Wanting What’s Best for Others

Jordan B. Peterson wrote a book I read several months ago called 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. While I may not fully agree with everything written in that book, much of it stood out. In fact so much of it stood out that I began thinking about my own life a little differently.

One of his rules is to only surround yourself with those who want the best for you.

Sounds simple enough, right? In fact, you’re probably thinking you’re already do this.

But this is a hard rule. We accumulate people throughout our lives, sometimes in seemingly random ways. And, after we’ve accumulated them, we become attached and don’t want to see them go, even if this ends up not being in our best interest.

Of course, there are people we feel we must include in our lives, such as family or coworkers, or other people we are forced to interact with on a regular basis.

But how many of you have actually taken the time to assess your relationships? Have you examined whether people in your life really want the best for you and whether you really want the best for them?

When I met my husband, the thing that stood out to me was that he, indeed, did want the best for me. In fact, far more than anyone else in my life, he has pushed me beyond my comfort zone and encouraged me to do things that before seemed impossible or that never registered on my radar. Now, after seeing his example, I hope that he can say I’ve begun to do the same for him.

To go back to Peterson, siince my husband and I began changing our eating habits and subsequently our other habits half a year ago, this life lesson of Jordan B. Peterson really has resonated with me, having indelibly found its place in my new life.

While, in the last several months, I felt great and began looking better than I thought I ever had before, I noticed that others did not always share in my enthusiasm. In fact, people purposely tried to sabotage my attempts, told me I was too skinny, accused me of being only focused on looks, and distanced themselves from my life.

When a friend of mine, who did and does want the best for me, saw how happy I was eating in a new way, she, too, decided to give it a try. I encouraged her, of course. However, I also warned her, “you will experience blowback, and it will be unexpected.”

Now, I don’t know if she believed me or not then, but she, too, in time experienced what I was warning her of. You see, I’m not alone.

It seems that many of us are dealing with those relationships where we have to stop and take a minute to really analyze the gain vs the pain.

Do we want to surround ourselves with people who get frustrated with us for being happier? Do we want to have people in our lives who want us to go back to where we were so that they can have someone at their level?

Jordan B. Peterson, in fact, has another rule that goes along well with this one, and that is: Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to where you were yesterday.

Since starting Keto, that has been my husband’s and my own goal as individuals and as a couple.

We are making strides, developing new habits, and taking on new challenges. Each day we try to be better than we were before.

For example, I’ve gotten better in the kitchen and started embarking on a new career that before I never had the confidence to even fathom. He’s developing an exercise routine and training himself as a runner. We do not allow ourselves to compare ourselves to other people, for that will only lead us, and anyone for that matter, to feeling bad about something, for it is not hard to understand that there will always be someone prettier, or with a nicer car, or with a seemingly happier disposition. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are consistently working towards new goals for yourself, that each new day brings more joy and pride than the one before it.

Which leads us right back to “only surround yourself with those who want the best for you.”

And of course, it can’t be a one-way street. You, too, have to be that person to others.

Which is why my husband and I try so hard to help others by encouraging them to do what will bring benefits to them, both in the short-term and the long-term.

In fact, Will even decided to dedicate his nonworking time to helping four people with personal health coaching. For him, a man who works out of town all week, this is a sacrifice from family time. But it is worth it.

You see, I am so excited for him to help others, for we’ve found that true happiness and true fulfillment comes from becoming part of a community and becoming someone who enriches others’ lives.

Last Sunday, in all the chaos of meal prep and cleaning and preparing for my first week of training for a new job, he and I made sure to finish typing up recipes and devising a tailored plan for someone I had known from my teenage years. We were busy, probably too busy for this, but it made us happy; we wanted the best for this person. We wanted to show her some tools to getting her life and energy back. Many of my prayers had been for her success. We were beyond rooting for her.

Unfortunately, as the story goes, no good deed goes unpunished. This person decided not to have my husband help her.

Her reason, vitriolic gossip.

She unfortunately succumbed to some not-so-pretty language about me having to do with my weight and writings about a Keto diet and how I hoped and continue to hope that people find health in a better way of eating.

Of course, from this, the question arises? Whom do we let influence us? Are we being influenced by people who want the best for us, or those who do not have that interest even in mind?

And, are we so engrained in being stagnant that we become enraged when others want better for us than we do? Do we need to better find our own worth so that we can recognize when someone wants what’s best for us?

Furthermore, for those who lose weight and find people around you discouraging you, you must ask yourself, are they comparing themselves to you? Are they wanting you to keep on the weight and continue to feel bad to justify their own lifestyle? Is it as simple as misery loves company?

With people who don’t want the best for you, you have a right to decide. Should they stay or should they go?

And, as it should go without saying, we all should look at our own behaviors to determine whether we’re living this ideal or falling short.

And, a last word of suggestion: next time you see someone working towards goals, don’t encourage them when they have that inevitable cheat item or relapse. Don’t encourage them to give up all together. Don’t encourage them to revert back to old ways that weren’t working for them. Instead, show them that you see their newfound gains and happiness, and help them continue to reach for their ideal.

Keto Gave Me a New Husband!

I have a new husband since we started the Keto diet a little over three months ago. I know, this sounds like a big exaggeration, and maybe I am exaggerating, but I do seriously have the best version of my husband that I have ever had.

Today, while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I saw that a lifelong friend posted a silly meme poking fun of Keto. It said, “When everyone won’t shut up about the Keto diet, and I’m like...Yo Keto Taco Bell?” Funny, right?

Except, to me, it’s not. Her son is in the hospital again with another auto-immune flare up. She’s put on a lot of weight and looks heavier than I’ve seen her since high school. She’s moving into the obese range, and so is her husband.

These things aren’t funny to me. I guess that’s why, when I see her so dismissive and antagonistic toward new health information, I get a little irritated. Maybe I’m being too emotional. But I want her to do well, feel well. I want her son to have the best chance of stopping his autoimmune responses. I want her family to be the best versions of themselves possible.

I want them to see results like my husband and I have seen.

But apparently these results don’t look that impressive to people. But to me, they are almost in the range of the fantastical and what I had once thought impossible.

About a year before my husband started the Keto diet, I made him go to our doctor and get referred for a sleep study. Instead of waiting until his follow-up appointment, the specialist immediately called him. He was having so many sleep apneas that he was in the danger-zone. He immediately got set up with a CPAP machine. That machine made him feel so much better since he was finally able to get restful sleep. We were so happy with this discovery and the technology to help. Since we had been married, we had not been able to sleep in the same room. His snoring was just not conducive to co-sleeping.

Then, and I don’t remember how long this took, it really couldn’t have been longer than a couple of weeks, his snoring went away while eating Keto. He was for the first time able to get a restful night’s sleep without the CPAP machine.

However, if he cheats, it he gets more carbs than usual, his snoring will return. Though, it has never gotten to his pre-Keto snoring level. For me, this was definitely not something I expected to be either caused or helped by diet. But what a convenient benefit of Keto. He can go to sleep without a bulky machine attached to him, and he doesn’t have to lug it around when he travels for work!

Also quite notably, my husband was discharged from the military due to a shoulder injury. (This happened years before I met him). Throughout our courtship and marriage, this shoulder would often give him trouble, causing him to wince and stiffen up more times than I’d like to remember. His hip would do the same, only to a much greater degree. If he were to sit for any extended amount of time, he would have such a hard time getting up, often having his hip completely freeze on him. He would stand there silently and visibly in pain, willing his hip to finally move and stop hurting. Being younger than 40, these inflammatory issues just seemed like something he would have to deal with for all his life.

Now, after Keto, they don’t bother him. Within the past month he even purchased a pull-up bar for the house. He routinely will do around 20 pull-ups a day, without having any shoulder issue at all. He never would have been able to do this before! And his hip pain, I have not once, since Keto, seen him freeze and wince like he used to. There have only been a couple times he’s had some slight stiffness in his hip after prolonged periods in the car, but these moments are incredibly brief in comparison to what they were.

His body is like a new body, limber and rejuvenated, without all that inflammation that had stemmed from his previous consumption of sugar and carbohydrates.

Yet, his body is not the only thing that seems new to me. His mind seems to be finally free from all the carb/sugar clutter. That ADHD that plagued him since childhood, that made our marriage almost insufferable for me at times, pretty much disappeared immediately on a Ketogenic diet. He was finally able to focus. Before, he’d become almost obsessive with things, buying this and that, starting this and that, all to let it falter. He’d binge on a task, never seeming to make much progress. He’d never feel like he had time to spend with the family because of these other things he should be doing. This all changed with Keto.

Because his mother, and to a degree his father, have the same symptoms, we had thought that the ADHD was just a genetic curse. (I know many will get mad that I use that term “curse”, but it was causing more harm than good for him and our family). When he and I started the Keto diet to help prevent disease in the future (like Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cancer), we never expected it to clear up his ADHD. We had thought he would probably have to be on ADHD medication for life. Luckily, we were wrong. So wrong!

Now, of course, like the snoring, if he cheats and eats more carbs, he will get that scatter-brained ADHD brain back temporarily. But at least now he can see it and understand it, and then go quickly back to his Keto diet.

And the ADHD fix is not the only way it’s brought out the best version of my husband. He now has been able to experience life without depression, anxiety, and easily-triggered irritability. Imagine how much happier he is!

Back in those days where I almost despised my husband (in that year after our daughter was born), I remember talking to his mom about how he was acting. Her only reply was that he was depressed. As a wife, this didn’t exactly give me hope. It was a diagnosis from his mother that simply said, it’s been something he’s dealt with in the past, and it will be something he will continue to deal with in the future. I was really at a loss for what to do. Like the ADHD, it just seemed to be something that ran in his family, a genetic trait he had no control over.

Then, like the other Keto benefits we saw, the disappearance of his depression and irritability surprised us. He doesn’t disconnect from me or the family like he used to. He doesn’t snap at me or deride and condescend to me at all like did before. He is able to see things in a new light and experience true joy, and he’s a lot better to be around.

With his body feeling better, his brain feeling clearer, and his mood much improved, he seems happier than I’ve ever seen him. We have fun together. We laugh together. He’s now the best husband and father I could ask for.

He has this newfound energy he never had prior to Keto, not even when he was young Marine. For example, he went from not running at all during our five years together, to all of a sudden running three miles at a time right after starting a Keto diet. Then, after only running a week or two, he did his first 5K, then his second. Now, he plans on running a half marathon in a couple weeks. Shockingly to me, he ran over 11 miles four days ago. Eleven miles!

Not only is he working his full-time job and spending quality time with us, he’s working on learning computer programming skills and working out.

I’m really not joking when I say he could be in a fitness magazine after only a few months eating Keto and intermittent fasting.

Last weekend, he ran from our house to meet us five miles up at a park. When I saw him running by, I was stunned! How was that my husband?! How did I get so lucky?!

Never did I expect any kind of diet to affect my family like Keto has done. Four months ago, I was completely ignorant when it came to the importance of what we eat. I had no idea how much carbohydrates affected some of us.

But now I know, and I’m so grateful that we found a way to improve ourselves as individuals and as a family unit.

At the time, I didn’t realize how much weight we needed to lose or how much better we would feel with better fuel for our body. For those people poking fun of Keto, they are in the same boat, not realizing how much they could benefit from some dietary changes.

Keto Saved My Marriage

Could I credit Keto with saving my marriage?

I know, I know! This sounds really sensational. But sometimes that’s what I think.

Back when we first had our daughter, our marriage really suffered! With a high needs baby who wanted to nurse all the time, I had no time to get anything done. I wasn’t sleeping. I didn’t have help. I was miserable.

My husband, without me bringing in an income, had all the financial responsibilities. Plus, he was working out of town, away from us. On one job that lasted for a few months, he would come home for less than 24 hours a week. I know how hard that must have been for him.

Then, sadly, he got laid off, meaning for (I believe) two months he was trying to do whatever he could to make some money. Those months are honestly a blur in my memory in terms of the specifics, but the emotions I felt are tangible in my memory.

In our individual states of distress, we blamed the other.

We had a hard time empathizing, and our marriage suffered. There simply wasn’t time for us to spend together or bond.

He thought I was being lazy. I thought his ADHD symptoms were out of control and that he was wasting time on fruitless efforts.

And there in those moments, I didn’t know if we’d make it. In my ear, I had good-intentioned people telling me to and how to leave him. Those people didn’t help.

Finally, sometime after her first birthday, probably around Christmas of 2017, we had a bares-all argument! I was crying; he was listening. And I finally told him, and I remember these words so vividly, “you cannot keep blaming me for everything.”

And he had been. He was trying to work on learning computer programming, but said he couldn’t focus with me in the house. I talked too much. I was too needy. He didn’t feel well. I should learn about nutrition and do a better job cooking.

I blamed him. He wouldn’t keep our daughter at all so I could have some moments to myself or to sleep. All he did was criticize me. Didn’t he see how much I was struggling!

We both were so exhausted and overwhelmed that we couldn’t help each other.

Then, something clicked. When he saw how fatigued I was, how hopeless I felt about our marriage, he decided to make a change. I had told him to stop blaming me, so he finally did stop.

He made the effort to save our marriage. He took the lead.

First, he came to me with a list of symptoms of ADHD, asking if I thought they sounded like him. They did.

He went to our primary physician and got put on some medication. The medication helped.

He purchased Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life book and had us do the comprehensive personality test. We took it together, discussing ourselves, working to understand how the other operated. We started to see where some of our disagreements stemmed from, where our perspectives differed. He even started working on Peterson’s Past and Future Self-Authoring program.

He made the time for us spend time together as husband and wife, and that time together helped some. We were slowly reconnecting.

Then our daughter started nursing less and sleeping more. I finally got some energy and time back. I was able to sleep in longer spurts and could finally feel less bitter and angry.

I felt, for the first time since her birth, some hope for our marriage.

Then, he came home from work in early April and announced we’d go Keto. My initial response was to rebel (we discovered through that personality test that I’m a highly disagreeable person), but I actively chose to be supportive, to do this with him. It was not an easy choice to make, and I fought my immediate feelings. Thank God I did!

And I learned more about Keto on my own. I sought out information. I found another way he and I could share an interest.

Then, I, quite quickly, found my way in the kitchen and cooked us delicious meals I could feel happy about.

Next, the most amazing thing happened, we both started feeling better. His intense irritability almost disappeared with low-carb, I had more energy to tackle my responsibilities, and he was able to get off his ADHD medication.

Then, we both started prioritizing our life. We found ways to move about our lives in a way that enriched both of us. With us both feeling happier, it was so much easier to communicate without placing blame. It was easier for us to find activities to do as a family to encourage that bond. It was easier to try to make the other happy in little ways.

I stopped watching t.v., and he found a way to distance himself from his previous attachment to comic books. We slowly stopped allowing certain things to drag us down and eat up our time.

More than ever, we became conscious of the toxic people in our lives, as well as the ways we had been toxic.

Now, I have an incredibly fit and attractive husband who manages his time betterand who now relishes his time with us.

I have more energy to truly appreciate the fact that I’m able to be home with our daughter, take her on outings, and keep up with the to-do list.

And I’ve found a new love in nurturing my family. There’s a new joy I find in coming up with meal plans, grocery shopping, and cooking. Through Keto, it seems I have finally found a way to embrace being a stay-at-home parent.

And while we still have financial worries and external stresses, a Keto diet has enabled us to handle them better than ever before. We can still find happiness even in a less-than-ideal situations. This is something I have never been able to do before!

We finally have found that necessary respect and admiration to fully love one another again.

I just wonder how much better we could have been in that year following our daughter’s birth had we been eating Keto back then?

As I told a former co-worker several weeks ago, I thought I had married an asshole, but it was just the carbs.

Keto and Fertility, Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding

Is Keto dangerous for those of you pregnant, breastfeeding, or wanting to breastfeed?

This is a huge question for many people in my life, and for the longest time I’d simply those around me that I simply didn’t know.

When I started Keto, my daughter was about 19 months old, and then only nursed for those first two months I did Keto. I personally didn’t see any reduction in supply or any issues at all.

But now that I’ve done the Keto diet for three months, have weaned, and finally started thinking about it, why would pregnant women not be able to do Keto?

Who would tell pregnant women to avoid a diet rich in nutrients for one poor in nutrients? A Keto diet would just mean the woman would be eating meats, vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, maybe some fruit. She would be avoiding sugar and processed foods.

Her diet would be similar to that of her ancestors who clearly carried pregnancies to term and had healthy offspring. Nothing in the Keto diet recommends protein or calorie deficits, so pregnant women would be getting those very needed calories and protein.

But there’s something scary about the “low-carb” option, especially as money has been poured into convincing us to spend more and more on wheat and grain consumption. I mean, we all grew up with that food pyramid, right? We’ve all been hooked at one point on that high-carb diet.

But if there’s no such thing as an essential carbohydrate and our body will make glucose on its own when needed, why do we need that Standard Amercian Diet (SAD)? Why would some well-intentioned and some not-so-well-intentioned doctors tell women that such a healthy, low-carb diet could be dangerous?

One criticism I have found is that our gut feeds off fiber in foods, leading some to advise pregnant women to not eat a Ketogenic diet. This criticism doesn’t hold much weight with me as you can find fiber in non-starchy foods; you do not need grain for fiber. You can get fibers from green, leafy vegetables and other foods. You can simply eat more fermented food to feed gut bacteria. Furthermore, you can look here at Dr. Eric Berg’s and Maria Emmerich’s explanation of the the fiber myth and about why you need less fiber than you think. You can also watch Dr. Paul Mason examine the myth here as well.

Another criticism looks at a study done with rats put on a Ketogenic diet during pregnancy. In this study, rats whose mothers ate a Ketogenic Diet (KD) had offspring with altered brain structures when compared to the rats fed the Standard Diet (SD). While this sentence I just wrote might scare you (and I don’t just mean the syntax), I looked at the “results” and “discussion” of this study and find nothing to ward me off of eating Keto during my next pregnancy: “Adult KD mice have reduced relative volume in the hippocampus, hypothalamus, corpus callosum, striatum, motor
cortex, and auditory cortex, and increased relative volume in the cortex and cerebellum. The thalamus and dentate gyrus in the average KD brain both show regions which are enlarged, and others which are smaller compared with the average SD brain. Such volumetric changes may be attributed to the neuro-protective properties of the Ketogenic Diet, and its effects on neurogenesis. The KD has been found to decrease reactive oxygen species formation, thereby protecting the cell against oxidative stress.”

So, while brain structure is altered in KD mice, it did not seem to come with any clear issues, only positive effects like neurological and cell protection. The results even specifically state that prenatal KD helps protect “cells against degeneration.”

Furthermore, the study also claims that some of the altered brain regions might be a result of protein malnourishment in the KD rats. Thus, if both rat and human mothers consume enough protein, wouldn’t it be reasonable to speculate that brain regions may be less significantly affected.

However, the differences in size didn’t really scare me when I was reading the results of this study. The differences exhibited by the KD mice, to me, only seemed positive. Prenatal KD mice exhibited less anxiety and depression, which lasted into their adulthood, even after they began eating a Standard Diet (SD). They showed more endurance when swimming, male offspring had significantly lower blood glucose levels, and they were more physically active.

Of course, if I’m somehow missing something here, let me know. I am in no way anyone medically trained and am always happy to hear other arguments and see other evidence. However, from my layperson’s research, there is no way I am not eating Keto if I decide to have another baby. Even in mice, it seems to only positively affect offspring.

Why these two criticisms don’t convince me not to recommend Keto to my pregnant loved ones:

For one, it seems to help women trying to get pregnant actually get pregnant and carry the child to term. And infertility seems to be on the rise, too. I remember when we were trying for our baby, I thought for sure it would take much longer than it did to conceive. Unfortunately, we had known too many who had either never been able to conceive, had to have medical assistance to conceive, or who took over a year to conceive. We had also known women with PCOS affecting their fertility. Fortunately, it seems like a Keto diet can help some women with their PCOS symptoms. The fact that eating Keto bolsters fertility is enough reason for many women to start eating Keto now, especially as many women are waiting until they are older to conceive and/or currently have issues with either conception or carrying to term.

Dr. Michael Fox, a fertility specialist with Jacksonville Center for Reproductive Medicine has not only been recommending this low-carb diet to his high-risk patients, he’s been recommending Keto to all his pregnant patients. And after seeing its effect on the hundreds of patients he’s helped, he’s even more adamant that this diet helps reduce the risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and morning sickness. I wish I had heard of him back when I was pregnant. I knew a woman who almost lost both of her babies with preeclampsia, and I was terrified I might get it. I also battled some inconvenient morning sickness and was pregnant during the same time as a co-worker who was sent to the hospital with her severe morning sickness. I also was close to several who had to deal with gestational diabetes. If I had known this information then, I could have shared some valuable information that may have made a huge difference in their lives. My sister-in-law, had we known this information, might have been able to have had that baby she always wanted.

In addition to Dr. Fox, I wish I and my loved ones had found someone like Maria Emmerich, a Keto enthusiast, sooner. You can check out what she has to say about Keto, pregnancy, and breastfeeding here and here. But I’ll recap a few things I wish I had known during my pregnancy and breastfeeding days:

1. I never knew that pregnant women are even more sensitive to carbohydrates and that they become more insulin resistant when pregnant!

2. I also never realized that babies spend much time in ketosis, that breastmilk is made of fat and cholesterol, or that this fat and protein in the Keto diet only enhances breastmilk, better enabling baby to build his/her brain! I was also unaware of the high sugar and carb content of baby formula! And I did supplement with formula, although I’m happy I gave my daughter about 95% breastmilk.

3. Additionally, some women will notice a decrease in the quantity of milk produced; however, the milk of a Keto mom becomes much higher in fat content, meaning baby needs less. My poor baby nursed all the time, and I wonder if my milk was, unfortunately, too low in fat content due to my high-carb, Standard Amercian Diet (SAD).

4. Coconut Oil, my new favorite oil to cook with, has “anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties,” according to Emmerich. It both helps lactation and provides lauric acid, a fatty acid chain in breastmilk that supports metabolism!

As someone who is not a doctor, I strongly rely on looking at data and evidence from experts. However, I also try to remain aware of funding and how funding helps support certain studies. This is one reason why I’ve become such a strong proponent of the Ketogenic diet and a harsh critic of the SAD and all those companies which fund lies that keep us sick, miserable, and sometimes infertile.

Weaning a Toddler

To nurse or not to nurse? That was never really a question in our house.

I always knew I’d breastfeed my daughter. I mean, I apparently breastfed until I was about three years old, or so the story goes.

However, I had assumed it would come more naturally. I did not expect my daughter to have such a horrible latch. In fact, during her first few hours of life, I was left bloody and sore from her nursing.

I knew from a breastfeeding class I took while pregnant that nursing wasn’t supposed to hurt, but all the nurses post-birth kept telling me I was being a bit wimpy about it. So, I persevered.

Then I got a little mad and DEMANDED to see the lactation consultant. (My baby was born at the busiest time of the year, so we did not get great treatment due to the high number of babies being born during that time.)

And the lactation consultant got my baby supplementing with formula. While I wanted so much to breastfeed, I was so happy she stepped in so my baby could eat. She also gave me shells and lanolin to help with the healing.

And last of all, she gave me breast shields to use when nursing. While these were supposed to be used as a temporary crutch, we ended up using them for all 21 months of nursing.

Yes, I said it. Twenty-one months!

Was it easy! Um, no! That baby stayed attached to my breast, day and night, for almost a year. I just sort of had to find ways to settle in with her and have everything I needed within reach.

She did not want to be away from me or the breasts, meaning finding time or opportunity to pump was almost impossible.

This high-needs baby of mine was a milkaholic. She loved her “booby”.

But I was done with breastfeeding long before I made her wean at 21 months. In fact, I had been done for a while.

You see, when I started Keto when she was around 19 months, I found that the new me was focused on tackling issues in my life. Of course, for those who weren’t able to breastfeed this doesn’t seem like a valid issue since I was one of the lucky ones able to breastfeed. And, I assure you. I fought hard to breastfeed, and I felt like I sacrificed a lot to breastfeed. Another lactation consultant, two weeks postpartum, even handed me some formula and told me to stop trying to breastfeed and just give her formula. To say I was stubborn might be an understatement.

Yet, still, though I fought so hard to make it happen, at this point it was an issue and was greatly affecting my sleep.

So, with this newfound confidence that the Keto diet gave me, I decided to be more proactive and get her to wean.

Thus, we started talking about “booby milk” and how booby milk is for babies. Every time we’d see a baby, we’d talk about babies getting “booby milk” not big girls. Then, I’d ask her if she was a baby or a big girl, and she’d say “girl”.

Once it was clear she understood this, I decided to drop the middle of the night feedings. Meaning, when she woke up to nurse, I would just snuggle her. Did this tick my toddler off at first? Yes, yes it did. But she only really cried for a minute or two before going back to sleep. Of course, I’d remind her during this time that booby milk was for babies and she was a big girl. We had to keep this up for a week or two before she completely stopped expecting it at night. And some nights were a little rough, although not nearly as rough as I had expected.

Then, I gradually shortened our time nursing to sleep. (Yes, this was the only way I had been able to get my little one to sleep, unfortunately).

And finally, on June 9, 2018. I just didn’t nurse and held her to sleep. By this point, she seemed fine with not having the “booby” and didn’t ask for it. She hasn’t asked for it since.

Now, we snuggle to sleep every night, and, honestly, (and I’m probably in the minority here) I much prefer this to nursing.

Not Eating the Wall or Feeling Deprived

People hate the idea of deprivation. I hate it. You hate it. No one wants to feel like they’re missing out on something great.

For this reason, when people ask me how I managed to so quickly lose so much weight, they are astonished by my mention of “no sugar”. They look at me in bewilderment, as if I said I was giving up oxygen or something else just as vital.

But let’s face it. Sugar is not vital, and we all are eating too much of it!

And it will kill many of us. Yet, we still can’t give it up.

I’m not going to go into the dangers of sugar here, but I do want to talk about how easy the Keto dietary changes have been and how I DON’T feel deprived at all. Because I have alternatives, I can easily give it up.

1) The first week is the toughest. I’m not going to lie. However, after that first week, it gets so much easier. I even got accustomed to drinking unsweetened tea and coffee, which I NEVER thought I’d be able to do.

2) There are so many Keto alternatives out there. You will find something for your specific favorites! We found a pancake mix we love; we even add some Keto chocolate chips! We have found that an easy way to order these alternatives is through Thrive Market, an online store that will deliver your goodies straight to your door. (P.S. For the “syrup” on those pancakes, we use a simple recipe from Leanne Vogel. It’s just 2 tablespoons of coconut oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of almond butter. So simple and so delicious!)

3) Now, of course, some of you don’t like the stevia, erythritol, or xylitol sweeteners. But, the longer you go without sugar in your system, the better these taste! I promise. We love Zevia (a stevia sweetened soda) and have these whenever we want a Coke or Dr. Pepper. They have quite a few flavors to choose from, too! And now they taste like the real thing to me. I also on occasion use Splenda Naturals with some heavy whipping cream and cinnamon in my morning coffee so that I still feel like I’m using my old sugary creamer. Ditching that creamer was the hardest thing for me, so I found that having a sweet alternative makes me feel like I’m treating myself! However, make sure you look at the ingredient list. It should only say erythritol and stevia. About a month ago, I bought a large bag of Splenda Naturals at Food Lion, and it was a stevia and SUGAR blend! The packaging looked almost identical to the erythritol and stevia blend, so be more careful than I was and ALWAYS look at the ingredient list. Also, sometimes this sweetener will send me quite quickly to the bathroom, so be aware of how your body responds to it. I also notice, too, that using too much of the sweeteners will affect my mood, making me feel like I used to on the Standard American Diet.

I also can’t forget to mention how much we rely on liquid stevia to sweeten various recipes. I use it in my Keto Lemonade and my Keto Milkshake recipes I got from Leanne Vogel’s Keto book, as well as these strawberry cheesecake fat bombs! The best thing about this liquid stevia is that you only use drops at a time, meaning one little bottle lasts FOREVER!

4) You can bake with Keto! My husband uses unsweetened vanilla almond milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and confectioners Swerve to make the best fudge! We love it here at our house! We also made our own low carb bagels the other day following a recipe I saw someone post on Facebook.

As you can see, I have found lots of replacements. However, I do want to add a little caveat that it may be best to use these items as a crutch to transition from your old, standard diet to your new, healthy one. I, myself, need to start relying less on these options, and there are many, many days that I do just that; and, even when not indulging in my alternatives, I still never feel deprived.

Those old carb cravings are gone.

I can go longer between meals.

And when I do crave, I crave my Keto foods of some good fat and protein. I crave those seasoned veggies. I find myself wanting food I used to not particularly want to eat.

For example, I love my tacos on romaine lettuce and my burgers (with a fried egg and cheddar on top) covered in iceberg lettuce. To me, the crunch of the lettuce is far superior to the buns I grew up with. Even better, I never find myself feeling heavy or tired after eating these like I used to when they came on carby breads and tortillas.

You see, we find great recipes and eat delicious meals that make us feel full afterwards. There is no calorie deficit with Keto for us. We do not starve ourselves. We do not deprive ourselves.

Thus, I was a little irritated the other day to see a “low carb, no sugar” meme posted by an extended family member I had spent some time giving Keto info to. This meme had a dog being shamed for “eating the wall” and simply said “what happens when I go on a low carb, no sugar diet”.

This could not be further from the truth. But people have no idea how hungry a high-carb diet makes them. They have no idea how filling those healthy fats are. They don’t realize the effect sugar has on them, or how addicted they are. They also don’t realize how easy it is to go Keto and stay on Keto.

I mean, I, too, was one of them. When I was pregnant, I remember telling someone how much I hoped I didn’t have high blood sugar results because I could not live without my creamer. I realize now just how ignorant I was and just how much I was putting sugar as a higher priority than my health and my future child’s health. The power sugar has over us is, indeed, scary.

But without it, I don’t feel like I’m deprived. I never have an urge to eat the wall. In fact, I no longer feel hangry.

I don’t have to eat every couple of hours, I can resist temptation, and food no longer dominates my thinking.

(Please note, I am not receiving money for endorsing any of the abovementioned products. These are just items and recipes I have personally found helpful.)

Just Getting By

I stopped working when my daughter was born. Actually, since I was a teacher, I finished teaching that school year three months before she was born.

And having a relaxing third trimester was nice.

But being home with her that first year felt like a must.

She nursed all the time, day and night. I spent hours upon hours with her propped on a breast while I binged t.v. shows or read books.

This sounds serene and relaxing. But I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t getting out. I wasn’t getting visitors. I was a mess. A chubby, sleep-deprived, desperate mess.

But, as many would say, I was living the dream. I was a stay-at-home-mom.

Yesterday, I heard someone talking about her decision not to be a stay-at-home-mom, and what she said struck me hard.

She and her husband both make six figures. After going to school for as long as she did, there was no way she’d leave that behind. As a former teacher (who did NOT make six figures), I can understand that. In the time I’ve been home (2 years now) I did take an online class to get the rest of my re-certification points. I will file paperwork next year to renew my teaching license. I want to get back into my career eventually. I can understand now wanting to jeopardize a career you worked so hard for.

But I worry, will this hiatus break my career? Will I be able to just jump right back into it? Have I done myself a disservice because I took time off, took out my pension (because we needed the money), and left a tenured position?

She further stated that her and her husband thought it best to have both their incomes in order to give their child the best financial life possible, instead of a just-getting-by-financial life. Oh boy did this hit hard!

When my husband and I started trying, he was bringing in about $7,000 a month. Now, after hours have been cut, he makes about half that. And we still have bills to pay. I still have student loans. Did we make a mistake having me stay home with our daughter?

Before getting married and before having a baby, I was financially pretty limited, but I was always able to pay my bills. They were on auto-draft; I didn’t know when they’d be taken out. I just always had enough not to worry about what day they’d be pulled out.

Now, my situation is different. It’s a balancing act. One emergency wrecks us. With our daughter’s UTI costing us about $500 out of pocket and our dog’s arthritis injury costing $1000 and all the other times we found ourselves in a deficit this year, our credit cards are about maxed. This has never happened before. I used to pay it off every month just to get points. Now, I pay about the minimum every month to not go over the limit.

As you can see, what she said hit me hard.

Choosing to stay home or choosing to work is a hard choice. There are pros and cons to each. It’s a little too late for me to go back next school year, but it may have to be something I do the following year. At that point, I will have been out of the school system for three years.

I just hope that doesn’t hold me back too much!

Social Media Lies

How many people lie on social media? I’m starting to think it’s a lot more than I used to.

And I know that social media only really shows you the good stuff going on in someone’s life.

I know that I posted pictures today from Will’s second 5K. I didn’t write a diatribe about how he’s not getting paid this week and the stress of bills are weighing on me.

I showed the good and did not share the bad, just as I posted the best selfie we had taken and deleted the bloopers.

I understand the management of perception. What I don’t quite get is the out-and-out lies.

But I am starting to think that friends of mine use lies and/or absolute exaggerations on social media to get compliments and validation from others and to combat certain insecurities. Do you have people like this in your life? Or have I had a knack for attracting a certain type of person?

For example, last night, as I got a chance to sit down for a minute and unwind, I noticed this post from a friend of mine. She and I have been friends since preschool, but now, in our thirties, we don’t have much in common other than the fact that we have kids. In the past, I sort of accepted this as normal. You grow, you change—these things happen.

But this was the second post she made about someone “shaming” her for being a working mom. No descriptions of how this shaming was done. Just a general, abstract, I was shamed “boo hoo” post.

And the comments poured in. “You’re awesome!” “People need to mind their own business!” “Being a working mom is better for the kids, anyway.” “You are a strong, independent woman!”

But I just doubt anyone actually said anything. If not an out-and-out lie, my money is on the fact that my friend was feeling insecure and took something innocuous the wrong way.

In fact, I think I may have played a part in it. See, her son recently had an acute autoimmune response which put him in the hospital twice.

Knowing what I know about carbohydrates and sugar affecting immune responses in some people, I (after inquiring about how he was doing upon his return from the hospital) asked her if she had considered trying a low carb diet for him. Instead of asking questions or inquiring more, she told me her son was three and lived on carbs. My simple question was not appreciated.

As someone who has been exposed to more mind-opening information lately and who has first-hand experienced the big changes diet can make in a body, her unwillingness to learn more for her child’s well-being saddened me.

I hope, though, that his body does not respond that way again, and I hope that she doesn’t have to think about low-carb diets for her son’s health.

But I also suspect that her jab about how her she gives “her children proper nutrition” in her Facebook post about being shamed had something to do with what I said.

I think I hit a nerve.

And before learning more about nutrition, I used to give my daughter sugary yogurt snacks and goldfish and crackers. I always knew this was probably not best, but I didn’t know any other way.

When I asked if she had considered a low-carb diet for her son, I only wanted to help. It was not a shaming. I purposely only asked if she had considered it and mentioned I had heard good things about low-carb and autoimmune. I purposely phrased it in a way that wouldn’t sound preachy or pushy.

So what else had someone said that sent her over the edge?

My question is, how quick are we to think we’re being shamed? And how often do we fabricate and/or exaggerate being shamed to get those feel-good responses on Facebook? And are we doing this much more often than both prior to and in the early days of social media?

And are working moms being shamed? Have I missed something in my life experiences to make me doubt this is happening?

Dr. Berry’s List of 11 Benefits of Keto

What makes Keto so darn impressive? That’s what so many of us want to know.

I know that I saw a couple people on my Facebook write about Keto this past year, and while I “liked” their post about weight loss and improvement in acne, I didn’t think much of it.

You see, I’m not a dieter. I’ve never been a dieter. I don’t do these popular things that sometimes pop up.

Then, of course, my husband, Will, comes home one day and declares, “we’re going Keto” and explains it in a way that I finally realize it’s not a fad thing. And, you know what, I didn’t have an argument for why not. Saying, “But I like the taste of sugar,” just didn’t cut it. So, after a little introduction from a couple of documentaries about the dangers of sugar and carbs and a little explanation from my husband, I decided to dive in alongside him.

This was something we would do together.

Today, about 2 ½ months later, I am down to 106 pounds, having lost 18 pounds. My husband is down 45 pounds and just ran his first 5K on Saturday, earning 2nd place in his age group for men. He has been running now for two weeks. The last time he ran before that was when he was in the Marines eight years ago! (As a side note, my husband I are both really short so these are normal BMI weights for our height.)

The reason I’m mentioning the above stats is that people are noticing. People are asking questions and wanting to know how to do what we have done.

Of course, I should just face it: really people are noticing my husband’s transformation more than mine.

Back about a month ago, one of our favorite cashiers at Food Lion had to do a double-take when he saw Will. So, there Will and I were trying to tell our cashier how to do Keto in the time it took to ring up our groceries. As you can imagine, that was not easy, and I doubt he remembered most of the info we spewed at him during that transaction. Of course, what Will and I would want from that experience is to light a match under him so that he can go and find the information he needs.

But see, what we’ve found is that most people we encounter don’t particularly want to do the research on their own, and I don’t blame them. We’re busy. We have so much going on. And most people don’t really understand how beneficial Keto can be for them. In fact, people have recently really only started to take us seriously once I posted some images of Will finishing his 5K. But the benefits of Keto had been happening long before he crossed that finish line.

This brings me to a video I watched this morning by Dr. Ken Berry on YouTube called “11 Ways the Ketogenic Diet Can Change Your Life“.

It seems like I am constantly trying to tell people about how Keto has improved various things for me, but they just don’t get it. And, since I’m no medical expert, I have a hard time explaining it. However, Dr. Berry puts it out there so succinctly. Plus, he is a doctor, a medical expert, who understands the science behind it all much better than I do.

And I need these videos to share with people in my life, whether they’re asking me for information or whether I’m trying to encourage them to clean up their eating habits. Either way, this video provides the inspiration that I, most of the time, fail to articulate.

Even more, I feel like I received some validation for what I had deemed the result of Keto. You see, I’m not crazy or just a fanatic as many people have claimed since I started Keto. A Keto diet has changed so many things for me, much more than just helping me shed some pounds.

Here is Dr. Berry’s list of Keto benefits (but seriously, go watch his video!):

1. Lower blood pressure

2. Slows down aging process

3. Join Pain and Inflammation

4. Decreases frequency of getting auto-immune diseases and helps if you have it

5. Improves Mood

6. Improves Heartburn

7. Curing non-alcoholic liver

8. Optimizes hormones

9. Controls your appetite

10. Acne

11. Weight loss

Keto is Not a Fad, and I’m Not Jumping on the Bandwagon

The other day, while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across a post that, quite frankly, irritated me.

It started by listing some diets, starting with “Keto” and ending with “starving” and mentioning “low-fat” and “no-fat” in the middle.

The post went on to talk about how women should be good to their bodies and stop jumping on the next get-skinny-quick bandwagon.

It also mentioned how this particular woman posting this was going to be just fine in her size 4 jeans and would not be attempting to make herself skinnier, like those “other” women she’s been seeing post about weight loss on Facebook.

I guess what really bothered me was that I felt like Keto was being greatly misrepresented. It is not low-fat, nor no-fat, and has nothing to do with starvation! In fact, it’s about making sure you don’t restrict caloric intake, as that will only damage your metabolism long-term.

Now, I will not attribute malice to this person making this post; but I will attribute ignorance, which is, I believe, pretty common when it comes to healthy eating and the Ketogenic diet. I also will attribute an attempt to shame and downplay others’ (myself included) happy posts about weight loss. Seriously, must we rain on others’ parades? But maybe it was just plain old ignorance.

I mean, until early April, I myself was pretty ignorant; that is, until my husband came home and informed us we would be doing Keto for health.

Since then, I have listened to information almost non-stop on Keto and health, and I have learned quite a lot along the way, all while losing about 17 pounds, gaining a lot more energy, and greatly improving my overall mood. (And, yes, I will post on Facebook if I want to, because it’s something that is both surprising to me and exciting for me. I shouldn’t have someone attempt to shame me for posting about the quick, positive results I’ve gotten from eating Keto!)

To somewhat agree with this woman’s point about not focusing solely on weight, I will point out that, for my husband and myself, we looked at Keto not as a way to lose weight but as a way to stop putting poisons in our bodies, as a way to look out for our long-term health.

We want to do whatever we can to help us ward off future disease and live as well as possible. So, when we went Keto, we didn’t do so in what some might believe is a zealous fashion. We don’t count macros, and we don’t really allow the diet to stress us out. We just try to eat a moderate amount of protein, a lot of healthy saturated fat, and a low number of carbs that come from vegetables and dairy.

We eat whole food, real food. Lots of veggies and good meats. We cook with coconut oil and butter. We get lots of healthy fats to fuel us, and we stopped eating sugar, breads, and processed foods.

I know for some this only yells “DEPRIVATION”, but, honestly, after doing it for a week or two, it stopped feeling like I was being deprived. Instead, I found recipes I liked and stevia-sweetened treats so that now I feel like I get everything I want to eat; and more importantly, I feel good after eating.

I don’t experience any of the bloating or the drowsiness I used to experience after eating those carb-loaded meals I used to eat.

It’s really been a life-style change that has greatly enriched my life.

But, going back to the Facebook post, while it greatly irritated me, I do, rather reluctantly to be honest, see where this person is coming from.

You see, I’ve never put myself on a diet. I’ve never had a real problem with food. When I was in college I did find myself at my heaviest, 145 lbs (a size 12), and after college, I did gradually drop about 20 lbs by cutting back on sweets and sodas and getting more activity.

Unlike this woman posting, I have no sad stories of being bullied for being overweight. I did not have severe self-esteem issues from it. No one ever said anything that I remember.

After college, I just simply kept the weight off for eight years, really without trying.

I would say, I’ve always had a pretty nontoxic approach to eating and never pushed myself into calorie deprivation.

However, I have to remember that that is not the experience of every individual. Instead, for women and men who have had issues with eating disorders or who have tried all the diets out there, their approach and/or perspective on Keto may and will probably be different than mine.

In fact, while sweeping the floors this afternoon, I listened to a YouTube video about a woman who is quitting Keto, and it really gave me some perspective. For this woman who went Keto to lose weight, she found that she stopped losing weight after the initial 30-pound loss and that she was not able to work out anymore. By her own admission, she allowed the diet to consume her. She counted macros fanatically, checked ketones in her urine, and stressed herself out.

I would venture forth that approaching the Keto diet in this fashion is going to work against you. All the research I’ve seen on stress seems to say that you will not lose weight when stressed; it, instead, will only wreak havoc on your body.

And approaching a diet in such a fashion will inevitably lead to binges and an inability to continue the way-of-eating long-term.

For me, the key to Keto is that it is not a “diet” in the way the word has been perverted by recent culture. It is not a way for me to lose weight quick to get into a bikini. It started as a way for my husband and I to get healthier, and the weight loss has just been an added bonus. But it really is a “diet” in the sense of it’s what we eat, it’s our general diet. We eat whole foods, good foods, and avoid putting poison in our bodies as much as possible.

However, especially now that we’ve become fat adapted, we will have cheat items on occasion without worrying ourselves about it. I will eat that piece of pizza when I go out to eat with my dad and stepmom and their kids. My husband did get himself a sugary treat for Father’s Day, although he regretted it later.

But most importantly, we adjust the diet based on how we feel. The only Keto cookbook we have as of now is The Keto Diet by Leanne Vogel, and I like what she stresses, which is find what is right for you. There is no one-size-fits-all model.

For example, my husband started running lately. Consequently, he’s decided to add some more carbs in the form of carrots and sweet potatoes. I, for the first time in eight years, tried jogging yesterday. It was hard! Today, I ate a banana beforehand and was able to jog for close to a mile without stopping. The banana helped. Now, will we continue to add these carbs to our diet? I’m not sure. He and I are still figuring it all out. But the main point is we don’t overstress about it. We remain flexible. We make sure we cook good, delicious meals. We are examining how our bodies react to various foods.

After that milkshake treat on Father’s Day, my husband is finally admitting that diary does not particularly agree with him. Now, we’ll start using dairy less in our recipes.

If we find we need to make adjustments, he and I will. There’s not a rulebook we must religiously follow. We just know how the results we have seen have been beyond remarkable and that we must continue fueling our bodies with healthy things.

So, while I initially started this blog out of defensiveness and anger, I must say, maybe that person had a point. We really don’t need to jump on something because it’s en vogue at the moment. And maybe some people started Keto for that reason, but my husband and I did not. We just happened to find ourselves exposed to new information that motivated us to change our previous habits.

And for those of you on Keto, I would just encourage you to not let it consume you or stress you. Be flexible, find what works for you, and allow it to bring out a healthier, more vibrant you.

And, furthermore, don’t let someone try to tell you Keto is some weight-loss trend. Let them go home and do the research about why this diet works best for everyone. You have no reason to feel shamed for treating your body well.