Yesterday (12/28) marked two years since I first weighed myself, so I consider that the start of my Keto journey. I’d started the diet about a month prior in November 2018, but didn’t weigh myself at the start for fear of discouraging myself (as an aside: Weigh yourself or at least take pictures/measurements. It’s my number one regret, aside from not starting Keto earlier, ‘natch).
A bit of background: I’ve posted about Keto before, and I’m what you’d call a “Keto Lifer.” I started out in Fall 2018 after seeing a picture that my daughter took of me in less-than great shape. Additionally, I’d been experiencing some negative health symptoms:
- Poor sleep/snoring: I was a ridiculously loud snorer. So much so that when I stayed with friends they’d force me to stay at the far end of the house, or suffer through wearing earplugs.
- Asthma: Simple tasks like walking up hills and tying shoes left me out of breath and reaching for my inhaler.
- Poorly healing cuts, skin issues, etc.: Probably the most concerning, given this can be an indication of pre-diabetes.
I’d done Atkins around 2003 to great success (lost ~35-50 pounds; never weighed myself), and in 2018 a couple of friends and family were doing Keto and seeing results, so with my previous knowledge about some of the basics of low-carb, I dove right in.
I can break my two years down into three, eight-month time periods (convenient, I know!). Dropping the weight, maintenance, recomposition.
Dropping the weight (November 2018-June 2019):
In the first eight months, I was able to drop about 50 pounds, reaching my initial goal weight of 175 in June 2019. From November 2018 to March 2019, I did not track or weigh food; I just focused on staying under 20 net carbs. I’d managed to see very solid progress up until March, when I went through my first mini-stall. Some of it was just the normal fits and starts of weight loss; weight loss isn’t linear after all. Some of it was still drinking a bit too much alcohol, even if I kept it mostly to vodka and low carb beer. So from March through June, I cut down on the booze. I also started increasing cardio, as I was fat adapted at that point and felt almost the urge to exercise. So to the treadmill I went. After that, the weight started melting off.
Looking back, one thing that was a problem was not eating enough. I was consuming around 1300-1400 calories per day, and while the weight came off, I likely wasn’t getting enough protein or nutrients, so I likely lost muscle. This surely contributed to some issues as started the maintenance/exercise phase of my journey.
“What the hell do I do now?” (July 2019-March 2020)
Once I’d reached my (initial) goal weight of 175, I was in the “what now” phase of my journey. I knew I wasn’t going to start carb loading on pizza and mac & cheese (my SAD staples), so I decided to KOKO while increasing my calories and cardio. Because my deficit was so high, increasing my calories while doing more cardio still resulted in weight loss. I decided I wanted to do a 5k at the end of August, so I started working towards that, progressively increasing the distance on my runs. I was able to do my first 5k (with a few walking periods) in California while visiting family!
Once fall 2019 came around, I had lost another 10-12 pounds so I was down to about 160 give or take. But I was not satisfied with my body composition. I’d never had a truly muscular physique, and the years of poor eating combined with the lack of protein/lifting during weight loss had left me skinny fat. So I decided to do a high-volume lifting program called nSuns. I started very low (squatting the bar) to relearn form, and from September 2019 through December 2019, saw some great strength (newbie) gains. Unfortunately, I injured my shoulder in December and had to take about six weeks off lifting.
I also suffered my first weight-gain in that period. In September I also met someone and we started dating. Unfortunately, she was VERY anti-Keto. I let that influence me over the holidays, and from Thanksgiving until December 29 (oddly enough); I put on about 15 pounds. That’s not to say it’s her fault; I was the one stuffing Christmas cookies and fudge into my mouth. But sometimes those closest to us can be negative influences. Fortunately, as the New Year hit I resolved to lose those pounds, and by February 2020, they were mostly gone.
Managing corona mania (March 2020-Present)
Just as I’d recovered from my injury, the pandemic hit, and shut down all gyms. While I wasn’t worried about my diet per se, I was VERY concerned about keeping up with a workout routine. After a month or so of trying out various bodyweight routines, I invested in a set of resistance bands, and purchased a resistance band workout program. Let me say it’s been the BEST DECISION I’VE EVER MADE FOR MY HEALTH. It has been a game changer for finally realizing those gains. The initial program was 12 weeks, and was a progressive program, meaning every four weeks you increased the time, duration and intensity.
There were also HIIT cardio sessions and abs work included, so you got a full-body workout. Once I finished the first 12 weeks, an additional 8 weeks were added so I was able to continue to progress through the summer and early fall. Currently, I am going through a mass building program, so I’m eating at a surplus while increasing the volume.
All this time, I continue to eat Keto. I keep carbs between 20-30 net. I cook almost exclusively at home, and add some Keto treats to satisfy my sweet tooth (chocolate mug cake plus Enlightened ice cream=heaven). I see no need to ever go off Keto, and aside from a cheat day every blue moon, I likely never will.
Whatever your goals on Keto, and whether or not you’re in it for the long haul, you can use it to realize whatever your goals are, whether it be weight loss or body recomposition. Just stick to it and it will work!