Finding Real Comfort in Food

Up until just a few months ago, for most of my life, food has been my security blanket. Whenever I had a rough day, an interaction that left me feeling insecure, or my depression began to enclose on me again, I knew exactly how french fries and a cheeseburger would make me feel. I knew they wouldn’t reject me, they’d make me feel the same way they always did, and I could enjoy them for about ten minutes. Ten minutes of comfort. Ten minutes of easing the pain of being tormented by depression and insecurity. Ten minutes of feeling “happy”.

For a brief moment, I felt good.

But all of those brief moments of good tasting mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes, garlic bread, and pizza left me feeling empty inside. When my plate was clean and the dishes were done, I was still insecure. I was still depressed. I was still ashamed of my body.

And each time I ate a curly fry dipped in Arby’s sauce, I gained a little more on my waist, and lost a little more confidence in who I was.

Why couldn’t I control my weight? Why couldn’t I have controlled what I had ate three months ago, so I look different today? Why was the person in the mirror so much different than who I thought I was?

To be fair, I didn’t eat fast food or carbs all of the time. I did not seek comfort in every single meal. Primarily, I ate pretty good. I ate a standard “food pyramid” American diet with the occasional fast food.  But I did eat impulsively sometimes. And sometimes I’d stretch those ten minutes of feeling good into twenty minutes by getting a second helping of a meal. Part of this was biological; when we eat a few carbs, our body starts wanting more, so we eat more. The other part of this was psychological. We feel good when we eat carbs, so we want more.

So, week after week, I lost the food battle. The weeks turned into months, and the months turned into years. And after I had lost enough battles, I became overwhelmed with the feeling of defeat. That feeling of defeat controlled me. It became a part of who I was. Most of the time, I hung my head down in shame. I avoided pictures with my family. I avoided mirrors. I avoided people, because I didn’t want them to see me like this.And the extra weight that stuck to my body stood as a testament to my lack of self-control and my battles lost.

And so the cycle would continue. I’d eat to numb that pain. I’d eat to feel in control. As if I were telling myself, This isn’t something that is happening to you, it’s something we are choosing. It’s ok to be a little “thick”. I’d eat for that ten minutes of feeling “happy” again.

Then, I started Keto. For those of you that are already ketoers, you probably know the feeling of eating just for the sake of getting your body some nutrients. Eating keto usually means eating a lot of the same foods over and over. After about two months of keto, your body starts to stop craving carbs all the time. I thank God that I had the discipline to keep it together for those two months, to get those cravings out of my body!

It wasn’t until recently that I realized I’d been winning the battle, though. While at multiple Christmas dinners this year, I realized my plate was not as full as it was in previous Christmases. I did not make excessive trips back to the food to fill my plate again. I did not feel overly stuffed or uncomfortable with the foods I ate.

In fact, over Thanksgiving, I lost a pound. And over Christmas, I maintained my weight.

That is what real comfort food, my friends.

Food that makes you feel comfortable in your own body. Food that helps you exude confidence, rather than defeat.

Food that’s “good feeling” lasts longer than the ten minutes you are tasting it, you have that good feeling every time you look in a mirror. Food that gives you fuel to be the person that you know you are. Food that doesn’t make you feel guilty or fuel your depression.

Real comfort food isn’t about what makes you feel good for a fleeting ten minutes. Comfort food is about fueling your body so you can be confident in who you are.

And this is why I won’t go back to the other lifestyle. Its about more than what is on my plate. I don’t want to go back to hanging my head in shame. I want to continue to be happy with who I am. I want the food I eat to reflect who I want to become.

I broke the cycle. I’ve won the battle. It’s about keeping it that way now.

New Lowest Weight (in this decade)

I’m not sure when the last time I was 152 was. When I started a low carb diet in high school I was at 155. I lost 20 pounds then, maybe a little more. Then my freshman year I stopped working out and started eating more pizza and before you knew it I was at 155 again. For most of the last 5 years, other than one year where I was “content” in the 170 range, I’ve lived at around 155-165. So when I stalled in that 155-158 range for the last month, I was disappointed.

This week I buckled down. Not that I wasn’t committed before, but I think I may have gotten a little too lax with artificial sweeteners. I made some FAT BOMBS  which are primarily coconut oil and natural peanut butter. (Side note: Coconut oil is excellent for you! Studies have shown that people that incorporate coconut oil in their diet lose more fat than people that ate similarly but without coconut oil in their diet.)

Apparently, my hard work paid off. I woke up at 152.0! My body fat percent went down a little, too. This means I’ve lost 21 pounds on the scale!!! I’ve lost 26 pounds of fat and put on 5 pounds of muscle). My plateau in the mid 150’s is over. Before I know it, I will be swimming in the 140’s and wearing my favorite size 8 Levi jeans.

This is a picture of how much FAT I’ve lost!

Image

Why Keto? What on earth is Keto? and are you a crazy person?

Why Keto?

I’ve always been a fan of low-carb diets. Cutting out carbs is a quick way to drop a few pounds and lose your water weight to fit into something you haven’t been able to wear for a while or just to feel better for a special occasion. I’ve also had a low-metabolism since I was a kid, so this diet was something I frequently went to when I felt like my metabolism had helped me add on too many pounds. I successfully lost about 15 pounds in Middle School with a low-carb diet. Of course, I gained it back, but in High School, I lost 20 pounds with a low-carb diet and lots of exercise. Both of these times I ended up weighing between 135 and 125.  Below is me in my senior pictures. I dropped 20 pounds in about 8 weeks with my senior pictures as my motivation.

Image

Fast Forward 5 years, to about 45 days ago. I’m at 173.3. Not the highest weight I’ve ever been, but given the fact that I’d spent the last year hovering around 165, I was not happy. There are a lot of reasons that I got to this weight, many of which I’ll talk about later in other posts. Here’s a picture of me at about this weight. Sucking my gut in, of course. Don’t get me wrong. I think I’m beautiful. Just really unhealthy.

Image

Enough was enough. I immediately put on sweatpants and running shoes and went for a 1.5 mile jog. The next day, the scale didn’t really budge. On top of this, I’d been going to the bathroom about every hour to urinate, and not much was coming out. This happened all day long. A tell-tale sign of diabetes (which I’m über predisposed to have). Given that I knew low-carb diets help regulate insulin levels, I knew that this was the quickest way to get myself back on track.

Except, I didn’t follow through. A true Ketogenic diet keeps carbs that affect your insulin levels (any carbs except sugar alcohols and dietary fiber) at below 20 grams per day, which is about 10% of what the average American woman my height, age and weight is recommended to eat by most nutritionists.  Instead of counting my carbs, I just guesstimated each meal and made sure I didn’t eat all of my potatoes, but a few bites were ok. Or I’d eat a few bites of dessert. And of course, there were special occasions which would require (the new me now roles eyes) me to eat to eat some sort of carb that was bad for me. In reality, I wasn’t eating much different that what an average American probably eats. And in the end, I wasn’t making progress.

So 30 days ago, I woke up committed. I’m not sure why. I just was. I still can’t decide what the determining factor in my attitude change was. I was probably still at about 173, maybe 171 or 172. And I just did it. I’ve cheated once in those 30 days. And I fully regretted it. I just felt gross the next morning.

So, now you are probably wondering the details of what a Ketogenic diet is.

I’m glad you asked!

What is a Ketogenic diet? 

This is going to be the short version. I’ll be posting lots of scientific evidence to support this diet later, but let’s just get a quick, laymen’s term overview.

Your body uses energy, all day, everyday. Primarily, your body will use glucose, aka sugar as the go-to source for energy. If your body has glucose in the blood stream, it will use this first. Most of us live a lifestyle where all our body ever uses is glucose. Glucose will come from any carbohydrate, because as soon as your body breaks down the carbohydrate, it turns into sugar. So that potato you ate, 15 minutes after you ate it, it was primarily sugar. The bun on your burger at lunch, is also sugar by now. If you have excess sugar that your body can’t use, the insulin in your body will carry it back to your cells and store it for later. (In the form of fat.)

If your body can’t find sugar, it will use your liver to turn fat from your cells into ketones. Your body can use the ketones for energy instead of glucose. When your body is only using ketones, your body is using your stored fat as a resource to burn energy. This state is called ketosis. 

So, on the Keto diet, I keep my carbs at about 20 grams. Unless I do a lot of exercising, in which case, I may up my carbs anywhere from 21-30 grams. The less carbs I eat, the more body is relying on my liver to turn my fat into ketones. And as a result, the less I weigh.

So, I’m not a crazy person.

The Ketogenic diet is healthy. In fact, I would argue that it is most like what God would have wanted us to eat. When we think about the Garden of Eden, and life shortly after the fall, there were no processed foods. It was a lot of veggies and meats. Their primary source of sugar would have been fruit, which at least in the western world, are typically only found in the fall, when people may need to put on a little extra weight to keep them warm. 

Also, there is no comparison to how I felt 30 days ago and how I feel today. I feel like a whole new person. I have virtually flawless skin, my nails are super strong, and my mind is super clear. I think more quickly on my feet. I laugh a lot more. I have massive amounts of energy! And I literally mean massive, the other day after power walking for 4.5 miles, I still had so much energy, I was skipping across my house to go to the bathroom. This, coming from the girl that has such a low metabolism that she used to gain weight by looking at food.

In addition, I don’t eat red meat and rabbit food all day. I get to eat things like cheesecake; avacado, bacon, blue cheese lettuce wraps; and loaded mashed cauliflower. And bacon. Lots and lots of bacon! I usually have to force myself to eat more calories so I don’t get pushed into a starvation mode. I love the foods I get to eat on this diet!

Oh. And  for results, in 30 days I’ve lost 14 pounds. I don’t really have a goal weight. My goal is to live this life for the rest of my life. That’s my goal.

So thank you, dear reader, for joining me on this journey. I hope this can be a way to keep me accountable to sticking to the lifestyle. I also hope I may help someone else learn how they can have their life and their body back.