How It All Started
My health and wellness journey started in January of 2017 when I knew it was time for a change. Being uncomfortable in my own skin and unhappy with the way I looked and felt were triggers for me to find a way to turn my life around.
After realizing the typical, low calorie/ low fat diets never worked for me, I decided to research alternatives... that’s when I found the Ketogenic Diet.
Concentrating on a low carb, high fat approach, I was intrigued by this “backwards” way of thinking.
Having continued my research, I realized that this way of life may actually work for me. I researched a great deal in order to see what I could eat and focused on those rather than what I couldn’t eat. Having an Italian background, many meals consisted of heavy, starchy meals like pasta, pizza, bread, etc. At first, adjusting to a mainly whole foods approach was challenging because it was unfamiliar, but with patience and perseverance, I was determined to see change.
I started simple. I was not a chef by any means (trust me, ask my family)! It was basic chicken, ground beef, or steak with broccoli, cauliflower, salads, etc. to start. I didn’t complicate it. I would add cheese, butter or olive oil to the veggies and the few spices I had in my kitchen to the meat. I slowly grew my repertoire once I felt comfortable using MyFitnessPal to calculate macros in more advanced meals like stuffed chicken breast with sundried tomato and spinach and a side of creamy cauliflower mash… still one of my faves! With only altering my way of eating, I had lost 25 lbs within 4 months.
With my research, I learned about calculating macros and what my daily goals were. For my personal journey, I continue to track and log everything that I eat about 90% of the time. There are the odd vacations, weekends, or special occasions, where I don’t log every food item because I’m living in the moment. A great piece of advice I try to live by is “memories over macros”. I continue to strive for results, but remind myself that creating memories with friends and family are more important than if I’ve hit my protein goal for the day.
In addition to changing my eating habits, I started to work out approximately 4 months into my journey. Again, it was a slow progression. First, it was at home workouts and walks around my neighbourhood. Then it became going to the gym and walking on the treadmill or using the elliptical. Now, I feel confident lifting weights, running on the treadmill, or climbing up the never ending stair master! If someone would have told me 3 years ago that I would be going to the gym 5 times a week, I would’ve laughed. Before Keto, I didn’t have the energy to go to the gym. Now, I’m pushing out of my comfort zone and trying new physical activities like; indoor skydiving, SUP yoga, running 5km races and completing a half marathon hike! Once I redefined my eating habits, my energy was boosted and my mental clarity was unlike anything I’d experienced before. With a combination of Keto and workouts, I had reached my initial 50lbs weight loss goal within 7 months.
I know some people in the community who are like me and believe tracking works best for them. However, that is not to discredit those who feel best without tracking and are able to use intuitive eating successfully. I fully believe that everyone’s journey is unique and it is what makes this community the special “melting pot” that it is! The more diversity and inclusion we provide to a variety of journeys, the more we can learn about ourselves!
Speaking of inclusion, NEVER HAVE I EVER felt so a part of a community like I do with this one! I started my Instagram account @sugarfreebrie to hold myself accountable, but got so much more! The Keto community is unlike anything out there. Everyone is accepting and supportive no matter what stage you are at in your journey. A huge milestone moment for me was packing up and attending my first Toronto Keto Meet Up in October 2018, where I finally got to hug it out with all my internet friends. This is something I never would have done before Keto. I never would have driven 5 hours to visit complete strangers who are now like family. I would not have been able to continue this journey or fight through struggles the way I have without their unwavering support and motivation.
Although this journey started as a goal of physical change; the mental, emotional and psychological transformations that have taken place have been even more instrumental in my life than I could have imagined. Becoming more confident physically transferred into the way I spoke, the way I processed situations, and how I dealt with difficult scenarios. Keto has provided me with a newfound sense of self, in which I pride myself on authenticity, honesty, and open mindedness.
Five years into my way of life, I have lost and maintained an 80 lbs weight loss and gained confidence, happiness, and clarity in all facets of life. I will always strive for further results with creative recipes, sustain an active lifestyle, and living my everyday normal life while being fueled and empowered by those in this incredible Keto community.
Top 5 Switch Foods That Helped My Keto Journey!
1. Keto Chow - I love these on their own as a shake or incorporating them into baking (no bake cheesecake is my go to!)
2. Eve's Crackers - Still my favourite low carb, Keto friendly cracker ever! Love these for snack plates, in dip, or just on their own!
3. Good Dee's Mixes - I never felt like missing out on events with mixes like these! Cakes, breads, muffins, you name it... I baked it!
4. Muskoka Mornings - The answer to my protein prayers! I loved that I could add this to everything from a shake to baking to immediately add a significant amount of protein with only 1 tbsp! Also the PSMF Bread Recipe is a MUST!
5. Mr. Tortilla Wraps - These tortilla wraps have changed the game for me and my fiancé! We both loooove these for Taco Tuesday's or even with some Fatso peanut butter and Good Good jam.
BONUS: SweetMonk! I use this in my coffee every day and it's a clean option for sweeteners in baking too! A few drops go a long way!