28 Days Low-Carb/Keto

iLast time I did low-carb, I also crossed the 28 day mark. And I was doing OK, but wasn’t feeling confident in the path. I believe by this point, I’d gained back the few pounds of water weight I dropped in the first week (never lost additional weight), and I was hungry, tired, and stressed.

The only difference this time? Well, first, I’ve been doing several runs at fasting in the meantime. Short intermittent daily fasts, not eating from dinner until lunch the next day. 24-48 hour mini-fasts. And one longer (I believe 12 days) fast. I think these fasts helped shift me and my food mindset, and as a whole, helped me drop about 10-12 pounds. First weight I’ve lost in 5+ years. But, man, what a grind. Going on and off of fasts is tough (except dinner to lunch wasn’t too bad for me). You’re always in the pain of starting a fast. But longer fasts caused my hair to thin. The science behind fasting is to help fix insulin issues. So once I’d done this fasting show for about six months, I was ready to do low carb again. 

This time, without exercise, the other thing different from my first attempt.

I’d noticed others eating low carb weren’t exercising and were seeing good results. After some research, many recommend doing little to no exercise until you’re “fat adapted” which, on average, takes 1-4 months. At that point, start weight lifting. 

And I think going into this NOT exercising made me more diligent on the food. I planned well. I had time to pay attention to how I felt. I could go to bed earlier. And, I had more time for housework, which has made the entire journey so satisfying. I’ve never been more organized! 

My focus at work has also been excellent, and I’m very productive, while feeling positive and relaxed. My anxiety has taken a huge dip, which is so fantastic. 

I did have one day of total meltdown, and with the help of Gary Taubes and some self-reflecting I’ve also been better at, didn’t give up. My weight loss is slow for low-carb, but average for weight loss with other diets. And hearing some of Gary’s research has really set the course for me. Specifically, this YouTube video:

He talks about the time it takes for your insulin to heal and when it does, and it will, you’ll start to drop fat. You can eat more and still lose, and because you’re not eating carbs, you’re more satisfied. 

I had some urges to exercise this weekend, but instead got a huge chunk of yard work done on an unexpectedly warm day. I also drank alcohol Saturday, and on a normal Sunday, would have ben horribly hungover. But surprisingly wasn’t. I did the yard work, and some other housework, and came out feeling satisfied with my weekend! How strange.

So where am I weight loss wise? Well, I lost about 2 1/2-3 lbs quickly, which was water weight. I’m sitting right at 5 lbs down, total. Maybe closer to six on a great day, but I’m definitely down 5. So, 2-2 1/2 pounds the first month. I’ll take it! And I’ll stop comparing myself to others. And even in the low-carb/keto world, people can’t let go some of the unhealthy diet approaches – eat less than 1200 calories, chug water to feel full, exercise more to make a deficit. I’m not following the leads of those people. 

I will continue to eat less carbs (less than 20g net per day), I won’t get caught up in protein, fat, or specific types of foods until I stall for more than a month, I will add in strength training when I have consistent hugh energy, I will keep prioritizing sleep, I will keep planning a varied menu, I will keep foods as simple as possible, and I will be pleased with ANY loss, no matter how slow. I WILL NOT become a braggy, snobby weight loss person. I will remember how hard it was to find a place where I lose, and if it works, keep it up! 

Emotions Of Weight Loss Attempts

Weight loss is emotional. No, scratch that, attempting and struggling with weight loss is emotional. I hate every minute of feeling like a failure. I hate comparing myself to others even when I know I shouldn’t. I hate not knowing the right way. But you know what I hate the most? The dismissiveness of everyone around me when I’m struggling. They tell me to simply eat less. Eat less? Why would I be eating more than I need to? Why? I want to lose weight, and your advice is to eat less. Thanks. Super helpful. 

I hate trying to lose weight because I suck so much at it. Fifteen years ago, weight loss was super easy. I just watched what I ate, but I never starved, and it worked out a few days a week. Being in my twenties was fantastic. 

Now, I struggle with overwhelming fatigue if I workout. I’m hungry when I try to cut back on food. And the weight doesn’t come off. Compound that with a very predatory industry, and the condescension of people who lose easily? This is why I decide being fat ain’t all bad. 

I’m emotional right now. But not quitting. I’m exhausted with people suggesting I starve, because I won’t. I’ve been through this enough times to know that’s not sustainable. I’m annoyed with it not coming easy like it does for the assholes who judge, because they will truly never know. They can eat their candy and vending machine food and boxed pasta dishes and keep thinking I’m lazy. I know I’m not. Somehow that’s not enough. But it’s all I have. 

New Year: Low-Carb, No Exercise, Respect the Food Allergies

I have no idea why I never stumbled on this approach before. I feel like it’s been staring me in the face since this fatigue stuff started. But, somehow, I never saw it. I wonder what other things I’m doing to myself that’s counter to my goals, but feels like I HAVE to keep doing. Let’s not go there. We don’t have that kind of time or introspection.

I’ve been struggling to lose weight for the past five or six years. I mean, it’s been a struggle since college, but usually all I had to do was eat less and exercise more. And boom, weight loss. And eating less never meant starving. I still ate most of the things I liked, just in smaller portions, less often, etc. It did take some work and focus, I had to be intentional. But it was truly never that hard. I usually fell off the wagon because it always feels “cool” to eat whatever I want. That’s how they portray “cool girls” on TV shows and in movies. They don’t worry about diets or counting calories. And are effortlessly thin. I know, I know, I know. I’m not effortlessly thin. And I also know most actresses aren’t either. SO WHY DOES HOLLYWOOD DO THAT TO US? Stop pretending there’s some sort of liberation in binge eating shitty food. It’s unhealthy. And not cool. Or cute. Or funny. If a fat lady did that it would be “so disgusting.” So. Just. Stop.

Off soapbox.

Anyway, the point is, I could go in out of more strict eating. Usually exercising fairly consistently along the way. I have always liked being active, strong, flexible, having endurance. But as the fatigue creeped up, I found myself struggling to keep up my former pace. And then I’d find myself heavier, and again, cutting back more on exercise. I’d still workout most weeks. On good weeks, 3ish times. On bad weeks, I’d normally still at least START a few workouts, usually pushing through even when my body would cry mercy.

And you know what? It didn’t help. More

Post-Fast – Retained Results, New Exercise and Diet

I lost a solid six to eight pounds after my fast. I was very pleased with that. It was tough at first thinking of it like I gained back twelve to fourteen pounds, but those pounds weren’t ever mine to have lost. Overall, the fast was hard, but I’m glad I did it. If I did it again, I’d probably do a bunch of shorter timeframe, more frequent fasts than another 1-2 week one. Maybe 1-3 day fasts.

Right now I’m mostly just doing intermittent fasting where I skip breakfast a few days a week, and I try to be honest with myself with dinner – if I’m not hungry, don’t eat. I’m trying to eat less bread and pasta as a general approach, and more salads with lots of fats, moderate protein, and carbs only coming from the veggies. But I am also occasionally having pizza. Or Mexican food. Or any other food I REALLY want. But I’m trying to have a realistic, healthy approach, and not watching diet a lot more than that. So far weight’s holding steady, and I’m pleased with that.

I had been doing a few workout videos a week and some heavy deadlifts. I am a big fan of Metabolic Effect. I’ve bought a few programs in the past, read most of Jade’s articles, and used one of his techniques in my battle against adrenal fatigue. It’s still one I use today. I monitor my heart rate during a workout, and if it doesn’t return to normal within a few minutes of resting, I call it a day for workouts. He seems to have several approaches you can employ, and I do believe there are many ways to healthy, but I decided to give his Metabolic Prime workout a shot. More

Emotional Overload

Well, today I cracked. Took me five days, but I did. And not even for anything delicious. Just an OK lunch. It was a combo of frustration, being tired, annoyance and just downright overall sick of my job. Several people are pretty unhappy with their jobs, and I think our frustration feeds one another. I think the tipping point for me was being tired. 

I ate lunch out. Then had some chocolate. Sad part is, it didn’t satisfy me, so I ended up eating my salad later in the day anyway. 

I had a fairly light dinner. And did a short workout after work. Neither to punish myself. More because I’m trying to listen to my body more.  I’ll likely have a small snack after hitting the grocery store. 

I’ll try to do better and handle it better tomorrow. 

Thirst and Caffeine

I’m on my fourth post-fast day, and feel pretty good. Struggling to get active again and workout, but I did an easier workout yesterday, and am doing weights today. Once I get going, working out is usually easy for me to sustain.

I lost 20 pounds on the dot on the fast. I was into my twelfth day when I decided to throw in the towel. I have gained five back. It’s easy to focus on the regain. But I keep telling myself, “You’re still down fifteen, and maybe after you settle into low carb, you’ll get some of those five back.” (Hopefully plus more.) 

But I’m not here to talk about weight. I know that’s what people want to hear, so I said it. But I wanted to talk about thirst and caffeine. Strange topics, but I think worthy.

First, thirst. The last few days of my fast, my mouth felt constantly dry. And I felt blah and my urine was always darker. I thought this was the reason for my nausea. But now I don’t think it is. As I’ve started to eat again, I know my electrolytes are shifting. I’ve had some really low (top number) blood pressure numbers, and with that, a slight amount of dizziness after standing. That’s all adjusted now. I’ll talk more about blood pressure in a minute. What I really want to talk about is thirst.

I wasn’t terribly thirst on Friday, or even most of the day Saturday. But Saturday evening I was so thirsty. And despite drinking more than enough water, far more than I ever did, and eating water-filled veggies, my urine was darker than it usually is with that kind of consumption.

This morning I rationalized it, along with my weight gain, as my glycogen stores refilling with water. I’m not as thirsty today, but my urine is still darker (no dehydration dark, just not light), so my goal is to get to a better place with that before working out. 

Now, blood pressure, which isn’t the second topic, but worth discussing. Pre-fast, my blood pressure was in the high 120s to high 130s over mid 80s to low 90s. I never really got my low number below 80, even while fasting when the top number plummeted. I was disappointed in that. Yesterday’s reading was 102/80. Today’s was 116/82. So creeping right up to the top of the normal range quickly on the top number. And already over on the bottom. I’m hopeful exercise will help stabilize both. I know I want to improve endurance with some cardio, and that will definitely help. I also plan to lift weights, which I know is good for the heart. So hopefully, along with hopefully more weight loss, I can get in at least a lower range of “slightly high” rather than “probably need blood pressure medicine soon” range. I am hopeful my my second weird post-fast change will complement improving that issue: caffeine.

I’ve drank caffeine every day for years. I feel like I need it to wake up. And unless I’m sick, I always have it. However, the last few days of the fast when I felt so sick, I actually said, “I think I’ve had too much caffeine this week, and not enough water.” That’s the day I broke the fast. The next morning, I felt a lot better, but the thought of caffeine made me feel sick, so I didn’t have any. I didn’t even get a caffeine headache. 

I haven’t had caffeine for almost three days, and I feel like I’m free from a vice I never want back! I do think not being caffeinated is making me less motivated to workout, but I think I can get over that hurdle. 

So, that’s it! Goal is one workout today that takes my breath away (might not take much) and makes me sweat. I want to get in that groove quickly and regain lost muscle. I also want to eat lower carb this week. I’m not sure about adding fasting in, yet. If I do, it will be skipping breakfast. Even if I don’t, I’d love to get some pre-breakfast workouts in as well! Overall, so far, I’m glad I did the fast. As long as weight gain plateus soon, I’ll have a net loss. And kicked caffeine (for now, it’ll just take one night of bad sleep for me to want it again, I know – they trick then is to not go back to daily just because). 

Breaking the Fast

I made it into but not through the twelfth day of my fast. And honestly, mental frustration won. I was sick of feeling sick to my stomach every day at 3:00 into the evening. No idea why that time, but when I’m in training sessions until 4:30, it was really taxing and all I could think about. Today’s nausea was the worst it’s been beyond end of last week. 

I also mowed my lawn last night because it needed done. I felt fine during, but after my shower my lower back muscles cramped up. And I’ll be honest, that freaked me out. They weren’t just sore, they were seized up. Not like my back went out. All muscle. It sounds silly, but I felt like that was the sign to quit but felt too awful to get to the store, so I decided to wait until tonight and end it tonight or tomorrow. I was terrified to eat at work in case my stomach revolted. I’m pretty sure it was electrolyte related, despite drinking electrolyte water ever couple of days (which gave me stomach upset and gas). I didn’t want to take more, and after today’s nausea, decided it was time. 

I went shopping after work and probably bought the best spread of fruits, veggies and dairy I’ve ever bought. I’ll buy some protein this weekend. 

Tonight I ate the tiniest meal I’ve ever eaten. About 1/4 of a cup of roasted (under a broiler) zucchini and squash. And about two strawberries and 1/4 of a banana. 

I was under the impression food would taste delicious, but without the natural return of hunger many get, and the nausea, I shouldn’t be surprised it didn’t. The banana didn’t taste great, but it’s what I wanted the most – I assume for the potassium. I wasn’t excited to eat more fruit than veggies, or really any fruit at all. But I had to start somewhere. 

Tomorrow for lunch, if I’m hungry, I’ll eat a banana and maybe some cucumber slices with salt. I’m anxious to try some fat, and think a banana and peanut butter sounds delicious, but want to wait for dinner. I have a mashed potato soup that’s pretty basic (potassium!). Maybe sprinkled with a tiny bit of shaved parmesan to start dairy again. And I’ll either have some avocado or a banana with peanut butter to get into some fat. 

I’m really craving a salad so if cucumbers go well, I’ll do a very simple salad with lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, and maybe a small amount of shredded cheese with a vinegar and oil seasoned dressing. And I’ll try a small amount of my homemade lower carb yogurt with…. Something to sweeten it. It’s really tart. Like eating sour cream. I guess I could go savory? I’ll figure it out! 

If that goes well, on Sunday I’ll have the REAL salad I want, same ingredients plus avocado, some chicken and my low carb ranch dressing. I want to move into low carb semi-quickly. So if chicken and ranch go well, I’ll add in a low-carb cauliflower soup that has dairy with a side of protein. 

If that goes well, on Monday I might try stuff a bit more spicy.  Maybe some grilled protein, sauted onions, salsa, avocados, and yogurt (plain so it’s basically sour cream). And some roasted broccoli to get higher fiber.  And maybe I’ll consider a stir fry of some kind. If I get here, I’ll be mostly back to eating normal, and hopefully working out. If that’s true, I’ll stay low carb and do 16:8 intermittent fasting. 

The less healthy foods I’m craving, but am not sure I’d even eat if they were in front of me:

  • Pizza
  • Sandwiches with lots of mayo or italian dressing 
  • Fries
  • Fried mozzarella sticks
  • Spicy chicken tenders
  • Toast with a variety of different toppings: peanut butter, or cinnamon sugar, or jelly
  • A variety of Chinese, Mexican and Italian food 
  • And basically anything bready with gooey-ness on top

I think I miss the textures of those foods. 

My other big plans: lift weights! I miss having no stamina. Simple things made me winded. So hopefully work on running soon. And simply building strength. 

Other than that, I lost 18 pounds in 11ish days. At the beginning I lost fast. Then 2ish pounds a day that slowly dropped to about 1.2 this morning. I only felt great one day of the fast. I felt way better energy and focus wise most of the time than I expected. I was surprised by how wiped I got doing things like changing clothes, bending over, even talking after walking across the room. I had some decent nausea about five days, mostly in afternoons. I think I killed my electrolyte balance. I didn’t sleep great probably 75% of the time. And… I only measure seven places on my body, my trouble spots (four are below my breasts and above my hips). And I lost zero inches in those. None. Another reason I decided I needed to get back to lifting and sleeping better. I can see loss in my top, but not in the breasts or immediate waist area, it seems above the breasts?? And I see water loss in my hands and ankles. 

Overall, it’s my longest fast by more than double. I’m glad I did it because it’s empowering knowing you don’t have to eat. I feel like I dealt with some of my emotional eating and felt my root problem became cravings, which I’m starting a dopamine-related supplement to try to counter. 

I want to move forward with intermittent fasting (16:8, for example) and maybe 24-36 hour fasts once a week or so. I also want to do lower carb most of the time, with occasional planned cheat meals. Meaning less emotional and craving related and less often. 

I’ll be interested to see how much weight I gain back if I transition to low carb and lift and do some cardio..With my last fasts, I gained around 2 back but dropped them back in a few weeks with exercise and sort fasting…. Then stalled.  I’ll post in a week or so about that. 

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