As far as eating plans I’ve tried go, a dry clean keto is relatively painless. You can eat in restaurants. You are full. You drizzle olive oil or butter on your vegetables. You get to eat really delicious cheese and put heavy cream in your coffee. You enjoy red meat and pan sauces. You learn how to portion out traditionally cooked rich foods and savor them. I have come to think of it as the French woman’s whole foods diet.
I’ve reaped many benefits from my very nearly a month of eating this way. I have lost the goal weight. I’m sleeping so, so soundly. I feel appreciative of my partner in life. My work has improved. I’m exercising more. Tasks I’ve avoided are done. My face looks better. I’ve been calmer than ever.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed this. Yet, as it comes to an end I’m eager to finish and irritable when I truly have no reason to be.
I’m no stranger to month long challenges or even more rigorous training programs, like ultra relays. I like to stretch myself and see what I can get out of a disciplined approach.
But to be clear. That is because I am generally not this way.
I’m a foodie that loves cooking and wine. I’m a free spirit that lives in more than one place. I like to balance indulgence with healthy eating and exercise. Sometimes, I get a little heavier than I’d prefer to be. Which may be what attracts me to this idea of a course correction.
Perhaps, I also have the personality that finds allure in trying out a different lifestyle for a bit. I’ve done a few Whole30s, a few dry Januarys, been a vegan, a pescatarian, a nutritarion. Pretty much all the things. None of them sustainable for me, but overall I’d say dry January is the easiest and most rewarding (not drinking? have a mocktail and dessert!) and Whole30 the hardest and most frustrating (waiter, can you repeat the list of additives in that, I think I have to restart my 30 days).
Over time, I’ve found the pattern goes pretty much like this. Week one – I’m giddily consumed with the new thing, week two – I’m setting up my new normal and feeling good, week three – I’m feeling fantastic and reaping all the benefits… and then it all wears off and I’m stuck with the reality that this is going to be my life for ten.more.days.
The agony of inflexibility. The complete disinterest in eating. The desire to pout and seek constant validation because I’ve suddenly find myself in a miserable situation of my own doing and I’m too stubborn to quit. The effort to keep going when your well is dry and with your willpower nearly diminished.
I’m reminded of my first marathon. I loved every day of the training. I loved every minute of the first 20 miles of the race. And then whatever IT is, set in. I hated every second of the last six miles. I had run to my edge and had to keep going or hitchhike. When I could pep talk myself no more, I called my friend and she read me inspirational quotes until my arm could no longer hold up my phone. I think that got me through two of the last six miles. I kept going out of sheer determination and the realization that there was not a position I could put my body in that would feel good anyway. I finished in five hours and ten minutes. Barely a scratch in the 31 day challenge I’ve set forth this time.
I’ve heard that is where the real work begins if you really want to change. To keep going with something after the novelty and benefits wane and you are just burned out. As I sit here on day 28, I’m thinking there is nothing about me that needs to change (LOL) and not only do I not want to do this work, I don’t know what this work is. Does it apply to right now or is it how I choose to live when I complete this challenge?
This has become hard because I feel deprived of choices for the moment. I’ve committed to this and have now missed out on a few things because of it.
It feels so weird, to get your friend a birthday cake and not have any. Here, I’ve brought you this culturally significant treat to recognize your birthday, but actually I think it’s full of things I shouldn’t be eating. It’s a conversation stopper to explain your regimen every time carbs come up. It gets tiresome to defend keto after someone who loves you sees something sensationalized about it on tv.
Anxious thoughts about the pending change fill my head. I wonder what my life would be like if I did this all the time. I imagine myself thin, controlled and highly productive. With no friends, clothing to wear, or patience. What if on February 1st, I have a glass of wine, go nuts and gain 50 pounds? I feel unsure of what I wanted to achieve and what I want in the future. How can I take the best parts of this with me as I add in more flexibility?
What would I recommend to you? For starters, go for 21 days instead of 31. You’ll reap all the benefits and skip the angsty bit. Then you can decide if you want to incorporate any of it in your life. Personally, I don’t know that I can have the fat and the carbs and keep losing weight.
For now, I’ll choose the fat.
But more than ever, I’m recognizing the value in breaking bread with friends, sharing a special dessert with your loved one, and having a glass of wine after a long day.