Week 10: Making Permanent Changes Permanent

Any person who has ever failed on a diet will say that they do not work for the long term. Any person who has been successful at making changes for a significant time understands that the way forward is to use the 80/20 rule and make the important changes part of your permanent life routine. Personally, I know that that ketogenic diet is too dificult to fully implement into your life like a religion and maintain it to the letter without feeling like you have joined a cult. To never eat carbohydrates at any reasonable level or to only live in a heavy state of ketosis is difficult on the mind and soul, but the benefits of getting as close to the ideal while still balancing identity and practicality are undeniable for a person with PKD.

My approach to the Ren.Nu program has been with this focus in mind, and perhaps selfishly, I have used the program to guide my journey instead of becoming my journey. I am living my actual life to see what the stress fractures are with the program. I am going to a few restaurants, travelling to places without wifi, dealing with physical activity and jiujitsu training, and then seeing what the hard parts are of making things stick. In terms of being an exemplary member of the group, I probably suck. I have to watch most of the group sessions after the fact due to limited wifi in Europe and at a cottage on Prince Edward Island. I had a rough bout of Covid due to travel. I am dancing with maintaining low level ketosis while never really getting the heavy ketosis that other group members have realized. Still, I am not looking for the extreme ends; my kidneys are not in an extreme state, so I am more trying to reduce the load on them versus repairing them or keeping efgr from dropping to a state where dialysis is imminent. Eventually, I may end there, but that is not my personal focus for the program.

Instead, I am looking for all of the great, little steps that I can make permanent and that are easy to accept. The most important is to consistently reduce the level of sugars and carbohydrates in my every day life. Becoming truly mindful about sweets, starches and processed foods so that they become more of a condiment than the main serving is critical. I love breads, sweets, pastries, ice cream, chocolate bars, potatoes, pasta and rices. I accept that those can no longer be a part of my life. I might accept that I can eat a tiny amount once in a while, once in a week, but it always must remain mindful and measured. I can make that permanent.

Next is to pull in the dark greens with fat sources as my main source of sustenance. Kale, chard, arugula, herbs and the such, are key to feeling satisfied and they need to be dressed in healthy oils, butters, and vinegars. I do not enjoy this food group, but I can accept that they are what will keep my body feeling satiated and with the fibre to maintain digestive health. Moving away from carrots, rhutabaga, potatoes and beets as a vegetable source and into broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and the like has to be the path. Over time I have become accustomed to looking for salads, vegetable side options and raw vegetables at a restaurant when travelling (I seldom eat out when I am in Toronto).

Intermittant fasting in the 18:6 ratio a few times a week works for me. Switching protein sources from meats to fish, nuts and tofu works as a rule. Exercise has to consistent and somewhat strenuous for my health, though many other PKDers may find that overwhelming. Mindfulness and meditation keeps my brain from panic, and I usually listen to Sam Harris’ Waking Up app two nights a week before bed. Other times I will listen to Great Courses lectures on Audible to reset my mindframe; really, I just need to shift my focus away from what I fear or what is causing distress and unlike music-listening or yoga, I find I do best when my conscious mind is forcibly diverted from what it wants to ruminate upon.

What am I bad at, or what can I not totally commit to yet? I am not ready to fully give up a glass or two of wine when dining with friends. I am steadily reducing my intake, however, and veering away from carb-heavy beers or sweeter wines/cocktails. As I take Ramipiril these days for my blood pressure to reduce the load on my kidneys, I also notice that alcohol affects me in negative ways and hits me hard initially and afterwards. So alcohol is steadily being reduced more and more until it will become a more rare treat to savour. Coming from a French/Irish background, however, makes it difficult to totally remove from what I value as a true life. That is just me, and I get that.

Otherwise, I still have a few weeks left of the program and see the value it has had for me over the past three months. I have lost between 10 and 18 pounds (depending on how you measure it due to water retention) and feel far less inflamation. I still feel like my ideal weight is about 165 pounds, but these last 5 pounds are going to require slow, steady loss to make them permanent in a real way. The KetoCitra is a nice addition to my routine, but I am still not certain where exactly it fits into my daily life. The cost is still a little high for it to be a twice daily drink, and with the Ren.Nu program discount gone, I am not sure what I plan on doing about the medical food’s implementation. I have three containers left, so will continue to use and experiment with it post-program.

The KetoMojo meter is kind of fun and really useful for my metrics. I appreciate how it keeps me honest, and it is an easy to use tool that gives me usable feedback on ketosis. I will still need to procure strips from the USA through family over time, but maybe by the time I need more needles and strips they will deliver to Canada. Cronometer is great with the “gold” or whatever status the Ren.Nu program upgrades my app to, but I would probably revert back to MyPlate post program as I prefer their free version to Cronometer’s free version.

I have blood tests coming up soon, so we will see if there is any appreciable difference in the labs. I also have a schedule MRI mid-September, so that might give me and my nephrologist some new insights as well. In the end, I am more concerned about how I feel and look that the hard metrics at this stage. I mean it has only been 3 months…I am more interested in what this will do in a year or two, because that is how I prefer to perceive change. I have had a few challenges with flank pain this week, which has not been the case for most of the program. I might attribute that to the random after-effects of Covid, or that I consumed too much food while dining with my former university professor and friend at his house. I can, and have to accept that I am never going to be fully healed of PKD, but that has never been the focus of this program. My focus is to improve my life and final outcomes with PKD. If I had been seeking a “cure”, then perhaps I would feel great disappointment and futility by the end of the program. Maybe. I do not know. Instead, I am seeking what works for me at this particular stage in my disease and my life expectations. I feel pretty good about that part of my quest; looking for the holy grail can only lead to a journey that is perhaps misfounded in its aspirations. Seek what is possible, and along the way the impossible may find you.

2 thoughts on “Week 10: Making Permanent Changes Permanent

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  1. This is great! Was in their initial case study and trying best to stay in ketosis, IF, eat clean and afford keto citra. Great perspective for us pkd warriors- than you.

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