I can’t believe it’s been an entire year. It’s been a wild ride. The first few weeks were extremely tough, then I got sort of into a groove with losing weight. Then for a while I was kinda plateauing and not really losing too much weight. After that, there were challenges from moving and having to get used to the keto food situation here in Bend.
I was not perfect this year. I know I never will be. I had cheat meals, cheat days, off weeks. I’ve had periods of time where I just let laziness consume me and I didn’t work out or eat well at all. But after those periods, I still managed to somehow get back on the horse.
Before keto: 139.6 lbs
After 1 year of keto (Sept 14): 126 lbs* (down 13.6 lbs!)
*My lowest during the year was 122.2 lbs (down 17.4 lbs!)
BMI (Healthy range for BMI is 18.5–24.9)
Before keto: 26.4
After 1 year of keto (Sept 14): 23.8** (down 2.6!)
**My lowest during the year was 23.1 (down 3.3!)
At the end of one year, I may not be as thin as I was in high school, but I have 10x the confidence I did back then. It’s kinda ridiculous thinking back to my views on my own body back in high school; I had just a teeny tiny bit of extra fat on my stomach and arms, but I thought I was so overweight. Past Ashley had no idea how wrong she was. Everyone told her that her crappy way of eating would catch up to her but of course she never listened or believed them, because she was able to work most of it off during drill team practices. Past Ashley was a fool.
I’m no longer in the overweight range of BMI, but I do still have a little bit of a gut and some love handles. But despite those flaws, I’m still very happy with my body. I’m happy with the progress I made. Sure, I let myself get out of hand during and after college, but what matters most is that I fixed it.
Gaining this new confidence this past year has really helped get me back into cosplay. I’ve made 3 new cosplays in the past year! That may not be a lot to some other cosplayers out there, but I haven’t done that since about 2010. I made my Blake cosplay before keto in time for RTX 2015. Then I started keto and lost a ton of weight for PAX South 2016.
And making my Blake cosplay motivated me to make Wanda for Halloween 2015. And from there, I finally gained the confidence to attempt Korra again. And finally–and I still can’t believe I actually agreed to do it–I made what’s virtually an underwear cosplay for Sylveon! There was no way I would’ve felt comfortable enough in my skin to do it this time last year. Showing off just a little bit of stomach for Blake was already making me hit up the gym constantly to do core exercises.
Okay, we’re getting a little off track. This was supposed to be a keto update, but it’s quickly turned into a cosplay post (as I am want to do). So, let’s bring it back with some findings I’ve made during this year-long journey.
A Keto Lifestyle: The Pro’s and Con’s
There are pro’s and con’s to every diet/lifestyle. Keto is no exception. I’m not going to fool myself into thinking there are absolutely no downsides to it; I’m not naive. But I will say that the pro’s vastly outweigh (pun not intended) the con’s.
- Eating low carb high fat means being satiated and feeling full. I’m not constantly snacking because my latest meal is enough to hold me over until my next one.
- Being able to eat fat without guilt means I can enjoy the amazing flavors it brings out in food. (Absolute favorite is pot roast. Om nom nom.)
- Feeling full and less snacking means easily lowing caloric intake! Which of course leads to weight loss!
- This one isn’t mine but I wanted to include it because it’s very important to me: Jason gets fewer and less intense migraines while eating keto. We noticed that on days that he goes a little overboard with carbs, it’ll trigger a migraine. But once he’s back on track, he can go weeks or even months at a time without a migraine, when previously he was getting them almost every fortnight.
- Lower sugar intake means a more stable blood sugar level, so no more crazy spikes of it followed by crashing and feeling tired at 2pm on the dot every day. I noticed on days when I cheated (a bagel here, a chai tea there), I would feel drowsy almost instantly.
- Being conscious of what you’re putting into your body–regardless of what diet/lifestyle you are on–is better for you. Just being aware of what food you’re eating is a great start. So many times we just shove food into our mouths without thinking of the consequences. Eating keto has helped me be more mindful of my food choices. It’s also made putting certain foods down so much easier! I can look at a box of oreos and then turn it over to see the nutrition label, laugh at how ridiculous the carb count is, and put it down with ease. Before, I don’t think I even bothered to check cause the numbers didn’t really mean anything to me anyway.
- Saying no to soda is so much easier. I was a 1-2 can per day sort of soda drinker before, but now I’ve managed to go without it for over a year! And I’m never picking one up ever again.
- Eating out can be difficult in a world that loves to slap food onto carbs as its main source of delivery to your mouth (sandwiches, wraps, burgers, tacos, bagels, etc.).
- Cheat meals can be digestive hell. Like I said, I wasn’t perfect this year. I had cheat meals every once in a while; I’d be super lazy and grab a bagel for breakfast instead of being a good girl and making myself some eggs. That means I paid for it hours later in the bathroom. (Sorry TMI.) You would think that this would deter you from ever cheating but…
- It’s all too easy to slip back into old habits. That one cheat meal turns into a cheat day, and suddenly your body is back to being used to getting this many carbs. Your stomach isn’t in knots anymore, so you have less incentive to go back to keto.
- Say goodbye to your alcohol tolerance. Mine was already ridiculously low being a 5’1″ asian woman. If my alcohol tolerance was a 2 out of 100 before, it’s now at like a -20. I don’t know the science behind it, but I know that lots of ketoers will have lower alcohol tolerances than they had before. I know this is definitely the case for me. Half a glass of cider is enough to get my cheeks flushed. At least before it was a full glass. This may actually be more of a “pro” actually given how much money I can save not drinking. Matter of perspective really.
Conclusion & Tips for Keto Newbies
Overall, I’d say it was a great year. I’m glad Jason and I decided to give keto a shot for that one month long experiment. I’m glad we found it and I wish I had known about it sooner. Maybe I would have never gained all that weight in the first place. But hey, if I hadn’t gained it all, I wouldn’t have learned that I was capable of losing it all too, right?
“Better to have gained and lost than to never have gained before.”
Maybe? Probably not. Prevention is the best medicine so don’t follow that.
Tip #1. If you want to give keto a shot, give yourself a short deadline to start.
I would suggest a month because one week would be too short to really see the benefits. And if you decide to do it, STICK TO IT. You will not see the results if you cheat. You won’t be giving keto a fair shot if you don’t follow it the way it’s intended to be followed. You owe it to yourself to do it properly. Look at it as a sort of science experiment; you can’t properly draw any conclusions if your data points are full of poorly done tests.
Tip #2. Get rid of ALL your carby foods before you start.
Don’t put it off, do it NOW. Don’t think “Oh but I’ll just be wasting food.” Just take that as a financial and environmental reminder to not buy that food again cause you’ll just be wasting both your money and food. If you keep carby foods in your living space, the temptation will be too strong. This is where any laziness you may have will actually work to your benefit! If you have no carby snacks at home, the only way you’d be able to get them would be to actively go buy more. That requires effort. I don’t like effort. Guess I’ll just eat some pepperoni slices I’ve got here instead. Which brings me to my third tip.
Tip #3. Keep a stash of keto friendly snacks handy.
Snacking is a hard habit to break. Well, on keto, you’re allowed to snack! Just keep it within your macros and make sure it’s keto-friendly. Pepperoni slices? Good to go! Cheese strings? Have at it!
Tip #4. If you cheat, forgive yourself and move on.
Cheating is going to happen. I would say “You have the willpower to never ever cheat!” but the reality of it is, you may cheat. And that’s okay IF AND ONLY IF you resolve yourself to get back on the wagon immediately after. Don’t think “Oh hey the seal is broken! Might as well enjoy myself!” Just acknowledge that it happened and don’t let it happen again. Also, take the time to examine why it happened. Did you not have enough easily accessible keto food at home? Did you give in to a coworker’s offer of cinnamon rolls? (This was me last week.) Find the reasons and figure out ways to combat those situations. Make sure your fridge is properly stocked. Tell your coworker that you’re trying to watch your sugar intake. Acknowledge how childish peer pressure can be and don’t let what others think of you dictate how you live your life or eat your food. Become mindful of the cheat triggers so you can fight them off.
Tip #5. Know that some people may not understand.
There will be naysayers. There will be haters. There will be people that are like “oh god I could never give up pasta” and look at you like you grew a second head out of your neck. Let the comments slide right off you, just like the pounds and fat will slide right off you the more you stick to this lifestyle. Show them with your actions. Let your weight loss do the talking. Let your renewed energy and confidence have the last laugh. They are peasants. They don’t know you. They don’t know your body. Some of them will just be jealous of you taking charge of your own life. Crabs in a barrel. Let them judge. The only judgement that matters is yours. Own it. Be “that keto guy.” I’m completely okay with having keto be a part of my identity. It’s made me a happier, thinner, healthier person. You bet I’m gonna flaunt it!