I lost more than 30 pounds since starting the Keto Diet in October of 2017. If you’re unfamiliar… The Ketogenic Diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate way of eating that turns the body into a fat burning machine.
I’m also Pescatarian and call my way of eating “Clean Keto.” The backbone of my diet is organic leafy greens and veggies, sustainable seafood, and healthy fats. I also practice intermittent fasting and intuitive eating, which is basically just a fancy way of saying that I listen to my body and only eat when I’m hungry vs. eating at traditional meal times.
This is what an average day of eating and fitness looks like for me:
Morning: I tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with a La Croix sparkling water (Apple Cider Vinegar reduces inflammation)
Mid-Morning: Bulletproof Coffee
Early Afternoon (usually 1 or 2 p.m. post workout hunger begins to strike): 3 scrambled eggs with brie cheese and 1/2 avocado)
Afternoon: Mixed nuts snack
Early Evening: Teach group fitness class
Dinner: Fish or Shrimp sautéed in butter with a side veggie (like spinach, broccoli, zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice) and side salad with oil and vinegar dressing
Night Time Snack: A couple of squares of 90% or higher dark chocolate OR Lily’s Stevia sweetened chocolate. This brand rocks.
I also do two, mile-long walks with my dog each day. And while there’s no question that I’m stoked about the weight loss, I’m even more passionate about the way it’s up’ed my mental game. Through my own experiences, I’ve come to learn that there’s a direct correlation between food and mood, which brings me to my reason for writing today.
(If you’re mostly interested in the weight loss journey part, you can read the full story about my transformation here.)
A couple blog posts back, I mentioned that fateful day in 2007 when I was diagnosed with depression. When leaving the office after receiving the diagnosis, my psychologist handed me a sheet of paper which listed a variety of “good mood foods.” The list included things like salmon, nuts, and berries. It also recommended avoiding things like starchy vegetables, bread and pasta. At the time, I didn’t make the correlation between sugar & carbs being culprits in the “bad mood foods.”
The sheet of paper was prominently displayed on my fridge for years, and while I ate the “good mood foods,” I wasn’t diligent about cutting out the “bad mood foods.” Now, as I reflect on my keto journey and history with depression – I can clearly see that exercise and clean eating have always played a major role. But the clean eating part is where the discrepancies lived, in my world…
I’ve been an athlete my whole life (I played college tennis and I currently teach group fitness), and I always thought that I was “eating right.” When I was growing up, the low-fat movement was in full swing. Companies were constantly marking “low-fat” this and “low-fat” that. I thought, by choosing a granola bar over an avocado, I was doing the right thing. I never thought of fat as fuel, and no one really talked about sugar.
It wasn’t until, at age 38 when I started researching Keto, I realized sugar was the enemy in disguise. Sugar is what led to my consistent weight gain over the years. And I’m not just talking about sweet treats; I’m talking about the sugar that hides in the carbohydrates that I was so mindlessly consuming on a daily basis while thinking I was eating clean. Fat wasn’t making me fat. Sugar was! I won’t even get into the disease prevention part of it in this blog – but if you’re curious, I highly recommend the Netflix documentary The Magic Pill.
I’m embarrassed to admit that, when I was at the height of my depression, I’d sometimes “make myself feel better” with sweet treats like ice cream and candy. Little did I know that I was actually making my depression worse with these choices. Keto didn’t enter my life until I had already healed from depression (I haven’t had a depressive episode in more than a decade), but I can say, with certainty, that when I cut sugar out of the equation, my mood most definitely improved.
When I ditched the sugar and the weight began to fall off, I experienced other amazing changes too: My mental clarity skyrocketed. I was becoming more productive and getting more work done. My energy level increased. My skin cleared up. Monthly cramps went away, and I no longer craved carbs and sugar… my taste buds changed, and things that I used to love, like my favorite red wine, became too sweet. (Side note: I eat chocolate almost every day; I just make sure to get the 90% or higher cocoa kind. After my taste buds changed, this became totally satisfying, and I don’t even want anything sweeter now).
I’m a big believer in sharing the things that I’m passionate about, so if you’re looking to make one dietary change to improve your health and mood: try giving up sugar. I promise – you’ll feel so much better. And with products on the market like Lakanto MonkFruit and Swerve, you can easily make this lifestyle work for you without feeling deprived. That’s the reason why, after all these years struggling with my weight, I’m so passionate about Clean Keto. It’s been the most effective, easiest weight loss journey I’ve ever experienced. I could go on about it forever, which is why I started my own Keto Fit Tribe group on Facebook. It’s just community support and a place for us to share recipes, tips, and motivation. Join us if you feel inspired to do so 🙂
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog today.