Do you remember what it felt like to learn something new that you now do automatically, like brushing your teeth, tying your shoelaces, or playing your favorite instruments?
It’s easy to forget the initial struggles.
When I turned 15 years old and started learning how to drive, I was hell bent on learning to drive a stick shift.
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
On one of my first drives in my VW Jetta with my dad, I was backing out of the garage…and CRUNCH.
The passenger side mirror hit the side of the garage and my response was to keep going until it sheared right off.
I just sat there in silence, not sure what to say or do. My dad calmly told me to pull back into the garage. I parked the car, and we got into his car.
It would be another 6 months of stalling the engine and jerky “rodeo rides” that I was finally able to drive well enough to get myself to school.
Eventually, driving stick became second nature. Plus, I learned how to drive in San Francisco, so I had plenty of opportunities to test myself on the steepest hills.
One of the benefits of following this ketogenic way of eating is that it cuts out of a lot of the decision making so you can spend that decision-making energy on more important things.
It takes some effort in the beginning, but pretty soon it can become almost automatic.
Here are 3 hacks that have helped me stick to the keto challenge more than 90% of the time in the last 2 weeks to start forming a habit that lasts.
Have 2-3 Trusty Keto Meals that follow 70/20/10 Rule
70/20/10 = 70% Calories from Fat, 20% Calories from Protein, and 10% Calories from TOTAL Carbohydrate
One of the best ways to stick to a routine is to minimize how much you have to think about it.
My simple brain has trouble thinking of too many things at once. So, to push the odds in my favor, I have 2-3 trusty meals that I can default to if I get hungry.
Option 1 – Sardine Salad (82% fat, 18% protein, 0% carbs)
- 1 can Unsalted Sardines in Spring Water (Trader Joe’s)
- 2 oz. Mixed Organic Power Greens (about 2 handfuls)
- 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Himalayan Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
- Crystal Hot Sauce (Delicious!)
Option 2 – Mushroom and Egg Scramble over Mixed Greens (87% fat, 3% protein, 0% carbs)
- 3 large brown eggs (pasture-raised if possible)
- 3 Baby Bella Mushrooms (about 3 oz) – I will often substitute with zucchini or another vegetable
- 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 2 Tbsp Mild salsa
Option 3 – Coconut Milk Chia Pudding (76% fat, 7% protein, 17% carbs)
- 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
- 1 Tbsp Raw Almond Butter
- 1 cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- 9g Dried, Unseated Coconut Milk
- 3 Medium Strawberries (about 2.5 oz)
- 1 tsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 6g Cacao Nibs
You’ll notice that these aren’t exactly 70/20/10, but on a ketogenic diet, it tends to be better to err on the the side of more calories from fat. You can add more keto-friendly carbs (broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin seeds, almonds, etc.) as needed with minimal risk of breaking the 70/20/10 rule.
When Dining Out, follow the 2-Minute Restaurant Strategy Drill
Dining out can create some issues when you set dietary guidelines for yourself.
One way to deal with it is to do what I call the 2-Minute Restaurant Strategy Drill.
If you aren’t in charge of where you will be eating, take 2 minutes to go to the restaurant’s website and preview their menu.
You’re looking for low-carb options ahead of time.
If you’re going out for brunch, substitute the potatoes for a mixed green salad.
If you’re going to a Mexican restaurant, pass on the tortillas and rice.
If you’re having sushi, go for the sashimi instead of the rolls with a lot of rice.
You don’t have to be perfect, but you want to give yourself a chance to stay on track. You will be able to remove the stress and last minute pressure to possibly choose something that will undo the hard work you’ve put in.
This past weekend my willpower was put to the test. I went out Saturday night for dinner with some friends to a really well-known Hawaiian restaurant in Seattle, Ma’ono.
They have the freshest, fluffiest Hawaiian rolls I’ve ever tasted. It’s carb-lover heaven!
I hesitated for a moment reminding my self that I was doing a keto challenge. I looked at the roll. It looked at me.
One thing led to another and it was sitting there on my plate. I took of one bite. Then I had another bite with the home-churned butter.
Before you know it, I ate the entire roll and was on a carb-eating slippery slope, also indulging in the bacon fried rice.
I even ate a keto-friendly meal beforehand because dinner was late. I looked at the menu ahead of time and had a plan, but even then I got caught up in the moment.
However, I felt my energy dip and my focus was not as sharp for the next couple days. This was a reminder of why I was doing this in the first place…to have more energy, clarity, and focus.
Objectively, my testing showed that my ketone levels took a big drop. This was a bummer. I felt like I had undone the work I’d done the last couple weeks.
And that’s okay.
You won’t be perfect and there’s no use feeling sorry for yourself. Forgive yourself, learn from the experience, and get back on the horse.
Practicing non-attachment will liberate you from the unnecessary guilt and suffering that can sometimes come along with taking on a new challenge.
Just keep getting better one day at a time. That’s all you can control.
Keep it simple
Doing the Keto Challenge for the last 2 weeks have made my life easier in a lot of ways.
What I’ve found is that following simple guidelines, like the 70/20/10 Rule has given me a compass for navigating the way I eat.
Rotating a few meals throughout the week keeps things interesting enough while also preventing unnecessary agonizing that comes with trying to create a new habit.
For now, keep it simple. Follow the 70/20/10 rule and add the fancy stuff later.
What is one habit you are proud of creating for yourself? How did you stick to it? Let me know in the comments.