Q: How tall are you?
A: 5’5. Well, 5’4.75, but we’ll round up for my vanity.
Q: How long did it take you to lose 100 pounds?
A: A little over 2.5 years. I started in March 2014, and hit 100 pounds down on my birthday, November 4, 2016.
Q: Do you count calories? Or just carbs? Net carbs or total carbs?
A: I track calories, carbs, fat, and protein – all the macros. I use MyFitness Pal to keep it all sorted. I keep my net carbs at 20g a day or maybe 25g if I really pushed myself at the gym – but I also keep an eye on total carbs and try to stay under 50g/day of those to make sure I’m not relying TOO much on fiber and sugar alcohols. Having like, 100g total carbs a day – even if it worked out to 15g net somehow – would probably mess with ketosis for me.
(As of January 2018, I’m giving zero carb/carnivore keto a shot! Just a little experiment for a while until I get bored with it. I eat meat, eggs, cheese, and fats – trying to keep my carbs as close to 0 as possible)
Q: Do you use ketostix?
A: Nope! I talk about these more in this post, but I don’t monitor my ketone levels at all. I want keto to be a lifestyle – a way of eating – and if I get all wrapped up in constantly worrying about my “number,” it won’t be sustainable for me. Someday I may invest in a blood meter if I get super stalled on keto (and bored. and rich. and suddenly ok with the idea of stabbing my fingers all the time) but for now, I just stick with eating low carb and high fat.
Q: How do I get into ketosis?
A: Follow a ketogenic diet. It’ll happen.
Q: What’s your MyFitness Pal name? Can I add you?
A: I don’t give it out all willy-nilly readily available anymore – I did in the past and had some issues with people adding me on there for… not fitness reasons, and a few who just wanted another way to send me mean/nasty comments. Please ask via DM and I’ll probably give it to you – especially if you’re on keto.
Q: How many calories do you eat per day?
A: Currently 1440, and you can see how I got that number in this post right here!
Q: So should I eat that many calories too?
A: Maybe! Go check out a macro calculator (I compare four of them in this post) and see what numbers it gives you 🙂 Unless you’re my exact height, weight, activity level, and body fat %, my macros may not be your macros.
Q: What’s your exercise routine?
A: I’m doing the Strongcurves program by Bret Contreras, aka the Glute Guy. He knows his butts! And I want a butt. Perfect. I did Stronglifts 5×5 for a long time, but got bored with it. It’s a great program, but I felt…stagnant. So I switched 🙂
When I first joined a gym (in June 2016, already 90lbs down), I started off by just doing cardio – usually the elliptical, because it’s easier on joints than the treadmill – and would do that until I got tired. An hour or so. Then eventually I wanted to use some weight machines, so I’d people-watch and see how other people were doing it. If I really wasn’t sure, I’d look up the machine on youtube and see how to use it. Then I’d… do it until my muscles hurt, and use another one. There’s really been no ‘gym plan’ for me for a long time! I’d do literally whatever I wanted to do. It showed….minimal results, as you can imagine.
Q: What kind of watch do you use at the gym?
A: I used to use a Polar ft60 but now I have a Fitbit Charge 2! Here’s the band that I use.
Q: How does it compare to a fitbit? Which should I get?
A: I liked the Polar for when I was just going to the gym for my activity, and I was unemployed so I had plenty of time to move around throughout the day. Eventually, I stopped using it because I was getting into the “I burned so many calories, I can eat a little more…. and a little more……and everything I see….” mindset. After getting an office job at which I sit for literally 8 straight hours (with a 1-hour commute, sitting, each way), I realized that my hour in the gym really wasn’t offsetting my sedentary worklife. I like that the Fitbit counts steps all day and monitors my heart rate. I track my workouts on there to hit my weekly workout goal, but I don’t pay any attention to the calories. I have activity factored into my caloric intake; no need to eat them back.
If you just want to know what you’re doing in the gym – the Polar is fine. It has a chest heart rate strap, so you can’t wear it all the time; that’s not practical. It’s also good if you swim a lot for your exercise. The Fitbit isn’t waterproof.
If you want to focus on total daily activity, not just in the gym, then the Fitbit may be more your style. There are other brands that do the same thing, too, but I love the social aspect of the Fitbit app. So many people have one! I like the step challenges.
Q: How did you get started? What did you do?
A: I wrote a longer blog post about this a while ago, but here’s the jist: I was unhappy, I saw /r/keto on reddit, I read about it, got MyFitness Pal, and… did it. I didn’t phase out carbs, or do a transition period. One day: carbs. The next day: keto.
In the beginning, I had eggs for breakfast a lot (and bacon, ofc); usually a salad with fatty dressing for lunch; and some sort of meat + veg for dinner (steak and zucchini, taco salad, bunless burger, chicken sausage with cucumber salad).
Q: Was it hard to get used to?
A: Well, kind of. I missed the convenience of carbs – you can’t just order a pizza, or grab a bag of chips, or run to Taco Bell. It’s a lot more cooking and prepping than I was used to, but I actually came to really enjoy that. I like cooking, and I like making things, but I never knew how… so keto was a learning experience for me that ended up being really delicious and made me lose weight 😀
And I’ve always loved fatty foods (my dad hates them so they were banned from my house as a kid…. so guess what I sought out at every opportunity) so I had no trouble on that front.
Q: Do you follow a meal plan? Can you make me one?
A: I don’t! Never have. I know that ibreatheimhungry.com and ruled.me have beginner meal plans available to get you started on keto, and they’re also full of recipes! I’ve personally never liked being told *exactly* what to eat, and I spend a lot of my free time thinking about food – so I’d just spend the day looking at recipes and deciding what to make for dinner. I don’t try new recipes very often anymore; I have kind of a keto arsenal of go-to meals that work for me.
As for making you a meal plan…. listen, I hate to seem mean, but if I don’t even do it for me, I’m not going to do it for you – and if I did, it wouldn’t be free.
Q: How do you get back to keto after a cheat/binge/the holidays/the weekend?
A: You just have to grit your teeth and *do it* sometimes, unfortunately. There’s no real easy answer for this. After a cheat, I usually feel like garbage – which is extra motivation to get back to keto, because it makes me feel better. Same with a binge: that comes with a lot of guilt, and eating how I know I “should” eat makes me feel better. I also keep a little sticker chart on my wall – on days that I am ‘good’ (stick to calories and carbs), I get a star. On days that I don’t…. no star. I’m very motivated by little rewards like that, so it makes me REALLY want to get a star everyday. It seems silly and childish to motivate yourself with shiny stickers, but hey! Whatever works 🙂
Q: What’s your biggest keto challenge and how do you work through it?
A: Honestly, the FOMO – fear of missing out. It sucks to be out with friends and see them enjoying their delicious desserts, but there’s nothing sugar-free on the menu for me to enjoy so I’m stuck sipping my diet coke. Those are the moments that I’m most tempted to cheat – it’s not that I really want the cookie or whatever, it’s that I don’t want to feel excluded. But in those moments, I just have to suck it up and either plan out a great keto dessert for when I get home; excuse myself from the night and leave (whatever, by dessert time it’s over, no need for me to be at the table forever); or find something else to occupy me. If I have to drink 5 diet cokes for dessert to avoid eating carbs, I’ll do that.
When going to dinners or events where I can bring my own food (like a potluck, or Thanksgiving), I’ll just check with the host and make sure it’s alright – then bring a keto-friendly dish and make sure that’s on my plate. I had mashed cauliflower, low-carb stuffing, homemade sugar-free cranberry sauce, and sugar-free pecan pie at Thanksgiving. It was fine! I didn’t WANT the carby desserts; I had my own. (I mean, I ended up accidentally having a dessert that had WAY more sugar than my mom led me to believe – but that’s a different story).
Q: What is keto?
A: ????? You can Google this????? REALLY?????
Q: What did you pack to eat at work?
A: Ok, I had a weird job (in grad school) where I worked by myself for 2.5-12 hours at a time, and I ate by myself, no break room or anything… so lunch wasn’t a huge deal. I’d usually have a protein bar during a short shift, or I’d take a low carb wrap or salad for a longer shift where I’d need more sustenance. Nothing that needed refrigeration, because that wasn’t available to me.
I got an office job in March and now I have fridges available to me, and most days I’ll bring a salad for lunch. Sometimes leftovers, like crack slaw, and or I’ll have a wrap. Aaaaand there’s an In N Out 2 miles away, so I go there about once a week 😆
Q: How did your friends/family react to keto? To your weight loss?
A: They were/are supportive! My grandma, a very healthy (mostly) vegetarian who has long believed low-fat is the way to live is the most…. resistant to my food, but not outright rude. She just doesn’t *get* it, really. But she says she clearly can’t argue with the results, so whatever I’m doing must be working – as long as I’m healthy (which I am!).
My parents were very curious because they both grew up during the whole War On Fat – fat is bad, low-fat is good, non-fat is best; etc etc etc. So then suddenly having their fat daughter go “No actually it’s good for you and actually makes you lose weight” was a bit of a shock, I think. But they kinda stood back and watched and let me do my own thing – and as I clearly lost weight on it and felt better (my change in sleep patterns was a big plus for the whole family), they could tell that it was working just fine.
As for reacting to my weight loss – same thing. Everyone’s been happy and supportive for/of me, as far as I know. No Jealous Jennies who wanted to sabotage me; no friends who got distant now that I wasn’t their DUFF (designated ugly fat friend) anymore. It’s been really great. And of course – my bf has supported me the whole way too, and he’s a ketoer himself now!
Q: Have you had any surgery?
A: Nope! No weight loss surgery, no skin surgery. I’ll probably look into getting a brachioplasty + breast augmentation down the line, as those are the areas on me that bother me most. I have loose skin; it is what it is. For losing what I have, it’s really not bad. Everyone is different! Stay hydrated and use lotion – dry skin is less elastic (although my bf has lost 150+ pounds, has minimal [visible] loose skin, and apparently has NEVER USED LOTION IN HIS LIFE, the lucky duck. Those skin genetics tho).
Q: How do you handle shark week (aka that Time of the Month)?
A: Ok, be prepared to hate me… my period is really no big deal. It never has been. I’ve had cramps maybe… 5 times in my life. So I really just treat it like any other day. I’m sorry I’m no help on this one!
Sometimes I’ll crave chocolate – so I budget some dark chocolate into my day. If I feel awful and don’t want to workout, I’ll try for an easier cardio day (endorphins help with pain, which I know is not what you want to hear when you’re in pain, but it’s true) or if it were really bad, I’d take a rest day. Maybe do a yoga video from Youtube? I think some keto girls I followed on tumblr would give themselves an extra 100-200 calories a day on shark week to help with hunger; some would stock up on Russel Stover’s sugar free chocolate and use pork rinds as their crunchy+salty snack.
Q: Omg, isn’t your cholesterol awful?
A: NOPE. My cholesterol is great! Totally healthy and normal. The idea that saturated fats and dietary cholesterol = clogged arteries and poor heart health is a M Y T H that has been disproved many times since it was introduced in the 50s…but there’s a big long explanation behind why it’s still so pervasive (blog post to come!). You can thank the asshole Ancel Keys and his dumb “Seven Countries Study” for the myth. It’s junk science, and it sucks. ANYWAY. I recommend reading “Cholesterol Clarity” by Jimmy Moore for the *real* information about cholesterol, and how a high-(healthy!) fat diet is actually much more beneficial to your heart than any of the low-fat, over-processed, high-carb crap being peddled today as ~heart-healthy.~ That’s right; my bacon is better for my heart health than your Cheerios are, and you’ll never ever catch me taking a statin drug.
Q: Wait, why do you drink salt water?!
A: Short answer: electrolytes. Longer answer: eeellleeeccctttrrrooolllyyyttteeesss. Haha, kidding! Ok, this is not scientific at all, this is just how I understand it: keto affects how your body stores electrolytes. Like, salt kind of… sticks… To carbs. High salt and high carbs = bloating and water retention. But without the carbs to stick to on keto, your body dumps electrolytes a lot faster, so you have to replenish more often to keep your levels in check! Also, one of my medications has a side effect of low blood sodium, so salt is *crucial* to me. I add about 1/2 tsp of Himalayan pink salt to each liter of water, and drink that throughout the day. It’s basically Gatorade with no flavoring or color. And yes, it tastes salty – but it’s not like sea water. It’s lightly salted. I like the taste, tbh! Getting low on salt makes me extremely fatigued, grouchy, foggy, and overall awful. So I aim for 5,000mg of sodium a day (I track this on MFP too!) to feel good.
(UPDATE January 2018: I don’t really do this anymore since switching my macros to higher protein. With higher fat/lower protein, my body loved salt. With higher protein/lower fat, it doesn’t! Experiment to find what works for you)