My personal experiment with keto and why the diet didn’t work for me.
Personally what I’ve experienced to be the biggest roadblock for lasting lifestyle changes seems to be habits. We form them without realising it and now they control what drink we choose at the cafe, what groceries we put into our basket without even thinking, what restaurants we default to for a dinner out and even what we order.
Lasting Healthy Habits
Habits are when our behaviours become automatic. Our brains are constantly looking for shortcuts, and these automatic behaviours are a big way of cutting corners on having to think too much. This is how bad habits also form, our mind reverts to the easier default response no matter how bad it is for us. Breaking bad habits can be more successful if it is changed or replaced with something else.
One habit I was happy to make was flossing my teeth every night. It seems trivial but when I was younger I rarely flossed. While growing up, the health of my teeth was not the best. I made a personal decision to improve this. Driven by how expensive the dentist can be, how irreversible tooth damage is and how a bad set of teeth can actually impact on the overall health of the rest of my body. Now years later I rarely think about flossing each night, it gets done just the same as brushing.
Replace bad habits with new behaviours
Creating good new healthy habits can take a little effort but once it's set it won't require much thought. I made a habit out of drinking a powdered greens drink every morning before having coffee, breakfast or anything else and I stuck with it for years. I formed a habit of drinking black coffee and liking it. I formed habits of default go-to meals being salads or big one pan meat and vegetable dinners.
I figured the best way to form a new habit was to acknowledge exactly what I wanted my new behaviour to be. Then to do it every day or the specific days until it becomes the default. Trying to change more than one behaviour is hard for me, too many balls in the air. Another thing that helps is associating a particular behaviour with something else. Like waking up and taking a supplement every morning. Or flossing every night after brushing. Both I associated and included into existing routines I have going on.
One roadblock can be routine changes. When I quit my job I stopped drinking my green drink every morning. The organization of my mornings were askew and I no longer stuck to my old routine. Another time I ran out of a specific supplement and didn’t get more for a couple of months when it arrived it sat lonely and unopened as I was out of the habit of taking it every morning.
Build Good Habits
The joy with habits is that years later, I realised a majority of my daily positive lifestyle choices were not choices anymore, just habits. For example; it isn't hard to get back to my normal eating after a holiday because it’s become so routine. The key here is time, bad habits were not formed in a day, so adding positive habits won’t happen overnight either. But it is encouraging to know that good habits become part of my life, all I need is time.
Juice! It's so healthy right, this orange juice only has one ingredient, it's all natural. That's what we've been lead to believe at least. But turn that little bottle around and there are 39 grams of carbohydrate in that juice, nearly all of it pure sugar. Think about it this way, you need to eat more than those two oranges to get the same amount of carbohydrates. When have you sat down to your two eggs and bacon breakfast and then polished off two large oranges? I'm prepared to say that it's much less common than polishing off a tall cold glass of juice. Plenty of people still drink juice as part of their "healthy" breakfast or give it to their kids. Recent research presented at the 2018 European Congress on Obesity has shown that children that start their day with juice as a part of their breakfast are 40% more likely to be overweight. How could this happen? It's just fruit, right? I made the quick video below talking about exactly this.
Being in the nutrition field or any health-related field can be all consuming. Health is part of everything we do, it is our life. But it’s easy to get caught up in all the things that are wrong or could be better - our diet, our meditation practice, our exercise, or stretching, vitamin protocol, yoga practise, time away from glowing screens. The list is endless.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that my body wants to be healthy. It is completely natural and innately inbuilt into us to be healthy and heal our body. So when things aren't perfect now, I give myself more grace.
Skincare is pretty important to me as I’m now in my 30’s, prevention is worth more than an ounce of expensive vitamin C skin serum. Since I love spending a lot of time doing outdoor activities, the effect this has on my skin is definitely something I have thought about. Not that I would ever choose to stay indoors to protect my skin, but to acknowledge that it needs extra support. My main concerns, if I can call them that, are skin evenness, tone, redness, dry patches, and fine lines/wrinkles.
Up until I hit 30 I just used Dr Bronners to wash my face and coconut oil or rosehip oil to moisturize, very low tech. But I thought I would branch out and try something new. I already had pretty good skin but maybe amazing skin was just around the corner. The criteria for me was that it had to have ingredients I could recognise, I’m not a fan of any perfumes or strong scents so it had to be gentle in that area too.
The first option.
The first option I tried was this Primally Pure beauty cream which I got back in December last year. It’s based on beef tallow from grass-fed animals so can’t get more natural than that. It also smelled pretty great, my man definitely commented on it. At first, I thought it could be giving me a slight break out when I changed from coconut oil to this. It’s a pretty thick cream and felt heavy at times, I used it before bed exclusively. After a month my skin adjusted to the weight of the cream but I don’t think this would suit everyone.
The second option.
The second option I tried was the Marie Veronique Protective Day Oil, I got this in March. The instructions say to warm up a whole dropper full of oil, warm up between the hands and then massage into face, neck and chest. Honestly, that was way too much oil for me. I would walk around greasy all day. Once I reduced down to around 4 drops my skin decided it liked the oil after all. It absorbs fast and did leave my skin radiant.
I also tried a sample of the Gentle Retinol Night Serum from Marie Veronique but my skin did not like it, and it led to some blemishes which I never usually get. I’m really not sure why. The texture is very light and the smell reminded me of Dr Hauschka products I had tried in the past. Luckily I just paid for a small sample to try instead of committing to a full bottle. I also tried the Cocokind matcha stick, but I just use this on my lips because I love the smell of matcha and coconut together. It reminds me of my peaceful morning at home drinking a mug of matcha.
Then about a month ago I started drinking my essential greens powder every morning as I had done in the past and that alone has made my skin glow more than any of the products I tried. This just reminded me that we can spend hundreds of dollars on skincare but in reality, good skin comes from within. Eating plenty of vegetables full of antioxidants and drinking enough water daily is a lot more important than what cream you smear on your exterior. Limiting processed foods, sugar and alcohol is also key. Skincare and cosmetics are also so heavily marketed to women that it’s hard to not fall victim to their message that we are less-than without the latest product. So this is just a reminder to myself that a consistently healthy diet and lifestyle wins over quick fixes.
I've posted about my favourite powdered greens powder before, check it out here
What are your tried and true skin products?
Success and Failure
I have heard of this mindset shift exercise talked about in relation to small business but I think it can perfectly apply to health.
Write down your goals or priorities, where you want to be in 5 or 10 years with your health, fitness, meditation or yoga practise. Think how future you will spend their day.
Fake it till you make it
Now start acting and spending your time like you are there. You already lost the weight, you fit into your old jeans, you feel confident in your swimsuit. Most importantly you love yourself, now. You have achieved your goals, you are successful and proud. Your day today and every day is exactly how you want your day to be once you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.
You confidently head into that spin class and then throw together a dinner future you would be proud of. We want our brains to stop seeing those roadblocks and just see the end goal, and trust that the results will happen.
Food, Food, Food
I wonder when humans became so obsessed with food? When did it cross over from nourishment to a what it is now? Food has become a symbol of love, entertainment, obsession. People reach for food to numb themselves from sadness or celebrate happiness.
Maybe the introduction of sugar was the culprit. It seems like the most addictive substance we most commonly overeat. Or maybe the introduction of countless other hyper-palatable foods out there like fries, chips, crackers, biscuits which combine tastes (fat and salt, fat and sugar) and combine textures (crunchy and creamy) to make some food hard to resist.
Food on a plate
Whenever I look at our food culture with a new perspective it baffles me how obsessed with food we are. Food is in a countless number of TV shows and social media posts - including my own. Going out to eat has become a sport in itself with new restaurants, hole in the wall places and food trucks that need to be tried. Just looking at the meme’s about food in general but mainly chicken nuggets or pizza tells us about how food has become part of popular culture.
In a world with more people who are obese than starving. Where food-related lifestyle diseases are on the rise. Are we consuming food or has food consumed us? Do you think people are too obsessed with food? Or are you just thinking about what you’re going to eat next?
The elusive force that is holding us all back. If only we could find it and hold on to it long enough to get fit, eat healthily or overhaul all those bad habits. At least that's what many people tell themselves, scrolling social media to get inspired enough by someone to make a salad or hit the gym.
Choosing between what we want now and what we want most.
There’s plenty of articles and blog posts online talking about how to get and stay motivated. What’s missing is that successful people aren't always motivated. Everyone has the days when they are tired and take out is so much more appealing than the cold meal you have waiting for you in the fridge, the same one you’ve eaten the last two days. Or days when we drag out getting to the gym, wandering around the house aimlessly in activewear, procrastinating. But successful people push through not being motivated in the moment because they have a long-term goal in mind. Or have turned these actions into habits so they get done without thinking too much about it.
Talk does not cook rice.
Do you know a person who is always talking about wanting to get healthy, or shed a few pounds or take up a new sport but just doesn't do anything about it? “I don’t have time”, they say. Let me challenge that and say that you just aren't prioritising your time. If you are watching one show on Netflix a day or spending 20 minutes on social media that’s time you could have used to cook a healthy meal or do a bodyweight circuit at home to get a sweat going.
Make time or make an excuse
Write out your priorities in order of most important to least important and I will bet that watching TV or scrolling social media isn't at the top, chances are these aren't even on your list. Watching Game of Thrones in its entirety probably isn't a popular life goal.
One last tidbit. Don’t overcomplicate it! When trying to establish that healthy improved lifestyle, start small. When we change one thing at a time, we are much more likely to stick with it and turn it into a habit. Keep it simple and don’t sweat the small stuff. If you miss a scheduled workout or end up ordering pizza for dinner - that’s life. Just make sure you get to your next scheduled workout and your next meal is home cooked. Avoid extreme changes and set yourself up for success.
We have the option to compare more than ever before
The upswing in interest in health and eating that has resulted from social media has really made me focus on our obsession with food and comparing ourselves. There are so many people shilling “health” information online, some good and some totally unsubstantiated and some personal opinions. If a celebrity or influencer is doing it, then I can see how it would motivate others to follow the same advice in the hopes of some kind of radical change in their lives.
When I get sucked in by this atmosphere it can be easy to think that if I just follow this smoothie-only program I too can look like that person. When I see the seemingly perfect life in a stylish apartment filled with all the expensive food and beauty products it’s easy to feel jealous or that I need to go out and buy those things. Not acknowledging that maybe they were paid to post about said products or sent them for free to try.
Smoothies all day
I have to admit that seeing beautifully styled bowls of coconut or almond yoghurt, topped with grain-free granola and chia seeds makes me want to go and make that. Totally disregarding that a meal of purely nuts and seeds won’t leave me feeling good. I have to remind myself to keep my eyes on my own plate and eat for my own needs and health goals instead of what’s trending online. I have to listen to my own body, no one else can do that for me and tell me exactly what it needs. I can’t be embarrassed if I have to make an unpopular choice of what my body needs instead of a picture perfect acai bowl that will leave my blood sugar crashing in a couple of hours and my hunger through the roof. We can’t compare what we are eating to others, in real life or online.
Broccoli as a protein source?
The other side of the influx of health and wellness information online is that anyone can post anything. There are so many totally inaccurate claims circulating out there and someone whose idea of a good time isn't reading books and studies on health may find themselves confused and conflicted. Everyone is trying intermittent fasting or keto, should I do that too? Doing a week-long juice cleanse or having smoothies for two meals a day seems popular now, is that right for my goals? It’s easy to get swept up along with the rush of people wanting to try something new.
Resisting the IG vortex
I use social media because I love being inspired, interact and see new ideas and products. But I definitely am the first to notice myself scrolling mindlessly and acknowledging that I need to put the phone down. I’m also quick to unfollow someone who’s content makes me upset, makes me feel like my life isn't enough, makes me feel unhappy with my body. I don’t need those feeling in my life, I don’t want to be triggered into feeling down.
My ultimate reminder to myself is to not spiral down the social media rabbit hole too frequently. Stick to what I know my body needs. Continue educating myself on what is best for me and not via dramatized posts online. I have to walk my own journey, we all do.