And for the next week I typically showed small amounts of ketosis success or light pink on the strip. The idea here was to get to a darker shade and stay in a state ketosis. Eagerly I anticipated this success. The claims being that I’d be burning fat for energy as my body adjusted, and that my brain function would be amazing and my workouts kicked into overdrive. Sweet--I was ready to experience Turbo Genie. Now, keep in mind that I also was starting to experience a build up of insomnia nights. I typically find myself experiencing insomnia every several days, par for the post 40 single mom course...but now--the nights were stacking up, all in a row. And that abdomen pain? Well, it kept coming on stronger and I started to Google all of my feared options: gallstones? Kidney stones? Exploding spleen? Appendectomy in my future? Until all signs pointed to that one dreaded one: constipation. For you see, I am a real regular gal in that department. And yeah, I’d noticed the frequency shift over the two weeks--but it made sense--no extra fiber and carbs, no extra visits to the bathroom.
I upped my veggies as most I could, increased water even more, even though I was drinking about a gallon more a day already than my usual. The test strips showed that I was indeed in full ketosis, and I read a bunch of concurring opinions that once you hit that point you could up your carbs to 50 or so and your body would stay there. This sounded like a good idea to me, for all of the uncomfortable reasons. In general I’d say I was just feeling overall yucky too. Consuming so much fat was fun at first--butter, yay! Extra mayo, yay! But over two weeks in I felt like puking when I sat down to my high fat breakfast in the morning. I grabbed some paleo granola that still fit into the macro count and alternated that with a shot of heavy whipping cream in it to offset the feeling, but still often felt like my stomach was up in my chest, ready to toss back the oily coating inside of me.
And my workouts now...ha! At least I could laugh at them at this point--my runs felt so sloggy, like every moment was mile 17 of a marathon. My lifts felt so weak--like most days I’d double check the barbell to make sure Shane hadn’t slipped the 45 pounder in there for fun. For the most part, my brain felt relatively normal--still no extra special super power feeling though. I was also now back at work after summer, which always is a tough shift and I feel extra tired when first turning teacher mode back on--but this overall tired and gross feeling kept hanging out with me.
I’d tried a bunch of recipes for keto baked things that involved substituted ingredients--the Swerve sweetener, which tastes like the fake sweetener it is. I’ve always detested the sickening chemical taste of those things. I’d tried using coconut flour recipes--some were decent, some tasted like wood shavings. The thing I always start to question in these nutritional situations is this: if you have to work so hard and be so inventive and use strange substitutes that may or may not be “healthier,” for you, it seems you are straying from the original purpose. For example, if you are vegetarian and eat tons of processed soy filler and products with fifteen chemicals in there--how can that be a better mission than eating clean, local meats and seafood? I don’t eat hot dogs, but I also don’t eat pretend hot dogs--they both don’t fall under the category of “real food,” for me. So I felt like this trend was happening in the keto world too--how to trick yourself into feeling like you were enjoying something that was a substitute for what you wish you were indulging in.
And my abdomen kept cramping. And I wasn’t sleeping--and managing the behavior of at-risk teens plus my own young children on days without much sleep is about as fun as a week of double-under workouts. And I knew that this wasn’t going to be my permanent lifestyle--I’d entertained the thought early on, that if this went well and I felt like a rock star, why not keep it up?
But I didn’t feel like a rock star. I didn’t feel like Turbo Genie. And I just didn’t feel very good. Labor day weekend came and I was faced with my fantasy football friends in town to draft and hang with as well as more friends staying with me. Tempting treats on every counter, lots of yummy carbs everywhere. And what actually broke me? A bowl of cantaloupe. I’d chopped it up for my kids and houseguests while fixing a big breakfast spread for all. And my brain cracked. I wolfed down oodles of fresh Hermiston melon, sweet and juicy. Was I really going to hit the end of summer and abstain from all of the amazing local produce available? No, no I was not.
And so, my pescaketo experiment came to an end a week early--three solid weeks, a week shy of my goal. And I’m not one who likes to give up on my own goals, but this one I forgave myself for very quickly, for when that night (the cantaloupe was not the sole culprit of my carb binge that day) came I slept so hard--the first solid sleep in weeks--I was out cold and woke up bright and shiny, like I’d crawled out of my hibernation cave. And that Monday was a hero wod at the box for Labor Day. It was crazy how quickly the carbs kicked in--I had limitless energy that day--deadlifts unbroken, joyful, bouncy box jumps and a that feeling of my body and brain syncing up to keep me in the moment and locked into the workout.
By no means does my conclusion need be advice for anyone else. I’m sure that many people are out there experiencing wonderful keto results.
Good for them. I applaud them. I wish them well. In fact I toast them with my margarita glass and I’d offer them some chips and salsa, but darn it, they can’t have them. So I guess I’ll keep them all for myself.
- Coach Genie Huntemann