Meet Milena van Voorden. She shared with us her own journey on keto, which started almost two years ago (oh yes, keto can be a long-term lifestyle change), including what has changed in her life, how the keto community inspired her body positive journey and how she overcame the challenges - which had nothing to do with keto flu.
Hi Milena, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I always found that part very difficult! :) I think I am just a regular lady with a very big heart and a lot of attitude. A wife, cat mom, lecturer, gamer, traveller and a sports lover. I am full of contradictions. I play video games (mostly first-person shooters) but I dress and act girly. I speak to crowds for a living but I am very shy and awkward in person. I am originally from Poland but I married my best buddy and soul mate (whom I met playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - a shooter game ;)) seven years ago and I moved to the Netherlands nearly 3 years ago. I am absolutely in love with the Netherlands and the people here and I definitely intend to stay!
That’s an awesome love story!
And how long have you been on Keto?
I have been low-carb-ish since 2010, but I went "truly" keto on January 1st 2018. That means I'm getting close to being keto for 2 years!
How did you hear about it and what motivated you to start this woe?
9 years ago I lost 25kg after switching to a protein diet. Since then my diet was low- or moderate-carb. I had some carbs every now and then but generally avoided snacks, sweets, sugar and carbs. Two years ago my husband started reading about the keto lifestyle and he decided to try it. I joined in later, as I had noticed how good he felt after the change.
Do you follow a strict keto diet or not so strict?
On a daily basis, I follow strict keto. I try to get my fats from healthy whole foods and I try to stick to non-processed foods, but sometimes I have protein cookies too. Every once in a while, with very special occasions, my husband and I decide to cheat. It gives us a feeling of freedom - it feels like it's our decision and we are in control. It also reminds us why we went keto in the first place. ;)
What has changed for you since you’ve been on keto?
I definitely feel more focused and energized. I also never feel bloated or uncomfortable, which used to be a problem in the past. Before keto, I used to feel like I was regretting most meals, because of gut health. Keto also gives me the feeling that I don't need to give up on taste. It gives you so many options on what you can cook and how you can cook it, that it doesn't feel like a diet. In fact, I usually say that I'm following the keto lifestyle instead of "diet" because most people associate the word "diet" with a weight-loss plan. I chose keto for health and not for weight-loss.
Besides all the good stuff, have you experienced any challenges? How do you deal with it?
I definitely faced some challenges, however, a lot of them connected to social media and not the diet itself. The transfer to the keto lifestyle was very smooth for me. I never experienced the keto flu or feeling bad. It was also never difficult for me to say "no" to carbs and unhealthy foods. The challenges I faced (and probably still face now) were mostly connected to body positivity and progress. For a while, I focused a little too much on the scale numbers and the fact that they didn't move. It took a toll on my self-esteem and the way I saw myself. I started feeling like I am failing despite doing everything by the book (I'm talking a lot of physical activity, tracking macros and calories, checking ketone levels in the blood).
At some point, it felt like everybody was losing weight and I couldn’t. It took me some time, but at some point, I started reminding myself why I switched to keto in the first place. It was about health and mental focus and not about losing weight on the scale. At the same time, since I'd joined the lifestyle, I noticed a lot of progress in exercise, strength, endurance, performance and most of all - looks. This helped me rewire my thinking and focus on my performance and health instead of the number on the scale. One of my ways of dealing with these issues is clothes shopping (which can sometimes get out of hand...) and having pictures taken - these always put me in a good mood and remind me how different it was years ago, when I couldn't fit in or couldn't "pull off" some things.
From all that you’ve experienced, what is your favourite thing about it?
Definitely the mental focus and the physical feeling. I work as a lecturer and ever since I switched to this lifestyle, I haven't been experiencing tiredness, dips in energy, or feeling down. I also feel mentally calm - I noticed I rarely feel anxious, I don't have nightmares and I never feel depressed. From a physical perspective, I also see that it became easier to challenge myself in training. I've been seeing progress in both - cardio and weight exercises.
Is your husband still on Keto? (you look so cute together, btw!) A lot of people who struggle to have a partner who's not. How is it for you guys?
Thank you! <3 Yes, my husband is also on keto, it's very easy for us. I think it makes our lives easier because we support each other and also we don't have to explain our choices. I often find it difficult to explain why I eat certain things to those who aren't keto (the high-fat stigma known to most is still very common).
Oh yes. We hope to break this fat-stigma VERY soon!
I've seen many posts of you talking about body positivity. Can you tell us a bit of how this journey has been for you? Do you have any tips for other women out there who are struggling to show some love to their beautiful bodies?
Body positivity is a pretty touchy subject for me. Most of my life I had an image that every woman has to be very slim with long legs. For years I hated the fact that I could never achieve that no matter how hard I tried. Ironically, I find every different body type beautiful, so I can't really tell why I gave myself such a hard time for it. Ever since starting keto and joining the community I noticed that there are so many beautiful people out there and it doesn't matter how they are built or how they look. I found myself looking at pictures of girls twice my size and thinking they look absolutely fabulous. I slowly started embracing my natural shapes and I am actually coming to a point where I'm starting to feel happy about it. I also added exercise which makes me feel better not only physically but also mentally. I can't say that I'm fully there yet and I'm not sure I will ever be, but I think that I'm heading in the right direction. It also definitely helps that my husband absolutely adores every part of me and he makes sure I know it every minute of the day. ;)
If I had to come up with any advice I would tell everyone to be careful with social media. It can help when you see the diversity and how people are beautiful for many different reasons (and in different sizes), but it can also make people feel like they are not good enough (we all know these picture-perfect profiles which post only the best pictures). All in all, I think it's good to remind ourselves that we are all different and we are allowed to be different. This is what makes the world so interesting!
Amen! Too much the same is way too boring. And it’s so good to hear your experience with body positivity. I have the same feeling with social media - it can make or break you depending on what you constantly feed yourself with (I also wrote a blog about my personal body positive journey).
You always post what looks like delish foods. Do you have an all-time favourite Keto food? One you could just eat every day!
I am not sure if I have a favourite, I definitely love sweets and baking. I am absolutely in love with Keto Cacao as a snack and also added to cookies, muffins, cakes. I love keto brownies and there is a perfect peanut butter blondie I adore. I think keto pizza is also one of the things I absolutely love. Fathead dough for life! ;)
Yas! Keto pizza is life!
Now, out of curiosity: When do you love to enjoy KetoCacao? For dessert or as a snack? And what's your all-time favourite Keto Cacao flavour?
Usually for dessert. I used to be a big fan of the plain dark one, but now I fell in love with the white and coffee ones. I definitely love to take a bar with me to the movies - it's perfect! I really appreciate the low carb count. It makes me feel so happy when I can enjoy a chocolate bar and not worry about it adding too many grams of carbs to my day!
Oh, that’s so nice to hear! These new kids on the block are rocking it!
Thank you for your support and for sharing your keto journey with us.
And if you also want to share your journey with us, let us know in the comments below!