Everybody enters the new year with a resolution. For me, it is to quickly shed some fat around my love handles so my abs are more defined. I have never been able to do it, despite my 4 times per week work out. For many Asians, we are blessed with the gene that doesn’t get obscenely fat while chowing down infinite amount of rice, noodles, bao buns and any products of carbohydrates. It doesn’t mean that our body is healthy and able to produce a body of a modern goddess. So I figured if 70% of weight loss is diet and 30% is work out, I should just focus on a diet that can effectively do what I want. Hence, it starts with the keto diet.
Keto diet is a fancy name for the diet that includes mainly fat, some protein and fiber. Carbs, the traditional stomach filler, is reduced to less than 20gr per day. You might say “Pfft! 20 gr per day is easy, I dont eat rice or pasta anyway”. You’re wrong. I don’t eat rice but I eat apples. And in every average apple there is approximately 25gr of carbs. There goes out the window your “1 apple a day, keeps the doctors away” mantra. The whole diet works on the pretext that without carbs, your body will go into ketosis which forces it to burn fat as energy source rather than carbs. It was surprising to know that everything you thought to be healthy cannot be eaten in keto diet: beans, peas, milk, oatmeal, grains, juice, most fruits (that are not lime, lemon, raspberry) and the list goes on. You can eat lots of meat, cheese, leafy greens and hilariously bacon. If coffee is involved, no milk, no sugar but it is recommended to but some butter (Eww!)
That was the diet I was committed to for 7 days along with a dedicated abs work out that will “guarantee” a more defined abs line. I should mention that I’m in no way fat by any standard. I’m rather healthy with muscles and curves in the right places. Only that my abs is covered in a slightly thick level of fat (to my standard) that I wanted to try the diet. So I figured, I’m not gonna break down like an episode of The Biggest Loser because I’m not that size and my daily diet is already somewhat healthy. It’s gonna be a breeze!
Day 1: I’m all hyped up and excited for the new hot diet.
Shopping for grocery was fun. Having to work out which food is keto and which food is not, is a learning experience on its own. As anybody would have guessed, the most expensive thing in the supermarket normally is keto. I didn’t mind as everything was so fancy. After shopping, preparing keto breakfast, lunch, dinner makes me feel like a cosmopolitan who does yoga in the morning, follow a diet and looking fabulous.
This is not my first time committing to a trendy diet. 2 months ago I started on clean eating. It was 70% easy and 30% extremely mentally painful. Clean eating is just about eating food that is closest to its original state. So opt for fresh produced instead of pre-packed, boiled instead of deep fried, slow eating rather than rushed, and so on. It was easy for a Vietnamese like I am at least because fresh produce in Vietnam is abundant. Fresh vegetables are everywhere, in every dish. We like to eat things from the best place which means you need to go to the restaurant and eat it, so the chance of pre-packed food is limited. The thing that makes it difficult is the flavouring and snacking. Vietnamese snack variation is not your typical potatoes chips and chicken wings. It is boiled snails in aromatic lemongrass, various fruits in fermented sauce or chicken feet marinated in salty soury spicy sauce. Are all these snack “clean”? The marination makes the taste so without it, things become bland. A roasted chicken with some herbs, garlic is all tasty for a meal and heathy. Yet it cannot compare with the lip smacking taste of a good bowl of chicken feet in spicy lemongrass.
Day 2: I was pretty upset with the whole situation.
While Im following an abs exercise that burns my abs while giving such boost of endorphin, I’m still pretty annoyed the whole day. I can’t treat myself to nice things after exercising because keto. I had to eat 2 boiled eggs for breakfast and prep some snacks during the day including some kale, celery, cheese. Everything sounds healthy and all but it is just not satisfying. I have been enjoying eating vegetables so it is not about hating it. It is more about not being able to eat whatever I want. Looking at those leafy greens like looking at a photos in black and white. Good but dull. There is so many good breakfast dishes in Vietnam such as Pho bo, bun bo, banh cuon, xoi, etc and everything was amazing.
So day 2 was all about learning the rope at work. In many of the articles, they recommend preparing some snacks so you can eat every 2 hours in case you got hungry. Washing all those kale, celery, tomatoes was very fun. I was hyped up to a new week. Having a container looks even trendier because “environment”. At 10 am, I was happily eating my delicious garlic lemon butter sauce of kale and celery. It was a bit sour but tasty still.
As normally, company’s canteen has quite good food, I figure just eat the meat and vegetable and I’m good. It turned out they decided to do sweet and source pork that day. I was discouraged but hey, live and learn. I ate that and reminded myself to prepare food the next day. It was exciting to pull out my salad at 4pm when people was asking if I’m having a late lunch. “I’m on a keto diet!”.
At least afternoon and night was easier to handle as I get to cook food at home, not fearing hidden carbs. Still though, since I prepared bunch of vegetables, it is quite a lot having to go through it for afternoon snack and dinner. The whole day i was googling keto food or search term like “is tomato keto”, “is watermelon keto”, I might as well search “is god keto” during the whole hazy day of craving and hunger and distraction. Luckily I managed to learn 1 or 2 new dishes that are quite delicious and easy to do.
Day 3: The new breakfast excited me
I started the day again with the exercise and the new keto breakfast I learned, coconut milk with chia seeds. Surprisingly I felt calm and much better than Day 2. The prepared mid day snacks tastes much better with no severe cravings. No more imagination of the carrot is actually fried chips or cucumber is noodles. I passed through day 3 easily with the exception of lunch. While going out for lunch with careful selection of what to order, Im still having a nagging feeling that it still have carbs in it anyway since restaurants need that to taste. Dinner was delicious with a nice piece of steak with leeks. Yum!
Day 4: In retrospect, I didn’t know that this would be the start of depression streak.
Continuing with coconut milk chia pudding was my breakfast of choice. I felt great in the morning. I even can do the more difficult abs exercise without shaking too much. I felt my arms and shoulders stronger. Then I needed to prepare the snacks. Some green pepper, some cucumber and the secret weapon, some olive oil sprinkle just enough of the salty juice in. Probably one of my best mid day snacks.
As I was going to work, I started having dreaded feeling about all the traffic jam. I felt inherently annoyed but I didn’t know why. It is the nagging feeling of life doesn’t go my way. Everything at work annoys me just a little bit even though on a normal day, it wouldn’t be a problem. I attributed it for my soon to come PMS. As the day past, the little annoyance keeps growing. I had insane craving of food. Not a particular food but more like eating in general though I’m not hungry. I ordered some great food that ensure my diet is still intact. Yet the delivery guy was late and it added to the annoyance.
I had to focus intensely on the work itself to not be annoyed by the sound of human breathing, paper flipping, finger typing, people laughing. I knew nobody was doing anything annoying. It was my body feeling intensely annoyed on everything. I had to keep it together. Even at dinner when I get to cook whatever I want to, I still feel that life is unfair. I looked down to my belly thinking that all this work is pointless. My boyfriend wanted to order Indian food which I happily agree to after searching which food is keto in the menu. While eating Indian food was great, I immediately felt uneasy right after. I didn’t know why. So I tried to go to sleep.
Day 5: Depression continues.
I felt energised in the morning for the exercise. When it is time to eat, I can’t wait but make myself a delicious scramble egg breakfast. I kept thinking about food the whole day. Even feeling disappointed because the food at company’s canteen that day is vegan (cause it is the 15th of the lunar month). I almost broke down there crying while trying to order some other food. It was hugely a disappointment to know I can’t just eat the meat in the canteen and avoid the carbs.
The whole day passed by without me eating my kale + celery + cheese snack as the thought of it made me want to vomit. I felt disgusted with myself, with food and overall dissatisfaction with life. I started to hate kale and celery. I tried distracting myself with online shopping whenever the cravings and the depression hits hard. I kept researching on delicious keto food without any inspiration.
I gave up on cooking for dinner. While my boyfriend ordered a delicious carbonara, I was eating some boring chicken strip. IT WAS TASTELESS. But I doubt it was the restaurant’s fault. I just can’t taste anything while thinking about how unfair life was. On top of that, I accidentally know that McDonald’s recently roll out their limited edition Loop Fries which is available exclusively during Lunar New Year period. I was in dismay. I hid myself under the blanket trying to not thinking about it. I guessed I must have dreamt about the Loop Fries.
Day 6: I woke up feeling upset.
While going through the exercise I felt it was kinda easy. I was hurry to make a measurement, only to find out no change in number. I was disappointed to say the least. To be honest I’m not fat since the beginning. So logically to change anything, it wouldn’t look visible that quickly. It was still a bummer. In order to sooth myself, I wanted to eat some Pho Bo. Sure the flavour was great but I was determined to stick to keto so I eat the broth and meat but not the noodles. I think people should make a law to prevent anyone from doing it because it just sucks. I felt being robbed from my own culture. Life around me doesn’t feel so normal.
The whole day was just difficult to contain my depression and disappointment. I almost broke out in tears several times. Even I was upset about the little things with my boyfriend that i typically wouldn’t. It made me depressed all the time. I tried to make healthy version of chicken which I normally do. Somehow my skill wasn’t up to it and it was disgusting. My lovely boyfriend tried to save me from myself ,suggested we do a cheat meal to calm myself down. I worked. Loopy fries and chicken from McDonald’s.
Day 7: Release.
After sharing with my yoga instructor that I’m on my last day of keto, I felt great to know that it is very stressful for office people. The diet is not designed to fit the life of someone working 9 to 5 like me. IT WAS REVELATION! All the depression, all the disappointment and annoyance is the result of diet, not me changing into an intolerable human being. It was the kind of relief to know that your contraceptive pills cause your mood swing, not you turning into a demon. That was the permission I needed to go down and had my full bowl of Pho Bo, complete with noodles of course. Nobody has ever gotten fat from that.
After making sure my stomach was full, I came home to measure ceremoniously, expecting nothing spectacular, probably worse than before. Lo and behold, my lower abs was 2 cm less and waist was 1 cm less! I can specifically remember the day before nothing changed. So I remeasure a few times. It turned out yesterday I could have gotten it wrong the first try and the wrong result was sealed in my head. It was incredible! The dreaded keto diet works!
6 days of keto diet over, I can safely say I will never do this diet again. My friend knew someone who did it for a year to find out they have kidney stone. It is definitely a good diet to quickly shed some fat, suitable for people that are not office bound. It was intense mentally during the diet trying to keep myself rational.
This diet was also designed for American or Western diet and food availability. It was difficult to search if dragon fruit was keto or not. Buying strawberry alone was difficult in Vietnam, so raspberry was just impossible. I can’t have lime as a fruit snacks. If you want to eat healthy, try clean eating. It is easier and ingredients are easy to source. For now, I will make my fresh batch of cinnamon rolls to celebrate.