Strong Old Ladies

This week I got together with my friend Donna to make kimchi and discuss her “Keto Origin” story. Can I just pause here, before I even introduce her to say that I hope all of my future interviews flow the way this one did? What is better than talking story and making good food with a good friend? I was listening to the recording of our time together this morning and it really set the tone for the rest of my day. Feelings of joyousness abound.

Kimchi & Keto Nuggets

The kimchi turned out spicy and bright. It’s day three today- it’ll only get more funky and delicious with time.

Also featured here are my Keto Chicken Nuggets. They’re super easy to throw together. Even though the recipe states that it serves two, I typically eat the entire recipe. Often times a person following the Keto WOE eats more in a sitting, but those sittings occur less often. So there you have it.

Back to it. Donna and I met in 2009. We both managed separate but similarly missioned non-profit organizations in the community and she approached me to collaborate on some programming. Because that’s who Donna is. She’s a collaborator. Eventually neither of us worked in the same jobs or field any longer, but our friendship endured.

Donna D.

In early 2013, after much moaning from me about how unwell I was, how fat I was, how worried I was, Donna mentioned that she’d been doing some reading about an “Atkinsesque” way of eating that cut out carbohydrates and sugar- and increased healthy fats. It would be almost five years before I even took a serious look. But that’s another story altogether.

When I asked Donna about how she discovered a Keto diet, she took me back to her childhood. In a time when mass food production and processing was really getting it’s feet under it, Donna had a grandmother who was buying none of it.

“She used to drive a long way to get her hands on whole wheat flour to make her own bread, because it wasn’t a thing in the stores. You couldn’t find whole wheat or whole grain anything.”

She grew an organic vegetable garden and used copious amounts of butter.

This attitude led to whole generations of Donna’s family shirking the conventional wisdoms of the Standard American Diet (SAD), from a time when SAD wasn’t nearly as “sad” as it is now. Passed from her grandmother, to her mother, to her and finally her sons, the whole family embraced dietary principles like consuming healthy animal proteins and fats. Her youngest son stated regularly to his friends that, “margarine will give you a heart attack, but butter is good for your brain”.

That didn’t necessarily mean that there wasn’t metabolic illness in Donna’s family. Her grandmother, she and her sons were the only people in the family to escape Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, her sister died from complications of the disease at the age of 53. But when, in 2013, Donna’s doctor observed a weight gain of 28 pounds over the previous year and she was at her all-time heaviest weight of 238 pounds, she kind of already knew part of the answer that would turn her situation around.

Still, she talked to her sons, one a body builder and one who had recently shed some excess weight. They pointed her toward the Keto threads on Reddit.

At this point in the conversation, I start laughing out loud. Donna hanging out on Reddit with her sons is hilarious to me. “Hey”, she retorts. “That’s all there was then! Or at least all I could find”.

Through Reddit Donna found videos and a blog by Dr. Jason Fung. Dr. Fung is a Canadian kidney specialist who treats many patients’ metabolic illness with a low carb diet and fasting. His book, The Obesity Code was key in helping me fit all the pieces together. He’s also written The Complete Guide to Fasting in partnership with Jimmy Moore and more recently, The Diabetes Code. Dr. Fung also runs the Intensive Dietary Management Program, which is a medical program but the website also has a very informative blog, as well as a series of educational videos and stunning testimonials.

But Donna stumbled across Dr. Fung long before any of that, when he was making low budget YouTube videos with hand drawn whiteboard graphics- just trying to get the truth out there. She had a solid dietary philosophy as a foundation, coupled with a killer intuition, so she knew that what the good doctor was saying was in fact, the truth.

Donna adopted a Ketogenic way of eating during that time and to date, has lost 65 pounds! She admits that in more recent years, she’s occasionally slipped away from the WOE for a meal, or a day, or even a few weeks. But she hasn’t regained any of the originally lost weight and in fact, continues to drop a pound here and there. What does that mean? It means that Donna has spent the last seven years restoring her metabolic flexibility. Some folks get too far into sickness to ever experience a full restoration. But Donna has healed enough that her system can efficiently and effectively burn through the array of fuels available for human energy. And at the end of the day, she’s low carb for life.

“No woman is upset when she can shed some pounds”, Donna says. “But really I just wanted to feel healthy and move well.”

And she has achieved that. But she also told me that she’s recently begun doubling down on adherence to the way of eating. She’s interested in taking all of this to the next level and working on her fitness. Donna became a first time grandmother almost a year ago you see. And we both agree that the end goal is to be STRONG OLD LADIES.

*Know some awesome Ketonian you think I should interview and write a feature article about? Let me know through my Contact Page!