I’m really doing it this time. I’ve joined these forums for community and accountability and I’m really going to stick with it! I know I can do it and I’m convinced that this is the lifestyle I need to follow.
Sorry for the long post. I’m writing this out almost as a form of therapy and to help this get stuck in my mind: I can’t deviate, this time. My health and happiness and longevity depend on it.
I’m a 32 year old male, and I’ve always been a quote-unquote Big Guy: I’m just over 6’4”, have an 84” wingspan and a broad chest. I’ve never found it difficult at all to put on muscle, and I’ve always retained large amounts of muscle mass despite not lifting for prolonged periods of time. For context: I’ve been lean with veins across my abdomen at 265 lbs. At my absolute lightest as an adult I weighed 220 and looked maybe too thin, with what my friends jokingly called “corpse face.”
So, I’m just a Big Guy. And like many other low-carb adherents who’ve been driven to this way of eating, I’ve never found it difficult to put on fat very quickly, either; just looking at baked goods will force my body to start creating adipose tissue. At this very moment, I’ve got a bit of a paunch and weigh just north of 315. But my upper abdomen is solid, my legs and arms are well-developed, and I don’t look the way a person who weighs 315 “should” look. There’s simply too much of me right now, both muscle and fat. I want to be lighter, I want to be healthier, and I want to do what’s best for my mental health.
I’ve been interested in the ketogenic diet since about 2010, but as an athlete during my college years I was under the false assumption that all high-performance athletes needed carbs as a way to perform at their best.
And at that time in my life, I could honestly get away with eating pretty much whatever I wanted without too much issue. I was working out constantly, sometimes getting in three hour-long workouts a day (6am, noon, and 6pm) and just inhaling food like there was no tomorrow. I never tracked anything, I never thought much about anything besides focusing on high-protein foods and avoiding sugar and alcohol—except on weekends, that is. And I felt awful after carb-loading, but I always thought that had to do principally with how much food I was eating, rather than the nutrient composition of the foods.
Around the same time, I started falling into a heavy depression. I was under a lot of mental stress with my challenging coursework in college, I lost friends and family who were close to me in close succession, and I wasn’t happy with my relationships. I felt really alone, and I knew that sugar crashes just made me feel even worse. But I felt there was nothing I could do about it, so I just bit down and fought depression with sheer force of will—and that will only take you so far, no matter your innate resilience.
Someone told me they were going on keto in the summer of 2010, but after some lazy googling I came to the slapdash conclusion that it was a fad diet that wasn’t serious, and maybe could flat-out kill you. All that fat? Couldn’t be good for you. But carbs, whole grains, sugar? It’s fine. You need the glucose, after all! Your brain depends on it. All the “healthy” people I knew were vegans, and I even tried that for a few weeks, but I felt like my soul was being forcibly torn from my body and had to stop. It made my depression even worse and my precious muscle started to atrophy. It felt like I was literally exhaling all the strength I had left in my body. After a two-mile run, I almost collapsed. I went from deadlifting 600 pounds to barely being able to lift a bar with nothing else on it.
Very long story short: Since July of 2016 up to March of 2020, my weight has stayed around 275, though I was still a high-performing athlete in both lifting and running. But the pandemic completely ruined me. I have a very sedentary job as a writer, and I was just sitting at home all day working—and eating. And eating. And eating. And I ate my way all the way up to 355 pounds. Using caloric restriction, I was able to get a lot of success and get all the way back down to 300 or so, but I simply did not feel good. I used CICO as a way to cheat on unhealthy foods, to eat whatever I wanted as long as it fit my budget. And though I’m literally lighter, I don’t feel vital. I don’t feel strong. And I seem fatter, somehow. Where in the world were all those calories going? Straight to my fat cells, it seems—even though I was eating in a strict deficit, sometimes as much as 750 calories below my TDEE. And now I’m 315 again and wondering how it all got this way.
So much for the energy balance theory. Eat your shoe, Layne Norton.
Last year around this time, I went full-board with keto and was super consistent for 22 days.
And you know what?
I felt amazing.
I lost a ton of water weight in the first few days alone, though I don’t know how much because I wasn’t weighing—I was too afraid. I was fitting into clothing I refused to throw away because I had this distant belief that I was going to get down to my goal weight again, and it seemed like it was really working. Maybe, I thought, I would fit into stuff I haven’t been able to wear since my mid-twenties.
The plantar fasciitis that I suffered from even when I was a 3x-day workout beast with visible abs? Gone after 3 days. I went from barely being able to walk 900 steps a day to walking 24,000 after my third day on keto. I was walking everywhere, albeit with some nervousness that the pain might suddenly flare up again and I’d be in a strange part of town basically handicapped. But that never happened. I got home and couldn’t believe the number. 24,000 steps, it seemed like a glitch in my phone’s step tracker. But it wasn’t. The next day, I walked 18,000 and the only thing that stopped me from beating 24,000 was the 12-egg cheese omelet I couldn’t stop thinking about.
But I tricked myself into thinking that calorie tracking is the better way, the easier way, because it would enable more traditional social interactions and would make shopping easier. But as it turns out, I was just using sneaky logic so I could use my entire calorie budget to cheat on starchy foods.
Never again. I’m here, and I’m doing it!
Thanks for reading.