• jennallenpilates

My Experience on the Ketogenic Diet

As a personal trainer, weight management coach, and Pilates Teacher, I like to keep tabs on all the different diet trends out there regarding weight loss and management. I like to call it "weight management" because as I get older, I can't really slack off on my eating plan or my weight will sky-rocket in no time. Some of the programs I had myself on and recommended to my clients with success included The Fast Metabolism Diet and The Whole 30. I found that those required continuous planning and were labor-intensive. They were each successful for two or three iterations, but didn't seem sustainable to me or the people with whom I was working. For both of those programs, there were online resources where we could see shared experiences, recipes, and general encouragement. After my last experience with The Whole 30, I immediately fell off the wagon and gained about ten pounds over the course of the next year. This didn't classify me as being overweight, but I didn't feel my best and wasn't thrilled about how my clothes were fitting.

About six weeks ago, one of my original Pilates clients, who I hadn't seen consistently for a couple of years, began to come back to me for regular Pilates sessions. Not long before that, I had seen her at one of my kids' school events and I was amazed! She had always been petite, but now she looked like a model! Her husband had also lost a lot of weight and he looked like a model too. Both in their fifties, I was seeing an unusual increase in vibrancy and confidence from them. I asked them what they'd been doing and they told me it was a ketogenic diet. My brother's girlfriend at the time, who is a holistic cardiologist, had recommended this program before, but it was these friends who demonstrated the results so dramatically and inspired me. I decided to try it in an attempt to lose the eight or ten pounds that had crept back onto my body over the last year or so.

The first several days seemed easy regarding the task of finding things to eat. I was experimenting with recipes that involved almost no carbs, but had a significant amount of cheese and other dairy products along with meat and vegetables such as cauliflower and other low-carbohydrate veggies. I was surprised that the dairy really didn't bother me at all. My sinuses didn't feel stuffy and my joints didn't hurt like they did previously whenever I had eaten ice cream or other dairy products that contained sugar. I came to realize that the dairy hadn't been bothering me. It was the carbs! I am a BIG chip person, so one thing that helped me was discovering a couple different baked and seasoned pork rind varieties that I surprisingly liked. The pit fall that I experienced was that, although I was easily staying under the correct amount of carbs each day, I was slacking on eating the vegetables. There were a couple of days that I didn't eat a single vegetable until dinner time! One way that I found to combat this was to slice cucumbers, celery, and raw broccoli in advance so that I could grab those for quick snacks.

For the first couple of weeks on this program, I was very sleepy, tired, and sluggish and barely had any energy to exercise. I reminded myself to drink more water and be patient with the transitional period. Shortly after that, I felt back to normal regarding energy levels minus the hyperactivity I had felt before I started this program. For a forty-eight year old, you might describe hyperactivity as feeling like you are going to bounce off the walls. This is not so great when you are responsible for driving kids around in a mini-van. I now felt more serene, which is a quality that I am valuing more and more as I age. If you had mentioned the word serenity as being an important quality to have ten or fifteen years ago, I would've stared at you like a deer in the headlights.

Now, another surprising benefit of the keto diet is that it is fun! There is a Facebook community group called "Keto for Beginners" that I love. There are literally thousands of people commenting and giving advice as well as dozens of people every day posting their before and after photos, sharing inspirational or funny quotes, and offering encouragement.

Last night, I fell of the wagon quite a bit. For the Thanksgiving holiday, I had planned to drive six hours with my two daughters yesterday to visit my mom in Fernandina Beach, FL. We took a short walk on the beach after we arrived, and then my mom had to go to choir practice, so the three of us had planned to go out to dinner. My husband and son weren't coming down until today and my oldest was craving shrimp, so we decided to go to the new Salt Life Restaurant since it was recommended by my mom's neighbor, Bill. I made a great decision with the Ahi Tuna sesame salad, but blew it a little bit by ordering a skinny margarita which tasted way too sweet to me. That would have been fine, except that it lowered my inhibitions and led to me eating some chocolate (the cheap high carbohydrate kind) and drinking some Pinot Grigio when I got back to my mom's house. We were watching a movie and I began mindlessly going back and forth to the fridge to get another one of those mini Snickers and Milky Way Bars. I probably only had about five of those little chocolate bars, but it was enough for me to feel like crap by the time I went to bed. It took my at least an extra hour to fall asleep.

You might be thinking, "Well she fell of the wagon. She might as well blow off the whole week while she is on vacation." To that I say, "Nope!" I am back on track this morning and already feeling better. I've lost about four pounds on the program and don't want to gain it back. On Thanksgiving, I plan to have a small taste of mashed potatoes that my brother will make and a few bites of the pies that my mom always makes with my kids...pumpkin, pecan, and minced meat. The old me would have eaten at least one half of each of those pies and then started a fight with my mom. My family knows this about me! I'll let you know how it goes later this week. :)

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