My keto journey started on November 4, 2021. I remember the date clearly because I had gone on a carb binge the week before, wanting one last taste of those things I love before giving them up. Pizza, french fries, burritos, and I had to have my mom’s Tagliarini Casserole (recipe here)! Of course, it caused me to gain some weight, but I was confident my new lifestyle would help me shed those pounds pretty quickly. Maybe not the best way to start my journey to healthy living, but I was in this for the long haul and wanted to say “good bye” for now. I was provisionally accepted into the Kidney Transplant Program at Stanford University. I weighed in at 274 which put me RIGHT at 40.6 BMI and typically they only take patients with a BMI of 40 or lower – JUST right on the edge. But because I had been losing weight on my own and because it was SO close, they took a chance on me and I was placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) national transplant list. I had 38 pounds to lose. It sure seemed like a lot, but we had a plan.
Consulting with my doctor and my family, I decided I wouldn’t go full carnivore like my wife Cassie – that much dependence on protein could negatively affect my kidney health. But curbing carb consumption was going to be the key to my success. After all the articles my wife sent me about how the body turns carbs into sugar, about glucose intolerance, and about how prevalent sugar is in our food, I finally woke up to how much inadvertent damage I was doing to my body. Sure, I had cut back on my sugar consumption – but not really. When you consider the rice, bread, chips, and other foods I ate instead, it was the equivalent of eating four or five candy bars a day. Which is not to say you should ditch other carbs and eat candy bars all day. Wrong message.
It was really a matter of getting my body to work FOR me instead of AGAINST me. I wanted to find a way to eat happy AND healthy without feeling like I was eating like a mouse. You don’t know how often I’ve heard the idea of “calories in, calories out” as the key to losing weight. But what they don’t tell you is that the TYPE of calories matter far more than what they measure. Calories are simply a number. You and I both know that 2000 calories a day of meat and veggies is very different than 2000 calories of soda, candy, and cookies. Fiber, nutrients, complex carbs, saturated fats – they all play a part in keeping your body healthy. If you only care about “calories in, calories out” you can still gain weight and/or do harm to your body.
By focusing on a keto lifestyle, I’m taking away those excess sugars and giving my body a chance to really work on the stores of fat. And so far it’s working! As of today, I’m below 250 for the first time probably since college. I only have about 15 more pounds to go before I’m at the right BMI for a transplant. I feel great. I feel healthier than I have for a while. And it is SO nice to feel the weight dropping off. In about 3 months, I’ve been able to steadily lose about 25 pounds and its made a huge difference. I’m hoping it’s only 2-3 more months before hitting that goal! But if it takes a little longer, that’s okay. As long as I keep making steady progress and doing it in a healthy way. Next time I’ll talk more about exactly what I’ve been doing and where we are in the process.