Being in Ketosis is the way my body runs best. Fat will be my primary source of fuel – whether accessed through fasting or low carb / ketogenic diet. But… if I get stuck, and my results stop coming, wouldn’t it be insane if I didn’t try something different? What surprises many is even though I love the power of keto, I do not strive to remain in a constant state of Ketosis for the rest of my life.
I’ve arrived at a “maintenance mode” in terms of daily diet. My choices are easier and my environment removes willpower from the equation when deciding what to eat. I’m very well fat-adapted, with experience in fasting and how it can be used to keep balance. These days, I’m able to focus more energy away from daily diet decisions to finding ways to create new traditions supporting my healthier lifestyle. I actively strike new balance with family and friends who aren’t low carb.
This post is about how I am finding Balance in Tradition, Carbs, and Keto.
Tradition Does Not Equal Carbs
My traditional heritage is rooted in time spent with family. What carbs I choose or choose not to eat is not a factor in my enjoyment of the tradition. I get to:
- Spend time with those closest to me
- Engage in Conversation
- Share Stories
- Take a Walk in Nature
- Sing a Song
Nowhere on that list are carbohydrates. So, simply: when questions come up about my chosen keto diet, I am comfortable fielding the questions because I have decided I am always putting my health first. And I’ve been living proof to my friends and family that health comes from my choices, so the questions are fewer and more far between. Which is great, because now I get to focus on building up the lifestyle I want.
Tradition Equals Memories
Tradition is about moments. Freezing memories in my mind, cherishing them, with the hopes of revisiting something similar – but always entirely different on our next kick at the can. I get the chance to ‘practice’ different traditions every time my friends and family gather. Each time it’s a little different – and when we’re all healthy together, it’s just a little more special.
Tradition is never simply gathering, sitting at a table, passing food around without sharing stories, meaningful conversations, or physical activity. If they were void of those things, traditions would feel empty.
So I have found that in regaining my health and going keto, my draw to the ‘traditional comfort foods’ much lessened. I am very comfortable with what I choose to consume, and at this point, so is my family.
I’m proud they have accepted this way of eating, in large part because they see it has improved all aspects of my physical and mental well-being. I believe most people who are apprehensive about trying keto – for fear of being ostracized by their carb-loving family – would be surprised by the support they would receive if they opened up and talked about the change with their loved ones. Try it, and if you need some advice on that conversation, send me a message.
Avoid Dogma in Your Diet
With all the buzz lately around keto, I believe even more important than avoiding carbs is avoiding dogma.
Here’s a story for you… The other night, I was really craving an orange. I had just peeled two of them for my daughter, and they just smelled and looked so appetizing. So, did I turn up my nose and fry up a package of bacon? No, not that evening. Instead, I went ahead and peeled one. I took a long evening stroll, enjoyed the fruit, and when I got home felt great. Had an awesome sleep, and the next morning felt no ill-effects. I was back in ketosis by my next meal. So, really, having the odd carb here and there is not going to be the end of the world or reverse your progress.
Don’t worry about the ‘keto police‘ coming to get you, or feeling guilt about getting ‘knocked out’ of ketosis. I implore you to own it. This is your life, for the rest of your life, so make sure you know to make sustainable choices and own them. Educate yourself on metabolism so feel like you’ve got the ability to make these kinds of judgement calls on your own, and not rely on what a book or app or website tells you.
You are an adult, you know that eating a bag of oranges will set you back from your goals… so if it does, either accept the setback or be disciplined and don’t eat the whole damn bag of oranges. Simple as that!
Follow your own rules, be flexible, and be willing to adapt.
Balancing Goals: Weight Loss, Maintenance and Life
What’s your current goal?
- Weight loss? Trust me, try Keto.
- Health benefits? Keto will probably be a good start.
- Maintain weight and health? Keto is great – but – it might not be the only way. Experiment!
I’ve found it best to ‘lean in hard‘ to the ketogenic way of eating to fast-track your body’s switch to ‘fat burning’ mode. 20g net carbs / day or less! This minimizes symptoms of adaptation, and is motivating because you see results quickly. This is encouraging, as I believe small steps build lasting success.
That said, this “leaning in hard” with strict adherence to keto is necessary for those whose primary goal is to lose body fat quickly. For others, simply going low carb will be enough to elicit many of the health benefits keto brings. And for others at maintenance: re-introducing carbs could be a healthy way for you to keep yourself balanced – again self-experimentation is key here. The point is, the quicker you want the weight to come off, the more disciplined you need to be with yourself.
Try to gain 80% of the health benefits (ie: lose 80% of the weight) first… go hard. Get it done. Then, if you ‘let up’ on yourself and you are OK with it, then why the hell care what anyone else thinks? You have a lifetime to optimize, and dabble here and there.
Who knows – you might even discover higher carb works even better for you once your hunger cues and leptin signaling has been fixed by correcting your obesity / type 2 diabetes! Again, keep dogma out of your health decisions. Go by what works for you, and in the long run it is very unlikely one dietary approach will be the panacea.
Fasting Helps Find Balance
I have to touch on fasting, because there are a few things I love about it when it comes to making a healthy lifestyle sustainable.
First, fasting builds discipline. Morning meeting muffins? Old me would think: “MMM…” and grab the best looking one. Today (even if it was a delicious keto chocolate cake*), if I was fasting it isn’t even an exercise of willpower to walk straight past them. “No thanks, not interested…”
*But if it was really my keto cake, I’d be back as soon as my ‘eating window’ was open 😉
Second, it makes food special, and the choices / planning in what I’ll eat at my next opportunity really matters. My appetite will overpower my cravings – and I’ll pick what will nourish me, not what will elicit the most dopamine release. True hunger is “the best sauce”. Imagine the first bite of a delicious steak after a fast … there is nothing better, and the responses you get from consuming real food is so much different than the ‘pleasure’ you get from a sweet treat.
Finally, it enables me to balance times of feasting with times of stoic maintenance. When holiday parties get lined up, I can be stress-free as I build a fasting ‘calendar’ around them. Sometimes, a relatively ‘slow’ week rolls around, so I can fast without need to explain why I’m not eating at a family dinner function. Weekend up at the cottage? I’m fasting to lead up to it, feast on great food, and use that extra energy to fuel activity. This extra activity while fueled will support anabolism (muscle building) and so it’s the ultimate keto Win-Win!
My message here is: if you are worried about starting Keto and never eating pasta again, or if you’re a Keto veteran turning your nose up at any carb over your 20g net without thinking twice… I say: stop and think. Do what works for you, and aligns with your goals.
Me? I’m enjoying a balanced life and working on building traditions (making keto adherence simple). Once this lifestyle becomes second nature, maintenance is effortless and results are amazing.
So take some time to evaluate your goals. Make things easier, don’t be hard on yourself, and avoid fighting ‘upriver‘ all the time 😉
Until next time, Ciao!