Health & Fitness

My 31-Day Keto Diet Transformation

It was the last few months of 2017 and boy, it was a rough few months for me. With so many life changes happening, I found myself at the corner of mental and physical exhaustion. I found myself needing moments to take deeper breaths, to let out a big sigh, to stop and count to 3… Bottling so much stress inside, it ended up taking the very best of me and I started to neglect my mental and physical health. I gained 12 pounds in a short 3-month period, suffered from a shingle-outbreak for 5 weeks due to my high emotional stress level. My eczema kept flaring up and this was all accompanied with the worst anxiety in years…What happened? This was not me. I was yearning for positive change. I needed to retrain my mind to conquer again. I desperately needed myself back…

I decided to look for a new way of getting back on track with my health and fitness. The Keto diet was always interesting to me but I never really considered doing it as it was hard for me to comprehend eating that much fat. I mean, we’ve all heard it all before: eating lots of fat can cause heart problems, clog your arteries, bad for your cholesterol, etc. I am by no means a doctor or nutritionist so please do your own research before embarking on any changes in your lifestyle.

I had the common questions before going Keto. Was this diet a fad? Is it sustainable? Was that awful Keto flu real? How long would it last? Can I even tolerate it? Can my body switch from being a carb burner to a fat burner for energy? Can I get abs from this? 😉 But really though, can I get abs? 😊 I researched all things Keto and I thought “the only way to find out if fat makes you fat is to just do it and see for myself”. Worst case scenario is if it doesn’t work, I can just stop. Curiosity coupled with my experimental nature led me down the rabbit hole.

But first… what in the world is Keto/Ketosis? There are several ways to say what it is but let’s keep it quite simple. It is a state of which your body is burning fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. How do you get there? Your body must be in a state of low insulin. Consuming foods that do not spike your insulin (storage hormone) is key to achieving optimal results on the Keto diet. Carbs are notorious for spiking your insulin levels so you consume very minimal of it to keep your insulin levels low to burn our stored fat for energy. It takes time to be in a state of Ketosis and varies for everyone. The goal is to train your body to be fat-adapted, burning fat for energy.

After deciding this is what I wanted to do, I made a Keto food list. I loaded up on groceries at Costco (you can check out my YouTube video above to see what I grabbed during my Keto haul). I tried my best to stick to whole foods (with bacon & spicy sausages being an exception), avoiding as much processed foods as possible. Here is a food chart of what I mostly ate during the diet.

I kid you not when I say that I did NOT count one single calorie during these 31 days. I did NOT weigh food. I did NOT have a timer on eating every 3-4 hours. I ate a substantial portion of fats (mostly plant-based fats i.e. avocado, almond butter, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil), my meals consisted of 75% fats, 20% proteins, 5% carbs. I ate intuitively and listened to my body, which was a big first for me during a “diet”. I wanted to see if Keto was something I can do without so much regulations and preparation like I have done in the past so that is what I chose to do. Of course, this is my Keto journey and I did what I thought would be best for my preferred lifestyle based on my past experiences with dieting.

Here’s my 4 week recap of it all.

Week 1:
I was a hungry-hungry- hippo! I was ravenous, eating as much as I could (foods within Keto compliance). I don’t normally eat cheese but I thought it’ll be great way to reach my desired fat intake (75%) of my diet. So, I loaded up on cheese (bad idea for me). I rarely eat cheese and I was eating so much of it, my eczema was flaring up like crazy. After Day 3, I decided to say bye to cheese. I also decided to say bye to the berries I bought as well. Why? Well, because I’m an absolute masochist, duh! Ok, so I thought if I keep eating these berries, it’s still triggering carb cravings for me and I want to come out clean and not crave carbs/sugar after this whole journey. So, the berries I bought had to go for me. My water intake was consistently a gallon (128 fluid oz.) every day. I have always strive to drink that much water a day because I just absolutely love it that much (not kidding, ask anyone that knows me).

I was having carb cravings the first 4-5 days but honestly, I was so mentally committed it was not a big deal for me as I knew they were withdrawals and were temporary. One thing I did do to keep myself accountable was testing my ketone levels in my urine with ketone strips that I bought off Amazon. I tested my ketone levels every few days. At the end of week 1 I was definitely in ketosis.  Not only did the strips told me so, I was starting to feel the warned “Keto flu” or “Carb flu”! It is a natural process that happens when your body is going through the withdrawals of carbs. My body was switching from burning carbs to trying to burn fat for the first time ever and this I knew was a normal reaction when transitioning but boy, was it is painful. I knew I just had to sit tight and fight through the symptoms.

The symptoms included nausea, drowsiness, lethargies, migraines and fatigue. Why was this happening to me? My body was adjusting to burning fat for energy instead of carbs for energy and I did not have the metabolic flexibility to switch so easily, so therefore I started to experience the Keto flu symptoms. Also, my electrolytes were not balanced. My body was in a state of low insulin which causes my body to excrete more fluids, flushing out all my electrolytes causing an imbalance during this transition period.

As far as my workout regiment, I did weight training, high intensity interval training (my favorite with a jump rope) followed by a 15-minute sauna session. I worked out fasted, first thing in the morning, 4 times a week. I love working out fasted (that is another topic on it’s own but let’s stick to Keto). Below is my weekly workout schedule.

Monday: Leg & Glutes Day  + 10 mins of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) + 15 minutes of sauna
Tuesday: Back & Biceps Day + 10 mins of HIIT + 15 minutes of sauna
Wednesday: Chest & Triceps Day + 10 mins of HIIT + 15 minutes of sauna
Thursday:  Abs + 10 mins of HIIT + 15 minutes of sauna
Friday: Active rest (2-3 mile walk)
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Rest

My workout sessions this week weren’t the best as I was so out of shape. I barely had energy, let alone explosive energy to crush my workouts. The struggle was real to complete my workouts. I had a long way to go to rebuild my strength and endurance again.

Week 2:
Little did I know the Keto flu symptoms were going to get more intense. I was now in week 2 and it was going strong. The headaches were off and on in week 1 but week 2 was something else. There were days I couldn’t lift my head off my pillow because my headache was pounding so hard that any movement made these awful headaches even worse.  To keep myself focused, I kept reading articles that assured me this is nothing to be alarmed about. This is the classic case of hazing to switch over to a much cleaner, better energy source (burning fat instead of carbs) and it’s temporary.

On top of the Keto flu, I broke out in a minor rash around my chest/collar bone. I read of this happening as a side effect and was really hoping it wouldn’t happen to me because I was also trying to get rid of my eczema outbreak during this transition. From what I read, the Keto rash was temporary and occurs during the beginning stages of starting the Keto diet. It can be due to the detoxification period where the toxins in your body are coming out through your biggest organ – your skin. The rash happens in areas where we tend to sweat the most as well. I did embark on this Keto journey knowingly this could happen, so I knew I had to just wait it out at this point.

I had a mantra I repeated in my head “If you give up now, you give up a lot. You give up mental fortitude and that is non-negotiable!” That sure did help me sit tight through the pain as I desperately needed my will power back. Oh, and venting to my husband.😊

Compared to the keto flu, the food was the easy part now. Fats taste great! I love fatty foods (always have and undoubtedly always will). So much flavor in it! My thoughts and cravings for carbs were lessening significantly. I found satisfaction in all my meals I ate. I did not dread eating what I had to eat, I enjoyed it.

I was down 6 pounds at his point. I was looking so much better and back to fitting into most of clothes again (thank goodness because I don’t enjoy shopping…especially for bigger clothes!). My workouts still were not explosive because I just did not have the energy but I did get through them a lot better than week 1.

Week 3:
My Keto flu was still in full effect in the beginning of week 3. I desperately wanted it to be over but read cases where they last up to 30 days (seriously). I was really questioning if my whole 31-day Keto experience was going to be just the Keto flu? How awful would that be?! I looked into remedies for and found a lot of people drank bone broth or just tapped some “lite” salt on your tongue to help lessen the symptoms.

While still battling the Keto flu, aesthetically I was shrinking. My face, thighs, back side, mid-section were all melting away. I was in awe. When I gain weight, it goes to my face first, every… time. It then creeps to my thighs, midsection and so forth. In my before and after photos, you can visually see those areas are where I lost the most fat. At this point, I lost 8 pounds but my body composition changed so much it looked like I lost more than 8 pounds. I was really aiming to change my body composition rather than a drastic change on the scale. I wanted to retain as much muscle as possible during this journey.

However, something stranger was happening to me this week…my hunger was almost nonexistent compared to the start of week 1. Again, I ate intuitively and listened to my body. When I was hungry, I would eat. When I wasn’t, I didn’t eat. As long as it was in my 8-9 hour eating window (intermittent fasting – another Tippy Tale on it’s own). It was that simple. When I ate, I was so full and so satisfied. I didn’t want to snack in between meals. As fats and proteins provide a higher level of satiety than carbs, naturally I felt less hungry.

This was so incredible to me as I was that girl that got “hangry” if I didn’t have many meals, every 3-4 hours and snacks throughout the day. My mood depended on my food intake. My mood and energy level was stable throughout the day with only one or two small meals. How can my energy and mood level be stable without a lot of food? Well, it was because my body was “fat-adapted”. This meant my body had switched over to a fat-burning metabolism vs. a carb-burning metabolism and once your body makes that switch, you’ll experience blood sugar levels that are lower and more balanced. As a consequence, your mood and energy levels will remain stable through the day. Never have I experienced this! Big win for me!

Week 4 + Final Days:
     After 21 days…My keto flu was non-existent! Whoo! My best days were ahead of me. My mood and energy level did not have spikes. My energy and endurance was now explosive in the gym. I was able to really say “I crushed it today!” out loud and feel so proud of my workouts. I finally was able to chin-ups (2) with a witness aka my husband around. Hah! I have always struggled so much with upper body strength and did one chin-up in 2017 (with no witnesses haha). However, this time, it was legit because my husband (chin-up referee) said so.😉 My HIIT workouts were intense as ever and sauna sessions were well deserved. All this, completely fasted first thing in the morning. If someone told me this was going to me at week 4 of this… I honestly would very skeptical. Having lived this and fully experienced this, I am now a believer.

I did not lose muscle as I was losing weight, as this was my experience when I was prepping for a fitness photoshoot last year. I retained and built muscle during this Keto process. It was clear this was happening as I saw gains all throughout my body and workouts.

Day 31:
I went from 128.6lbs to 118.4 lbs. My total weight loss was -10.2 lbs. standing at 5 feet 6 inches. I can honestly say I love my body now. No reservations. Love. I have weighed less before in my lifetime but have never felt strong and empowered at those weights. Not this time. Owning it and loving it 100%. Why? Because I know the damage I did to myself before this journey (mentally and physically) and vow to never let that happen again. I want to live my best life and I cannot do that if I do not have my health, this is my biggest investment of all. Below are my before and after results photos.




FAQ 

Q: Is this sustainable?
A: Yes, once you understand the diet, you can turn it into a lifestyle and find balance. Out of all the diets I have tried (trust me I have tried a lot – again, another Tippy Tale) this is by far my favorite. I hope to live a healthy life without depriving myself. That is why I did not want to count calories and weigh my foods during this keto journey. To me, that is ok for short-term but not long-term. I strive for an 80/20 Keto lifestyle. 80% of time you’re on, 20% you’re freely indulging. I have not fluctuated in over 2 months post my 31-day keto challenge being 80/20.
Q: Will I continue Keto?
A: Yes, off and on with the 80/20 rule.

Q: What about when you travel?
A: I do love traveling and when I do, I immerse myself in the cultural foods. You can find keto compliance food within all cultural diets.

Q: Can you cheat on Keto?
A: No, not when you are resetting your metabolism. Cheating will kick you out of ketosis.  I did NOT  have any treat meals (I don’t like the term “cheat meal”) within the 31 days so I could have optimal results, reset my metabolism and retrain my body to burn fat instead of carbs.

Final thoughts:

Listen, there are so many ways to get healthy. So many ways to getting the results you desire mentally and physically. Is Keto for everyone? I don’t think so. But is there any one diet that is for everyone? I don’t think so either. We all have preferences with food, workouts, goals, etc. I am a big proponent of doing what suits you best. My goal was to find something that I could honestly say I can apply the 80/20 rule to and not have to feel like I am constantly on a “diet”. I wanted to find a lifestyle where I did not get tired of. I know anywhere I go, I can make this work for me now based on the foods available. It has been two months since I went Keto for 31 days straight. I have not fluctuated in weight. I am still at 118 lbs. enjoying the flexible 80/20 lifestyle. The hazing Keto period was worth it to reaps the benefit of being a fat-burner vs. being a carb-burner my whole life. I’ve never felt more sharper mentally and stronger physically than I do now. Safe to say I am a fan of the Keto lifestyle. 😊

Thank you so much for taking your time and reading this Tippy Tale as I believe time is the best gift we can give anyone and I thank you that you’ve given me your time today. If you have any questions, comments, etc. post it down below in the comment section. I’d love to hear your feedback!

With Love + Gratitude,