Here I share with you my food for thoughts; on the basis of my 13 months of Ketogenic regime. There is something here for everyone to learn and gather as much as I’ve felt out of this elusive, feeble, yet resilient – way of life. I will publish this entire Anniversary post in three separate blog articles.
Part I/III – “The Realisation”
This is part one out of three; of which I begin with an introduction and a brief history; over how it all started.
Disclaimer and warnings
All this is a subjective living account over the context of sustaining within frugality. That is; objectively speaking – a sharing of thoughts upon nutritional sustenance; within tenaciously limited fiscal resources. This lifestyle I follow at many prolonged times beyond / outside of my will or choice – only serves as anecdotal account of lone survival.
We are all too individually chaotic enough as a result. As such, all this is not suggestive towards any empirical ways or interpretations of absolute nor politically “correct” or accepted – medical or nutritional advices. Nor is this to be digested as a guidance that will work in every infinitely-diverse physiologies.
Should anything goes adverse, mitigate and experiment a small change one thing at a time. Progressively through your own humility. Repeat until you have become AWARE of what needs to be expected to make your transition of all the more understandable of everything there is around you.
…So who am I?
A skinny “ectomorph”. A skinny-fat 30 something male struggling to make a mark amidst today’s homogenised, industrialised noise of progressive, unemphatic thinking. From food acceptances / elitisms, all the way to politics (office and of the world) and down to social economics.
I have been a simple man, and a human being all along; yet highly conflicted in mind and body. I grew increasingly dubious, curious and skeptical over what and how conformities develop, exist and flourish all seemingly (and suspiciously) all converge into one pursuit. A pursuit for correctness. A pursuit and thirst over attaining influence over “finalising” what is “good”, what is empirically, concretely or objectively – “correct”.
So, what was I to do? I was naive. I just want things “simple”. Hence, for a good decade or so, I reeled into becoming both passive and conservative. For a good ten or so years having succumbed to the “health” and “fitness” oriented lifestyle – I lost count over how many times I’m told of the same thing over and over again – “just eat more and lift more.”.
Years of brown rice, dirty tupperwares piling up the kitchen. ..That – and until side effects resulted. Agitations; from head to toe.
Upper right back spasms, stomach congestions, brain congestions, slurred speeches, gut “thickness”, feeling of congestions and butterflies in public spaces. Everything in my internals feels “crowded”. My lower back pain/s, rare but excruciating – the pinched nerves in my neck – were all I remembered week/s in and out.
All cascaded from one subtle pain, masquerading itself as an effect to another. Until another huge troubling sign in the midst of it all – the financial obligations and money spent just to keep following, complying and subscribing – to the widely conservative dogmas of nutrition and living.
So between the years 2012 to 2014, I started questioning things, and wanting to try and experience life differently.
Gathering as many reading materials as possible. From one dietary regime to another. I see myself stumbling from fruitarians then raw meat diets.Yet no other paradigm I find were as controversially convincing as Ketogenic diet. But nothing captivated me than the elusivity behind perceiving all there is about fats that we still are debating to no end.
I was intrigued to Keto because fats – have been one macro nutrient which I have never dared to implore nor instigate before deeply through all my life. I thus gave myself a choice at a crossroad thus far in life – where I could take this opportunity for daring to live life differently or remain “unchanged” and explored none at all.
May 2014 / The commencement
On one Wednesday winter evening in May – I spent over one and half hours all out (or all-in should I say) worth of training to excruciatingly “depleting” all my glycogen reserves into one workout. One night before my very first Ketogenic breakfast in the next morning.
“Chest pains? nope. Back pains? nope. Strength reduction? Nope. I was fearless. I noticed and felt none of these concerns. The very first time I had those slices of ham with a block of butter and coconut oil defenitely felt different. Unforgettable.
A rush of anxious energy from within. From head to toe. A rush of energy that motivates me to get in the car and just head straight to the gym. I felt energised. I did not even feel the need to down my intra workout shakes or amino acids while resting between freeweights benching 10% over my weight with a finisher superset 10-rep diamond pushups inbetween.
June 2014 – Hopeful “Hopes”
More questions in my head began ringing loudly and abound. The first month of SKD has passed. Was I convinced so early over that energy rush? Sure thing indeed I was….But never forever.
Anxiety – then unfolded over prescribing to my own inert wishes of something else”more significant”. Thinking that one day I could just wake up not hungry at all. And where’s that expotentially HUGE mental clarity everyone’s talking about. Or that extra new record I could easily break at the gym? Sadly, I felt increasingly distant from such hype. Anxiety brews even further.
Am I there yet? Is my body there yet? Do I feel “there” yet? Is my Ketostix turned purple yet? Does my breath “stinks” yet? Surely by now I could have felt the metallic taste on my mouth.
But am I there yet? throughout July of 2014 – I still “don’t know”. I read all those “happy” stories again. Forums. Internet. Communities, you name it. Again and again. I thought – are all these effects, “good” effects – part of some sort of a process, a journey, or an undisclosed timeline of expectations yet unexplained?
Almost all of my similarly shared question/s of whether I am “there” or not – were apparently – still patience related. Still time related. Still not “long enough”. I grew increasingly tempted. Thereby increasing my training regime to new limits. Gruellingly to the bone.
One thing I couldnt get over though – was my new realisation – of hunger. I thought I knew what hunger felt like all along. But never this worse. How could I felt so hungry? I didn’t want to take more salt, because I fear this and that would happen to me.
“It’s just part of so called “adaptation” says one forum. “By this week X you should feel a lot better!” says another. “On the next morning on this x month you would feel so different!.” I continued to believe in them anyway for that “one” day to happen. I continued enduring for as long as I could – by investing more time waiting towards these more hopeful “hopes”.
July / August 2014 – Willpower 2.0 = The ambivalence, costs and pains.
Before I knew it – nearly two and half months have passed. Where’s that mental clarity? Where’s that feeling of rush and “urge to get up and go” I had earlier on during the first week? Where’s that sense of invincibility everyone seems to be on about?
I led myself to believe – “I am still not there yet.” I decided to “shift” or in other words – “reinvest” my hopes to tap to another elements of liveable reservoire. Surely I have to treat these things as a diversified portfolio investment right?
So what will it be? Willpower 2.0. This time – the mineral reserves on my existing joints, ligaments and tendons. Truth be told; as measures of sightful embarassments – led to my own total parades of public failures. My 10% over-weight bench presses in the gym, leg presses to heavy smith machine lunges – what the hell. My rotator cuffs, elbows, knees and joints – kept giving themselves out at a rate beyond me. Reps increasingly felt like “days” to finish. Sets felt like “weeks” needed for me to recuperate.
From CT scans to MRI’s. Nexium to Naltrexones.
I spent no other year as expensively as 2014 in realm of so called gathering “medical advices”. From multiple Xrays, CT scans and a three month long waiting MRI scan appointment. Three separate doctors. A chiropractor. And a rheumathoid specialist.
My chiropractor visits alone already mounted in the near $500s. That was just for a month and half. Yet I was in pain so much that there were times I could not even able to get in my car and drive properly. Even slight twist of my left leg on the clutch sends a quivering jolt of frostful, bite throughout my spine.
What’s next – what’s this pain in my chest I experienced at times? Those nocturnal extreme painful leg cramps waking me up at 3AM in the morning. EACH and every morning that is; each time – greeted me with my entire spine and back so painful akin from awakening ever so barely from a car accident; one night after another.
And that same old lingering problem – why do I find myself always hungry? I could eat more, but do I have enough money to survive the next week? The reserves continued to dry up.
Was I going to die? Surely there was something wrong with me. So convinced; I then proceed to spending multiple hundreds of dollars wasted from all the CT scans, more blood tests, X-rays and MRI scans and left all doctors confused. Sure, my cholesterol was through the roof, creatine kinase was up, my T3 was lowered, and test / androgen levels curiously was on a decline (this was actually have been declining before Keto).
I had a mild degeneration on several small discs on my hip – but I was informed that it’s “normal” for my age. I was at a risk for developing Ankylosing Spondylitis – for I have carried a defective gene (HLA-B27) all my life However inspite of that, such was reassuringly ruled out by a rheumatoid specialist.
I then – was prescribed numerous things.
From stomach acid suppressing Lyrica to Low Dose Naltrexone’s – all these pain comes and goes. I didn’t want to take Lyrica to treat my “chest pains”. Why on earth would I be willing to restrict stomach acid production if that helps me digest the food I’m eating? As IN ANYTHING I eat? And curiously (and suspiciously) besides – I was very skeptical into knowing why – that Lyrica remained to be the “best selling” drug ever (next to statin) in the world?
The LDN did provide me some elusive effects. Sleepy on one hour towards a need for a nap then felt a “rebound” afterwards. However, I felt overall strangely somewhat remaining fatigued on some days. But what happens if I were truly become dependent on LDN? What happens then to my existing opioid receptors? Will they erode themselves overtime?
One question leads to another’s expense. So much so that $300 down the drain for the Rx’s. And God knows what else I had to fix the neurosis I headed myself down into.
August 2014 – The “Quit”
Until things finally hit me for the sad conclusive ultimatum.Looking back at my lab / blood reports – if anything, I’d be surely and truly clinically dead by now from nutrient abuse. I could not even drive in my car for a day.
My creatine kinase numbers was actually close to a heart attack victim. Yet curiously – I’m still not dead, I was still breathing and still alive; if yet very hungry if so from having to fast for the test/s. Quite ravenously so.
Yet despite the above “resilient”, dead-horse curiosity – I resorted to act all the more conservative. So by the end of August 2014 / three months later – I had to call it quit. I’ve also decided to go off LDN. I immediately resorted back to the carbohydrates heavy diet and six / 7 meals a day regime. I immediately resorted back to my past, prior interpretation over what is “normal”. It was just too “difficult” for me to shift my physiological understanding to the Ketogenic regime to live on life as I would “normally” would; unchanged and unrevised.
Immediate relief. Over a matter of few weeks – I gained more or less the strength and vitality I lost; those same old “gains” of pride within me restored; staring at me in the mirror; day in and out of the gym.
….But also along with it – the same old feeling of life I previously and subconsciously – had to endure. From that paralysing upper back spasm and all the way to my helpless tendencies to “clench” my stomach within (yes again – crowded) public space – soon making a comeback all in itself.
Was I truly “happy”? Somewhat. But I remained dubious as to whether all these side effects of pertaining to the conventional “templated” way of eating would simply be “normal”. A new fear; albeit met with some sort of curiosity – began to surface.
July / 2015 – Enter Nutritional Humility
July of 2015 marked a quiet yet extremely significant, turning point of my sustenance and nutritional life. I decided to set aside a goal that led me to the creation and formation of this entire concept branding initiative to the screens in front of you.
Originated from a series of food-acceptances blog articles, a DIY self printed mini book, and then slowly to all things as they are currently today – a 250 page manuscript and a full featured website.
That chain of thought which permeated as my vision to preach food acceptances slowly developed as an early concept I termed to as Nutritional Humility. How should one “exercise” this quality; all from within as though it existed tangibly to his or her way of eating, living, training and most important of all – surviving?
Answering this requires a deep reflection of one’s own consciousness over any and all that a person does on his or her’s daily motions of living. Through willingly tracking your habitual eating patterns, hunger clocks, biological clocks and all the way to fitness and training lifestyle. Routines, and intensities. And also not forgetting too – one’s own external and social obligatory ecosystems.
So as I sat down and reflect on myself back on (the failed) Ketogenic living earnestly and having considered from all the above … I actually realised; shockingly so overtime – that I spent much less time preparing, indulged less on flavouring, and spent less time investing in traditional prepping, and cooking all my foods.
The relentlessly taxing hours upon hours spent in the kitchen. Filling it and the room with tupperwares and rice, potatoes and vegetables and meats – all just waiting to get cooked. The major differences as I mentally recalled inbetween carbohydrates low fat paradigm versus my brief venture to Standard Keto back then – grew all the more convincing.
Most important of which – I’ve actually spent less time worrying about eating food for flavour.
But rather – implicitly trying to appreciate its one and only simple purpose – to fulfil nutritional needs.
My Return to Ketosis
In August 2015, I’ve decided to revisit the Ketogenic regime. Once again to instigate my above curiosity – towards nutritional purpose of simplicity. In addition to this – all to incentivise myself to live ever more resilient within my own means. As my living and financial obligations remain increasingly difficult to fulfil.
Through this time by paying attention to the details. One thing at a time. Understanding how, and when I need to be nourished via consistent MICRO-nutrients; this in addition to my willingness to micro-assess all factors – from lifestyle habits to health and fitness training regiment changes (these will be as I expand on the second part of this Anniversary post).
I made a pledge to myself. To write these into daily account/s for as long as possible. My TextEdit program started it all with the file name “Keto Diary”. The first entry marked on 18th August, 2015.
Let’s start with the water that I HAVE to start drinking. Fibres from all vegetable sources? Ok, I’ll try to experiment more on some days and less on another and see how I felt. I’ll try to experiment to avoid and experiencing which sources are reportedly more glucogenic and which ones don’t. Types of fats? I’ll try for week at a time – experimenting more on one type and less on another. And the salt? Yes, I feared this would happen – but somehow – okay – I’ll try to get over it.
I continued on revising one micro-assesment at a time. Chickens for a week, see how that goes. Selenium from brazil nuts if I can afford them. Let’s also consider magnesium supplement. Then anti-oxidants as insurance policy – the extra multi-vitamins, the Coenzyme CQ10s, and liver health supplements. Given any available means of extra allowance – basic probiotics with FOS.
….and here we are – 13 Months Later, October 2016.
Fast forward from my former self then to now. How have all those details I became willingly to be concerned of; have brought me to conclude? The Ketogenic Diet has truly changed me to think beyond what I see as food not simply by way of indulgences. But by way of humble acceptances.
Thankfully and gladfully – the “pains”, the “car crashes” I experienced every morning gradually lessened. Chest pains remaining ever so controlled to the point of negligible. From many months prior leading to this day – I have finally understood – that within my subjective and objective interpretation – Ketosis – is not a way of adaptation. It’s a way of nutritive and physiological – Understanding.
Despite conscious weakness – it allows me to live resiliently through the more adverse, prolonged resource scarcities. The lowest I was able to spend on food to survive was as little as $15 per week; in one single transaction and in cash. This was made possible by me reserving, recycling and preserving as many supplies possible with the above established mindset after having assessed all the micro living factors and patterns.
Even despite I clearly am hungry at many times, there too; have also been many occassions I blindly ignored – that I felt more appreciative for the passing of time. I do feel as though I was hungry; quite genuinely so through time. But ironically for as long as I am occupied before I knew it – that much needed black-coffee time that was supposed to be at 11:AM somehow pushed itself back further and further – to 1:00PM. Sometimes 2:00PM. Sometimes even 3:00pm.
Likewise with meal times. Lunch was supposed to be give or take around 1:00PM. I was; paradoxically able to push back the hunger back to 4:00PM. Or even as late as all the way after my workout = at 7:30PM.
Back from downing BCAA slowly throughout the afternoon from 3 to 5PM, workout, back home at 6, post workout shake until the mealtime.Yes, that have been paradoxically at times – my LUNCH time were as late as 8:00PM. This was my next solid food after breakfast at 10:30AM. Then came “dinner” at 10:00PM and pre-bed protein at 11:30PM.
How could all these be possible? I absolutely have no facts to explain. But rather – only experiences and self-interpretations to support my claims.
I may very well have survived 13 months later.
From first having maintained strict SKD (standard variant Ketogenic Diet) for the first seven or so months without carbohydrates at all; to intermittently experimenting with CKD and TKD inbetween short, mid and long term window interval periods. I will expand more on these as my food for thoughts on the next part.
I am wholeheartedly convinced and thus have accepted that this “feeling” of Ketosis is not what everyone perceived and claim to be. I called it simply as part developing and embracing your own nutritional humility.
Simply or precariously betting all your wills on willpower WITHOUT making these very significant reassessment / revisions to your micro-patterns and physiology of life’s be it at home, the gym, or anywhere else – could only bring delirious, questionable effects to your overall health. I both implore and condone you not to repeat these same costly mistakes blindingly as I did back in 2014.
So has Ketogenic eating thus far as my first year fullfils my goal of objective improvement? Right now is still undecisive. I am weak, but not overly feeble. I am down, but not overly dire. I am uncertain, yet I am resilient of whatever I am facing at the present.
I do not claim to be some sort of insider nor am I a self-proclaimed nutritionist. Whatever the future trajectories may hold – I am certain for one thing – this way of eating subjectively nourishes me in ways that words perhaps can never quite explain succintly.