The struggle is real

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For the longest time I breezed through my keto journey with ease. No struggles, no cravings, immune to temptations. All of a sudden I find myself struggling and losing control.

But let's back up a little.

I started my keto journey in October of 2019. At the time I was class 3 obese, had 30+ years of yoyo dieting under my belt. Short of surgery, I tried pretty much everything.

I firmly believed that I needed to eat less and move more to lose weight. Why did I believe that? Dieticians, doctors, medical associations, Big Food, and everyone else ... they all repeated the same message. Losing weight was a matter of energy balance. To lose weight I needed to ingest less calories and exercise to expand more calories. Sounded simple, and made sense.

What happened though was that a few weeks or months into a new diet, battling hunger and fatigue, I could not stick with the diet. I thought this was a matter of willpower, which I clearly lacked. It made me feel like a failure.

Some TV guru said, willpower doesn't exist, it is a matter of maturity. All I needed to do was to make the mature decision to not eat too much food and keep up with my exercise regime. When I failed to do that, I felt even more guilty. Not only did I let myself go, I lacked the maturity to pull myself out of my misery.

What caused me to go off track?

Well-meaning friends told me I shouldn't restrict myself. I could only stick to a diet, if I allowed an occasional treat. To the carb-addicted brain, this made so much sense. So I scheduled a treat. Something that was not plan of the diet, something special, something I would only allow myself this one time. To keep me on track.

The result was that I completely lost control. Imagine alcoholics, rewarding themselves for 3 months of sobriety with a glass of wine. The flaw in this is easy to understand. It is no different for a carb addict.

What about motivation?

The same TV guru said, that motivation only lasts as long as it is bigger than the pain. And here he was actually onto something. He meant, being obese is painful in an emotional sense. With some weight lost, the pain is less. On the other hand, we start feeling miserable and deprived. We start questioning ourselves. How much pain are we actually in? Eventually the pain of being unhappy, our motivation, isn't enough to keep us on track.

What changed in October of 2019?

Simply put, I feared for my life. I had a clear vision of not making it for another three years. In a stroke of luck, a friend pointed me to Dr. Stephen Phinney.

I watched these two videos and was sold on keto:

Dr. Stephen Phinney - 'Recent Developments in LCHF and Nutritional Ketosis' (Part 1)

Dr. Stephen Phinney - 'Recent Developments in LCHF and Nutritional Ketosis' (Part 2)

Following keto changed two things I never felt were important.

  1. Addressing hunger: I was never hungry. I was able to eat until comfortably full. The cravings just went away
  2. Health and happiness: I felt and was so much healthier and happier, like a switch was flipped

For two years this and support from the low carb community was all I needed.

What is my struggle?

As I said, I breezed through this without any struggles. It was so easy, that I was erroneously under the impression, that it should be this easy for everyone. In my mind, if it wasn't easy, people were clearly doing something wrong.

In my mind I could not imagine that I would ever waver.

I underestimated the power of carb addiction. I underestimated the power of binge eating and food addiction. Suddenly, the feeling of being satiated doesn't seem to be enough.

Since keto, I have found the newly gained control over food to be exhilarating. Now, it doesn't seem to matter.

I did great on Modified Alternate Day Fasting, I did great on carnivore 12 weeks carnivore - my trial to improve my health, but now I seem to struggle.

Oddly, I have no problems sticking to ketovore. Feeling healthy is enough of a motivation to keep me from reverting to a SAD diet. I still have a healthy aversion to food products that made me sick. I am also not dealing with hunger, as the foods I eat still keep me satiated. But I eat, despite not being hungry. My weight is stuck. I make plans to do better and don't stick to them.

One thing I discoverd is that it is possible to overeat on keto. I am not even talking about keto treats. I mean overeating eggs, meat, and fish. Satiety triggers should tell me to stop eating. But presently they don't.

This is my struggle. To address it I will go back to the basics, simply by tracking everything I eat. I will be reporting in our Facebook group how and if this small change affects my behaviour.

Final thought: The silver lining is that by experiencing the struggle, I can better empathize with those that go through the same struggle. It is a humbling feeling.

Written by Roxana Soetebeer
Published: February 12th, 2022


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