I stepped away for a few years to regroup, as many of you know. I come back, and the same questions and issues still exist in the broader landscape of the keto world. Some of the stuff I preached from the beginning is now slowly getting accepted, I like that. Some of those things are higher protein, watch sugar alcohols, watch out for dairy, not everyone is the same, and yes, you can eat too much fat. One thing that still is on the fringe is calories, stalls, and your metabolism. I think it is time for a deep-dive. You ready? It’s gonna be long (of course it is, Hobbit, why wouldn’t it be).
First, we are going to establish a few basic concepts so that we are all on the same page. Most of these are common knowledge but I think it is good to make sure things are clear.
Starting Keto: To get started on a ketogenic diet – regardless if this is for healing obesity, helping with neuro issues, helping with hormonal issues (while related to the health issue of obesity, this also can be separate), healing of metabolic health issues, or any other reason – the only thing you need to do is to reduce your carbohydrate intake to a point where the body needs to make ketones for fuel. It is that simple. You can chose to do other changes such as eliminating grains, processed foods, legumes, etc. (and it is a good time to do that if you are inclined), but none of these things are required to be ketogenic.
Choosing your target: I’m going to limit this part to one goal – fat loss. Note that I said “fat” and not “weight.” While there is some sort of loose relationship between losing fat and losing numbers on the scale, they do not – and honestly shouldn’t be – directly locked together. You can lose fat and not lose weight. You can gain fat and not gain weight. You can lose fat and weight and be unhealthy. You can gain fat and weight and be healthy. It all depends on your composition, not the affect of gravity on your overall mass. Since 69% of the people in the USA are either obese or clinically overweight, we first need to be realistic about our targets. If you are 250lbs and 5’2, losing 100lbs is a great goal, but you will still be obese in the end if all you do is lose fat weight. 150lbs is still 20lbs overweight if we do not take body composition into account. Here’s where it gets messy, we need to have a goal, it keeps us motivated, it gives us a target, and honestly, if you are the person I just described, no matter what, you are going to be healthier at 150 than 250. The issue is, if you don’t do this right, you could be significantly healthier at that target weight. So, while I’m not saying don’t set a goal weight, you need to set one that is not just realistic, but healthy. In doing that, we need to set other goals such as A1C levels (BG levels), body fat composition, lean mass, a goal outfit, a goal pushup number, a goal crunch number, etc. We should set more than one goal. Why? Body changes and improvements are not linear, there’s no “if I do X, I’ll consistently get Y in Z number of days.” Nope, it doesn’t work like that. In addition, weight isn’t the ideal measure, having more than one goal means you have more victories. More “wins” in your column can be empowering. Empowerment is what will get your through this. Changes in lifestyle and life in general has as much to do with your self-esteem and mental health as it does your physical health. When you feel good about yourself, proud of yourself, you are energized to reach that next goal and are more likely to maintain your “ultimate” once you reach it. That’s what it is all about. Losing 100lbs doesn’t mean shit if you put it back on again in a year because you don’t think you are worth it. Think it. BELIEVE IT. You are worth it.
Plan and proceed wisely: Referencing the above paragraph, when you start keto, most people see fast “results,” a sudden drop on the scale of 3-7lbs within a few days. This is exciting! <does mental math: want to lose 70lbs. Lost 7 in 2 days. Goal will be hit in 20 days!> Sorry, that’s not how it works 🙁 That first “woosh” is water leaving your cells. Don’t get me wrong, losing 7lbs on the scale in water is 7lbs of water not pressing out against your skin. This isn’t a small deal. But, it’s not indication of anything other than you achieved ketosis consistently for a few days. If you do not plan wisely, proceed wisely, and be flexible as things move forward, you are going to hit a wall. Even doing all these things, you can hit a perceived wall if all you look at is the bathroom scale. Multiple goals also means multiple steps in the method for success. One step, one goal usually doesn’t work out as planned. I’ll explain why later in this series.
Setting your intake for success: Keto is a diet, not only in “Ima gonna looooooooooose all da weight” diet but in the most basic definition of the word: what and how you eat. We already know we need to drop the carbs to achieve ketosis, but what is that number? Honestly, it is imprecise, but we do have a couple of absolutes. 20g down to zero – total carbs, not net – will not provide enough glucose for the body to function without ketones. For all practical purposes 30 will do it, but since the carb counts in food are not always right on the dot, we say 20 to be safe. Depending on your metabolism, energy usage, and hormonal balance, you might be able to get away with higher numbers. I know people who can do 50g total and maintain ketosis. I know people who at 30 cannot. So set that goal at 20g total carbs, at least in the beginning. This achieves more than just getting you in ketosis, this also gets your mind focusing on watching what you eat in a conscious and subconscious manner. The mind is the key, without having your head in the game, you are on the sidelines wondering why you can’t play with the other kids. Get your head involved, the body will follow. Before I get to the other macronutrients and calories, something else needs to be addressed.
You are who you think: You’ve heard “success is 90% inspiration and 10% perspiration.” That applies here. Yes, as I will talk about later, you are going to work up a sweat, but honestly, you can do that an hour a week and be in the sweet spot. We aren’t talking about that right now, it is your thoughts that need to do the work. There will be big and little successes. There will be times when nothing seems to be happening. There will be results that don’t please you. There will be no failures. Failure means something is broken, you are not broken. If you get a result you didn’t want or expect, that’s not a failure. That’s an unexpected result, which you need to look at as a success. What? Yes, a success. You tried something and you got a result that you can learn from. You gained knowledge and insight. This is a good thing. Results matter, but we can’t just focus on the results we want, we need to learn from the results we don’t want. This is enlightenment. This is growth. This is power and strength. Ever time you have a result you don’t expect, it is a chance to learn about yourself and science. It is a chance to use that as a lever to get the results you do want. It is a chance to get on the other side of that result, power the hell through it, and look back at it and say “damnit, I did it.” If nothing was ever wrong, nothing would ever be right. When we focus on the negative, we become negative.
Regardless of who you got to where you are, it didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen because of massive amounts of self-confidence and self-worth. This is a journey. This is not a sprint. You cannot undo years or decades of slowly becoming less healthy in a week or a month. I will tell you this, you can reverse this faster than you got here, but it will take you being engaged and involved. It will take you being open to new ideas. It will take you to believe that you can do it. I believe in you. I know you can do it. If I can believe in you, the only thing that is holding you back is you believing it too. I’ve been there. I know what it is like to not be proud of who you are because of how you look, how you move, and how you don’t fit into the world around you. I know what it is like to be told you are weak, lazy, a pig, a glutton, immoral, unmotivated, unattractive, and unwanted. I am you. You are me. We are us. Together, we can get through this. We matter. We are worth it. Yes we are.
However you got to where you are, that isn’t who you are, it’s what happened to you. Regardless of your involvement in what happened to you, that was yesterday. Today is a new day. Guess what? Tomorrow is one, too. Who you were yesterday is a tool you can use to improve today, not as a chain to hold you back. You hold the key to that chain, you just need to find it. This is why multiple goals are so important. They are our key to unlocking our self-confidence, and more importantly, to let us love ourselves. If you read this post and get absolutely nothing else out of it, get this:
You are worth saving. You are worth the life you want. You are better than you think you are. You are the most important person on this planet.
There is nothing you can say that will convince me otherwise. It is because of the pain and struggles, the small and big victories, the complete emotional, mental, and physical transformation I experienced in my journey that drives me to do what I do. I want this for you. I know you can do this. And you know what? I still have my days when I’m not that happy with myself. That is part of being human. What I don’t do is let that rule me. I feel it. I recognize it for what it is. I use it as leverage to push myself back to where I need to be: healthy and at peace.
Why is this important to me? We are a connected species. Your life matters to me because you are me, and I am you. The outside doesn’t matter, I don’t give a rat’s ass if you are brown or white, short or tall, rich or not, fat or skinny. You are a person and you matter. We are only as good as our most vulnerable individual. Your growth, your success, your strength, your beauty shines and I can feel the heat and it warms me. I know, this sounds like uncomfortable touchy-feely-hippy-bullshit. If this makes you uncomfortable, that is good. That means you know somewhere inside you I’m right and you want this, too. You can do this. Everyone who has told you otherwise is wrong. Deep down in the recesses of your heart and mind, those places you keep private, you know this. If you didn’t, you would have not clicked on the link that brought you here and you sure in the hell would have stopped reading by now. You didn’t. That is your first step. Build on it.
I say in my videos to look in the mirror every night before bed, look that person reflected back in the eye, and tell them you love them. Do it out loud. This isn’t corny, there’s actually science behind it. When you hear a repetitive thing, it sticks. Yup, just like all those negative things you’ve been told in the past. They stick with you and they alter your thoughts. I know, it’s easier to believe the negative than the positive, that’s what we are used to and as screwed up as it sounds, that is what we are comfortable with, even though it is damaging us. We need to undo that damage. This is how we do it. We tell ourselves we love us until it becomes something we actually believe. This is the first step in having the life you want, you need, and most of all, you deserve.
I think I’m going to stop right here for this post. I want you to think on what I’ve said so far. I want you to marinate it like a nice piece of chicken :). Tomorrow, I’ll get into calories, protein, fat, how to set yourself up to get where you need to be, and the science behind why these are all important pieces. After that, I’ll do one on how to stay where you need to be, what to do if things get a little out of whack, and how you can look back 10 years later and say “damnit, I did this.” Love yourself. Believe in yourself. I already do.