Although it’s related, my self-titled “Month of Deprivation” isn’t 100% tied to my overly ambitious 2018 goals. Not entirely.

See, I went a little balls to the wall over winter break. Being a partially-employed graduate student, I took full advantage of my winter vacation and left Riverside the day after classes ended. I planned an excursion involving roughly two weeks in Austin, two weeks of Raleigh, and thirty days of friends, food and fun.

Surprise unicorn birthday party? Check.

1/2 priced bottles of wine with friends for happy hour? Check.

Catching up on all my favorite Tex Mex food? Check.

Twelve bars of Christmas pub crawl? Check times 13, because we’re over achievers.

I missed everyone so much, that I didn’t want to skip a single outing. Every single evening I packed in some kind of friend or family or holiday event. I ate all the things. Drank more than I had the entire ten weeks previous (which wasn’t a small amount), and ran myself around ragged.

During my downtime (usually after a social event or a bout of day drinking), the only thing I could manage to do was watch cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix. Snuggled up in the bed where I was staying, I knocked down A Christmas Prince, A Christmas Inheritance, Christmas in the Smokey Mountains, The Christmas Ranch, all three Santa Clause movies (unlike wine, they do not improve with age), The Christmas Belle and more that I can’t remember. The reason I can’t simply pull up my Netflix history and tell you all of them, is that I was watching it on a random account hooked up to the TV in my friend’s apartment.

So Donna, whoever and wherever you are, I’m sorry your suggested titles are forever ruined. Or improved… you can thank me later.

Needless to say, after New Year’s rolled around I was ready to get back to my quiet little apartment and my little grad school routine. Somewhere between the upteenth bottle of Cabernet or the last of my New Year’s Eve weekend bottle of Lemon Deep Eddy Vodka, I decided to do a dry January. No alcohol of any kind until February 1st.

Then after talking to a friend in Austin who’s had great success with weight loss and lifestyle change, I decided to try a low carb/keto diet. My goal and hope was to find some kind of program where I wouldn’t have to calorie count, since that at first makes me obsessive about tracking and then over zealous with my eye-balling until I look at a giant sandwich and say, Oh surely that’s 4 oz of grilled chicken and 2 slices of bread! when really it’s a monstrosity of poultry and carbs.

Following keto, I had to kick all carbs and sugar off the table as well. It’s very strange for me to eat fatty foods like bacon and cheese and still be on a ‘diet’, and I legitimately had a dream about eating a bagel last night… but so far I haven’t cheated or even been close to cheating.

Yesterday I went to the bar after class with my MFA friends, and sipped on diet coke (I’m never giving up diet coke… they will have to pry a bottle from my cold dead hands) and hot tea while everyone else drank beer and nibbled on a large plate of fries. And yes, the fries smelled great but I had just as much fun sitting with them and depriving myself as I would have with a cider and starchy potato in my hand.

I’m curious what results I may see and feel when February 1st rolls around, but so far so good. Are you depriving yourself of anything for January, or am I alone in quitting all the things?

37 COMMENTS

  1. This is so cool! I’ve been doing keto for a few years now. It’s incredible how good I feel and how fast the weight falls off when I’m under 20g a day. Holler if you would like any recipe ideas or keto flu cures. 🙂

    • Oh that’s good to hear! I am struggling a little bit with the idea of eating fatty foods that I’ve always had to avoid whether I’m dieting or not. It feels very gluttonous to me? I worry I should be tracking everything, but tracking foods just kind of turns me into a crazy person so I’d rather not.

      • Tracking does help you get into a rhythm at first, but after that, I started doing “lazy keto” and just casually checked labels. It’s surprising what foods have a lot of carbs! I think the biggest things to remember are that fat in does not equal fat out/on your body, and make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes. My favorite electrolyte especially for the first couple of weeks is a mug of chicken broth with a little added “lite salt” which is half potassium. If you want a really good, supportive community, http://www.reddit.com/r/keto is my FAVORITE! Both for help and success stories. So excited for you 🙂 Keto was life changing for me!

  2. I did keto most of the year last year (I fell off the wagon a few times) and started all over again on the 3rd. I’m going for 30 days of less than 30 g of carbs. I love the diet, it’s generally very easy to maintain, just involves a lot of cooking and prep! I also have a lot of recipes if you need inspiration!

  3. Interested to hear how the keto diet works for you and if it changes what foods you like/crave. I’ve tried hard to consider my eating more of a lifestyle change and honestly even my cravings and food likes have changed over the last year and a half. I never ate salads, hated nuts, and loved everything chocolate. Now I enjoy a good salad, crave nuts, and have a weird obsession for all things oatmeal (oatmeal raisin cookies, oatmeal raisin granola bars, oatmeal for breakfast, really it’s kind of crazy).
    As far as calorie counting, I do still weigh and measure what I eat because I don’t trust myself. I have been considering some kind of change because I know I avoid some healthy fats just because they are higher calorie (for example, nuts and avocado). On the plus side I’ve gotten confident enough in my body’s reactions to foods that I usually do at least one evening a week where I just don’t track. I think the key for me has been to find something I could handle doing for the rest of my life without feeling deprived and still not have to do a ton of meal prep because I just don’t have a lot of free time. My mom has done a lot of up and down weight swings (think over 100 lbs) and it’s now much harder for her to lose or maintain weight so the fear of doing something unsustainable was really high for me. I hope you find something that works for you, diet is really the biggest piece of the puzzle and so individual!

    • I will certainly keep you posted! My friend swears she doesn’t crave the carby things anymore, but I’m skeptical when it comes to me. I’m a long time carb lover <3

      You're right, diet is so individual and also can be heated among people. Keto itself seems to be on the controversial side, but I have tried things in the past that were probably worse for me (prescribed appetite suppressants and 1,000 cal a day diet) and IMPOSSIBLE to maintain. Curious about this.

  4. I’ve been tracking my food for a year now, and I guess doing it by calorie, but focusing hardest on increasing protein relative to carbs. Keto-lite, I suppose?

    My big thing is spending. I’m working hard to rein that in and only get things I really *need*.

  5. I did a similar low-carb diet pre-wedding (the Dukan diet), and eventually lost 20lbs. In the beginning (the Attack phase where you basically channel a t-rex in terms of food options) I was so tired. Your keto diet sounds like a great option though and I’m glad you posted about it- even though I now want french fries BADLY.

  6. I know of some friends who have had a lot of success with keto! I’ve had a lot of success in the last year just listening to my body. And.. being alone. Since moving somewhere where I eat 99% of my meals alone, I don’t go out to eat or order pizza with my friends or go to Mexican for margs after work. It can be a little sad (and I wouldn’t recommend it as a diet strategy!) but it is what it is and it’s worked.
    My deprivation is shopping. OMG. STOP SHOPPING HOLLY. You have three closets of clothes and two dressers. STOP BUYING CLOTHES.

  7. When I’m with my friends and they all eat delicious things and I’m sitting their being sad about my salad I try to think like this: when I’m back home will I be disappointed in myself. Is a few minutes of mouth watering goodness worth the disappointment. That 30 second internal monologue gets me through a lot!

  8. This is going to sound weird and gross, but when my coworker did a keto diet, her breath was awful. I mean AWFUL. And since you’re in school all day, maybe keep some mints or something around until you know how it affects you? It doesn’t sound like anyone else that commented has that problem, so maybe it was just her? Just trying to look out for you 🙂 Meanwhile, I need to figure out how to lose the 10 lb of cookies and wine *I* gained. On top of the 40 I already needed to lose. Sigh.

  9. This is the first January in 3 years that I haven’t been doing Whole 30. The first time I did it (in like…April 2014 or something?), it really changed my relationship with food. I realized that I felt better when I ate fewer carbs, that I could eat vegetables to feel full, and that changing my diet was really important if I wanted to lose weight. Subsequent Whole 30s were less about changing my diet and more about curbing my insatiable desire to go out to eat. This year, I don’t have the time (or desire to do two loads of dishes a day) to plan and prepare to do another one; instead, I’m meticulously tracking my food intake and focusing on increasing my day-to-day activity level.

    Good luck with your month of deprivation! You can do it!

  10. My husband has been really into the Keto diet and also used Ketones. If you’ve never heard of the company, they’re basically drinks to have throughout the day that support your Keto diet and speed up ketogenesis. He swears by them.

    I am focusing on eating healthier, but what I’m “depriving” myself intentionally from are certain words. Specifically, I’m fasting from complaining, being critical of others, judging, and gossiping. Kind of out of the box as far as fasting goes, but equally healthy 🙂

  11. I decided to try eating low-carb in Nov after my cousin had a ton of success. I wasn’t very strict and didn’t lose a ton of weight, but it did completely cure my GI problems. When I saw my GI specialist in Dec, he now suspects I have Celiac disease. I am supposed to go for the blood test, but in order to do that I have to eat gluten for 2 weeks, which I am really reluctant to do because it makes me feel so terrible.

    So, I may not have lost a lot of weight, but I did significantly improve my health – win!

  12. My cousin lost SO MUCH weight on at Keto diet. He’s been off of it for years now but has kept the weight off by just being mindful and continuing to bike to work (he started biking in college). I’m not depriving myself of anything this January but I am making sure I stick to my gym routine even if its modified from time to time.

  13. good luck!! i haven’t tried anything specific to any one type of diet or another, but it sounds like you’ve got some great resources and recommendations! for me, knowing my own weaknesses and needs for sustainability in any dietary or lifestyle type change, i usually go in the direction of “substitution” vs “deprivation” (and i also have a little mantra that “what’s good for the waist is usually good for the wallet too!” to help with things like cooking in vs eating out). that might be a pretty individualized distinction tho. i also have had luck keeping a food journal. nothing over the top or uber sophisticated, but it’s crazy how much more thoughtful i am about things when i’m writing it all down!

  14. I’m depriving myself of cash, lol. Does that count?

    While I find low carb diets to be completely wrong for my body, I do try to cut down on sugar and alcohol consumption after overdoing things during the holidays. I find just watching that alone can help me shed excess weight. I’m really bad at cutting things out completely, though. So I’m more of a pro of “in moderation”. Like, only 3 drinks in a week and no more than one sugary treat in a day (Clif bars excluded). Otherwise I spend too much mental energy fighting sugar cravings or overthinking social situations.

  15. I tend to do a “reset” week or two weeks after a lot of travel and overindulging because otherwise I get in a habit and keep on trunking. Even if it’s bad news. I know next to nothing about Keto, so you’ll have to update what you think when you get through the month. 🙂

  16. I thought about trying such a diet but I cannot seem to cook and meal prep with the demanding schedule that is vet school. The best I can seem to do is pack my lunch for the day.

  17. Good for you! We should get together in Feb to celebrate..with or without drinks….
    I’m not giving anything up, and my only resolution/goal is to get stronger. Riding makes me stronger. Barre class makes my riding stronger.

  18. I am allergic to every grain except rice. I started out allergic to wheat only then the list grew. I found this out several years ago and for the most part I don’t crave bread or anything like that anymore but during real stressful times I do. I was a huge bread love so it’s been a tough adjustment. However, I did loose weight and I feel so much better having a healthier diet. Yes, it is weird thinking of fat as good for you but it’s definitely a good source of energy and feeling full. It’s also odd craving fat now….

  19. I’m not so much depriving as adding healthy habits like doing a plank a day, and doing a strength workout twice a week. I am also losing a bit of weight in a way that focuses on healthy eating but I feel like I get to eat so much good food that I don’t feel deprived! Last year I read Always Hungry by Dr. David Ludwig and that was a fascinating look at the science behind carbs, fats and protein and how our bodies use each macronutrient.

  20. I’ve been low carb / high protein for years now, and while my weight has gone up & down during that time, I have recognized how much better I feel when I lean into higher fats/proteins. I eat less, because fat/protein is more satisfying, and it sustains me longer. It’s especially good to eat this way if you are at risk for diabetes. And since I have multiple ancestors who were diabetic, I decided I should pay attention to that. Do not fear the FAT. It really is how we humans should eat. I’ve had multiple dieticians and endocrinologists tell me this.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t have cravings for french fries. (smirk!)

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