Even a normal, nonactive day can be exhausting for someone with Charcot Marie Tooth. I remember before my active lifestyle, I felt almost lethargic due to the sluggish feeling that comes along with having this disease. I told myself that this was only because of the disease, and I had no control over how I felt. This wasn’t true, obviously. I could improve my mental health and physical energy, but I had a crutch of a disease to blame it on. After discovering Keto, I have been pleasantly surprised by the results and how it has improved my energy, focus, and overall mood. In this post, I’m going to describe how Keto has improved my life.
Before Keto, I had a very rough time waking up in the morning. I had to set multiple alarms in hopes of getting up before 11 AM. This grogginess was something I chalked up to CMT like I did most everything else. It was the disease that was causing my fatigue and grogginess. At least, that’s what I figured.
When I started Keto, my mornings took a complete turn-around. The longer I was in ketosis, the metabolic state in which the body burns fat as the primary fuel source, the easier I found it to wake up in the morning. My body started producing energy so efficiently that I had to begin riding my bike every morning to avoid triggering my anxiety with the energy. So now that I’m fully keto-adapted, what do my mornings usually look like?
I wake up around 5 AM everyday, no matter if I have work, if it’s the weekend, or what day it is. The first thing I do is make a Bulletproof Coffee (BPC) with a serving of protein powder. This kick-starts ketosis for me. BPC gives me so much energy that when I first started doing this, it triggered panic attacks. I had to experiment and eventually found the ingredients that work for me: 7 oz water, 1 shot espresso, 1 tbsp grass-fed butter, 1 tsp MCT Oil. I’m happy to report that there haven’t been any panic attacks since correcting my BPC ingredients.
With all this energy flowing through me, I have to get rid of it somehow. Some people might not like all this energy, but I love it. This energy gives me more than a reason to exercise. It almost forces me to exercise. If I don’t, I feel anxious. Every morning I bike for at least two hours, four hours optimally. Again, this is yet another task that helps kick me into ketosis. The caffeine, healthy fat, and exercise all yell at my body to start burning fat immediately, and it does just that. This sets up my day for success. This gives me stable energy all the way until I go to bed.
I finish up biking around 7 AM – 9 AM. All this exercise and fat burning gets me hungry. I used to try to fast throughout the morning, but I found it too difficult when doing this much cardio. I just had to eat afterward. I’ve had a favorite breakfast for months now, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get tired of it. I just fry up uncured (nitrate-free) bacon, fry eggs in the bacon grease, and top the eggs with a whole, sliced avocado. This meal has lots of healthy fats, protein, and the avocado is rich in potassium and magnesium, vital nutrients after a workout. In addition to this meal I take supplements as well.
There are a lot of opinionated people out there that will tell you that you shouldn’t need nutrients if you’re eating properly. I agree that in a perfect world we would get all of our vital nutrients from the food we consume, but this isn’t a perfect world. Many of my nutrients come from my food, and I almost always hit my nutrient totals with my food alone, but I take supplements just to be absolutely sure that I meet my totals for every nutrient. I have ended up in the hospital many times due to panic attacks brought on from nutrient imbalances, and I intend not to do that anymore. These are the supplements I take every morning with a reason why:
- Vitamin D
- CMT patients tend to be vitamin D deficient, and I’m a nerd. Bad combination.
- Vitamin B12
- CMT patients tend to be vitamin B12 deficient, and taking B12 helps with my hand tremors.
- Fish Oil
- It’s nearly impossible to get the daily amount of Omega-3 fats unless you’re eating a lot of fish everyday.
- I’ve found it to be the most difficult electrolyte to get my total for the day.
By the time my morning is squared away, it is usually 10 AM or so. Don’t worry. I scheduled meetings during my bike ride, so don’t assume I wasn’t working! This is about the time my dog is bothering me to go outside. If my body is willing, I will take him for a two mile walk around the neighborhood to give him his exercise, as well as to give myself a little more. This is a good time to think and quiet my thoughts in preparation for all the typing I will soon be doing. I take him for at least two walks throughout the day, three if he is a lucky dog.
The middle of the day is sneaking up on me when I’m done with Gideon, my dog. It’s usually around 11 AM that I start my serious work. This is when I’m in hyper-focus mode due to ketosis, and I use that focus to build my business, write articles, write conference sessions, code, and anything else I’ve decided to be responsible for. I thought the heightened mental state of ketosis was just some mumbo-jumbo until I started taking advantage of it. No, I didn’t grow a third eye or become one with the universe, but it definitely improved my mental capabilities.
I usually have a late lunch. It’s around 2 PM before I start craving more food. I try to keep it light, only around 200 to 300 calories. My reason for this is that I think it forces my body to keep burning body fat instead of relying solely on the food I’ll be giving it. I keep it simple, too. I don’t have time for a complicated recipe in the middle of the day. This means it is either leftovers, more eggs and bacon, or 3-4 oz of lean meat with two cups of vegetables. Who said Keto had to be complicated?
I will do weight training depending on the day and before or after lunch depending on how I feel. I try to do weight training at least five days a week, resting on days that I fast and don’t consume any calories. For weights, I use dumbbells and kettlebells to do a full body workout over a one hour period. This post isn’t necessarily about how I train, so I’ll go into further detail in another post.
Dinner for me is basically whatever I had for lunch, but a little larger. I use this time to meal prep for the next few days or to empty the fridge of leftovers. I’ll pan sear a few meats, roast some vegetables, enough for a few days, and save the leftovers for the next few lunches and dinners. Sometimes I’ll make something like chili, a roast, a soup, or some other more complex recipe. Again, Keto doesn’t have to be complicated.
On a normal American diet, I would be dragging my feet and feeling exhausted come evening. Even as soon as 4 PM, I would be ready to lie down when I was stuffing myself full of carbohydrates and relying on them for energy. Now with the Keto diet, I feel fine in the evening. I can continue work, do a little more exercise, take my dog for a walk, all sorts of things that I couldn’t do before. It’s like I have another day within my day now! I feel like what I imagine normal, healthy people feel like, and it’s mostly because of my new diet and exercise routine.
After all this talk about energy, one might feel afraid that it would be difficult to go to sleep. It isn’t! I haven’t slept this well in a long time. Instead of needing naps throughout the day, I get good quality sleep every night. Without fail, I start to get tired around 9 PM and feel the need to wind down. I do just that. I usually meditate or read for the last hour that I’m awake. This helps enforce the feeling that it’s time to wind down. By the time 10 PM rolls around, I’m ready to sleep without issue.
There you have it. A peaceful conclusion to a day filled with energy, focus, productivity, and positive mental health. I used to think I would never feel this good, and now I’ve found out that it’s as easy as a healthy diet and daily exercise routine. Even with Charcot Marie Tooth, a person can lead a relatively healthy and normal lifestyle.