s time to put on my big girl pants and take another good, hard, honest look at where I’m at and decide where to go from here.
I do think a doctor (or naturopath) visit is in the cards because if there is something hormonal going on, I want to know about it. And I know I’ve got to make time for exercise. It has got to become a non-negotiable in my life, plain and simple. But what about the diet? Do I stick to Keto even though we can’t really afford it and any weight loss results have been negligible?
At the beginning of this year, I wrote about how we’re moving forward after a year of setbacks. As we approach the quarter-year mark, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on where we started, where we’re headed and where we are now. Naturally I’ve been doing the same thing with my diet, and I’ve made a decision to change course a little bit.
I’m still determined to lose the weight. My big goal is still to lose 50 pounds, although I’m trying to remind myself that simply getting in better shape will still be worth celebrating, regardless of what the scale says on December 31st. But at a certain point, it’s important to know when to pivot.
As Einstein once famously said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Although when it comes to stepping on the scale, I have come to expect a different result every time, even within the span of 5 minutes).
It’s time to get really honest and make some changes; Keep what’s working and change what’s not. March is a good time to reassess any goals and resolutions we made for the new year, so I urge you to do the same.
What did you resolve to do? How’s it going? If what you’re doing is working and getting you closer to your goals then keep on keepin’ on! But if not, maybe it’s time for you to pivot too.
Here’s my new plan going forward…
What I’ve learned after two months on Keto
After following the Keto Diet for nearly two months now, I’ve come to a few important realizations. Here are my key takeaways.
1. Not every diet works the same for everyone
Every body is different and responds differently to different things. While many people claim they dropped 10 pounds in the first week of Keto without even leaving the couch, others say they could barely function normally and that the Keto Diet made them feel awful.
I’m somewhere in the middle. I feel pretty good, I love the foods I’m able to eat and don’t miss many of the ones that I can’t eat, and I do feel slimmer and like I have a little more energy. But I definitely have not experienced the “miracle” weight loss that others have. The one week where I did lose 5 pounds, I had to plan out every calorie and gram of fat, protein and carbs I consumed in a day. While this did make sticking to a strict eating plan easier, I’ve realized that this type of meticulous planning just isn’t sustainable for me at this point in my life.
2. Cutting out sugar and carbs wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be
I expected to really miss things like sugar, bread, pasta and milk, but I really haven’t missed them at all. In fact, due to cutting out all of these added carbs/sugars, I’ve stopped getting food cravings altogether! Now when I’m hungry, it’s because I’m truly hungry and not just because I feel like eating.
I also don’t experience sugar crashes anymore, nor do I get “hangry” and shaky if I haven’t eaten in a while (something I’ve been notorious for my whole life). I definitely think that I have Keto to thank for this, and low-carb eating is definitely something I want to stick with going forward even if I’m not eating the Keto-recommended amounts (for me that means no more than 20 grams of carbs per day, and trust me, 20 grams can sneak up on you really fast!)
3. Cutting out (or at least cutting back on) refined sugar and processed, carbohydrate-rich foods is NEVER a bad thing, even if it doesn’t lead to major weight loss
The best thing about doing Keto for two months is that I feel like I’ve reset my diet and my palate and I’ve got myself into the habit of eating low-carb and sugar free. In fact, I was accidentally serve a tea with sugar the other day and I physically couldn’t drink it because it was too sweet.
I plan to keep this aspect of Keto going forward because I know that cutting out refined sugar and carb-heavy foods (especially processed ones) does lead to spikes in blood sugar, sugar crashes, diabetes and yes, weight gain. I also know that healthy fats like coconut oil and avocados are good things to keep in my diet moving forward. But I might scale back on the cheese and bacon.
4. Restricting my carb intake so much that I can’t even enjoy certain fruits and vegetables is just too restrictive for me
Aside from feeling stalled in my weight-loss efforts, the hardest thing for me about Keto is not being able to enjoy certain fruits and vegetables. Most fruits are completely restricted on Keto because of their naturally-occurring sugars. I don’t think I’ve ever salivated over a jar of applesauce the way I did on Keto! Likewise, I enjoy certain carb-rich veggies like carrots and beets, and I don’t want to feel like I can NEVER eat these things because my diet is too restrictive.
As we head into gardening season, I can’t bear the thought of not being able to eat half of the fresh fruits and veggies from our own home garden!
Also, while I plan to stay away from refined sugar, breads and pasta, etc. as I continue moving forward on my weight-loss journey, I don’t want to feel so restricted that I feel guilty for tasting a slice of my own sourdough bread or enjoying a bowl of homemade split pea soup (because yep, peas have too many carbs for Keto too). And ya know what? If I want to eat a sourdough brownie every once in a blue moon, it’s not the end of the world.
5. Eating strictly Keto can get really expensive
In another cruel twist of fate, I decided to start Keto at the same time as we were buckling down trying to live as frugally as possible because of Ryan’s job loss. Before I started Keto, I compiled a list of frugal recipes to help you stay on budget. As you’ll notice, most of them are carb-heavy, and for good reason. The fact is, carbohydrate-rich foods cost less, and naturally, the opposite is true for high-fat, protein-rich, low-carb foods.
Our food bill has noticeably gone up quite a bit since starting Keto, although I haven’t kept track enough to know exactly how much. But let’s just say that being restricted to fresh meat, eggs and vegetables has cost a lot more than eating home-baked bread, rice and beans and oatmeal for breakfast.
This is especially true because it’s the end of winter when nothing is in season yet and we’re almost out of home-preserved veggies and haven’t added chickens or other livestock to our homestead yet. Oh ya, and we’re dead broke.
The expense has been one of the most difficult challenges of sticking to Keto and sometimes I find myself skipping meals altogether because we’re out of Keto-friendly food and we can’t afford another trip to the grocery store.
Moving forward on my weight-loss journey
I want to make one thing clear: I am NOT giving up on this lofty goal of mine. But I know it’s time to take a slightly different approach to my weight loss. Here are the key things I will be doing to stay on track as I move forward…
1. Start exercising regularly
I’ve said it already, but this is the next best thing I can do for my physical body (and mental wellness too) aside from changing my diet. I HATE exercise. Like, a lot. But I always feel better after a workout. I need to find a way to make it a non-negotiable going forward. End of story.
2. Continue eating low-carb and low-sugar
As I said, cutting way back on sugar and carbs can only be a good thing for overall health, so I’ll be sticking to a fairly low-carb and mostly sugar-free diet going forward. But if I slip up and have a cookie or a piece of bread every now and then, or I have to eat rice and beans because that’s all we can afford, I’m not gonna beat myself up about it.
3. Visit my doctor
I’ve been meaning to talk to my doctor about how my pregnancies have affected my body and hormones, and now that I’ve done Keto for two months without significant results, I feel like it’s a good time to investigate if there might be something else going on. I’d love to see a Naturopath, but since Ryan lost his job (along with his benefits) I don’t think we’re covered for “alternative medicine” anymore. Luckily in Canada our healthcare is at least free so I can still “afford” to visit our family doctor.
That’s it for now. Usually I would write a laundry list of goals and things I’m going to do. But then I get overwhelmed and have a hard time focusing on any one thing. (Sound familiar?)
This time I’m going to keep my actionable steps short, sweet and attainable.
While I did hope that my second weight-loss check-in would read a little differently (more along the lines of “woohoo! I lost 20 pounds in 2 months all thanks to eating bacon!”), the most important thing to me is that I remain honest and authentic and, dare I say, human. So that’s the honest truth.
And even if my honest truth at the end of December is that I didn’t lose an ounce, I know that as long as I’m trying and always working toward better health and wellness for myself and my family, I should be proud of my efforts.
I hope that wherever you are now, that you don’t get too hung up on the end result either. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, save money or pay off debts, learn a new skill or anything else, please don’t be too discouraged if you’re not seeing the results you expected as quickly as you hoped. Know when to pivot, but don’t give up. And always hold your head high and be proud of yourself for working toward a better life, whatever that looks like for you.
Until next time,