Interview with Joanna Wilcox, chatting about EVERYTHING MACROS: how to calculate your macros, how to track your macros without losing track of the bigger picture, macro tracking at social events, and so much more.
This week on The Keto Diet Podcast, we’re embarking on a two part series all about macros! Part one of the series will focus on macro tracking, and next week, part two will focus on intuitive eating. Stay tuned!
It’s no secret that my version of keto doesn’t include tracking — I’ve found that I tend to focus too much on the numbers, and that I get more restrictive when I track. That being said, I never want this space to feel like a “members only” club strictly reserved for like-minded individuals. I’m shooting more for a keto rainbow made up of people who do their keto the way that suits them, and by honoring their individuality, they make the keto space a little bit brighter.
That’s what inspired part one of this two part series on macros — I wanted to speak with someone who tracks their macros, and enjoys it as a means of honoring themselves and their individual experience. Even though I know macro tracking doesn’t work for me, I’m happy to hear that today’s guest has had an awesome experience, one that has inspired so many others to try keto, track their macros, and embrace the journey.
In today’s podcast, I chat with our guest Joanna Wilcox, a wife, mom, working professional, keto inspiration, and fellow Canadian about how to track your keto macros without sweating the small stuff.
This episode is all about the benefits of macro tracking, how to calculate your keto macros, how to track without losing yourself in the process, and more.
Let’s get to the interview!
For podcast transcript, scroll down.
SHOW NOTES + LINKS
- Subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app
- ONE WEEK UNTIL CHRISTMAS! Get The Keto Holiday Cookbook now for only $10! 36 recipes, 4 menu options, and endless deliciousness — both holly AND jolly!
- More from Joanna Wilcox on her website, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook!
- Calculate your keto macros
- Check out MyFitnessPal for iOS and for Android
- Why tracking macros WORKS (18:15)
- What to do when you’re not eating enough (23:55)
- Macro counting at social events (37:16)
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TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE
Leanne Vogel: You’re listening to Episode Number 64 of the Keto Diet Podcast. Today, we’re chatting about why tracking macros works, what to do when you’re not eating enough, macro counting at social events and so much more. Stay tuned.
Hey, I’m Leanne from HealthfulPursuit.com, and this is The Keto Diet Podcast. Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet where we’re switching from a sugar-burning state to becoming fat-burning machines. Starting keto and maintaining it long-term can be quite a challenge if you don’t feel supported.
My 60-day program, The Keto Bundle, provides you with clear, step-by-step how-to on successfully adapting to a ketogenic diet, avoiding common ketogenic struggles, and healing your body completely and fully with a ketogenic diet. Go to HealthfulPursuit.com/bundle, and use the coupon code PODCAST all in caps, no spaces to get 10% off your order, exclusive for podcast listeners only. Now, let’s get this party started.
Hey, guys. Happy Sunday. The show notes and full transcript for today’s episode can be found at HealthfulPursuit.com/podcast/e64. The transcript is added to the post about three to five days following the initial air date of this episode. The show notes will include everything that we chat about today including the keto calculators and macro trackers that we mention. Let’s hear from one of our awesome partners.
Support for this podcast comes from Broya. I know Canadians always get left out of special podcast offers, but I have one for you and it involves bone broth – real, wholesome, quality-made bone broth. I’ve searched high and low for a Canadian bone broth product that I could feel good about sharing and I’ve finally found it.
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If you have an idea for a podcast episode or want to submit praise over and above the review, which you can leave by going to HealthfulPursuit.com/review, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those reviews are super important. They’re like gold for the podcast because when you submit a review, more people find the show, more people are helped by going keto and being awesome at keto and so, it’s a win/win.
I have one announcement today and it is a very important one because if you’ve been keto for maybe like three months, six months, less than a year, you haven’t experience the holiday season yet and you’re thinking like, “How am I going to do keto and also holidays together?” You’re probably thinking, “Maybe I can just do like a two-week break or I’m going to power through it and not eat any of the things.” Then you have major FOMO and you end up eating all the things and binging on all the Christmas stuff. It doesn’t need to be this way. That’s why last year when I was writing The Keto Diet and everything was totally crazy, I don’t even know how I did this, I also wrote a Keto Holiday Cookbook.
The Keto Holiday Cookbook is a digital download that has over 30 recipes from appies, starters, sides, entrees and desserts, plus four complete dinner party menus with shopping lists, including a dinner party menu for people that don’t do meat, so that you can totally, completely rock the holiday season whether you do meat or not, or if people eat low carb or if people don’t, you can come in with your recipes, maybe hand them out to some of your friends while they’re preparing things or you can bring some dishes out with you to social events. If you’re preparing food for people, you have a lot of options. People won’t even know they’re keto.
We did an entire Keto Holiday Christmas thing a couple of years ago using a lot of these recipes and everyone loved it. A lot of the recipes in the digital download are low FODMAP, nut, egg, and nightshade-free. Many of them have options in order to switch them out like that. It’s just the best thing. I’m so happy I created it. I used it last holiday season, I’m going to use it again this holiday and I hope that if you’re struggling with trying to figure out the whole keto holiday balance, that you head on over to HealthfulPursuit.com/ketoholiday. I’ll include the link in the show notes just so you can see what kind of program we put together in cookbook for all of the things holidays. Again, that’s HealthfulPursuit.com/ketoholiday, and it’s there for you if you require it.
Our guest today, her name is Joanna. She’s a wife and mother of two from Ontario, Canada, who has been following the ketogenic diet for 10 months. She shares her weight loss journey on Instagram under the username @ketoincanada. Joanna has received support online from other keto dieters helping her to lose over 55 pounds. She, so inspired by how a ketogenic diet has changed her life, Joanna wrote an eBook called, It’s Not Okay to Eat a Sandwich for Lunch, to help others starting out on their ketogenic journey. Joanna currently manages her own growing Instagram, YouTube channel, and Facebook page where she shares her keto product reviews, favorite recipes, and weekly weigh-ins.
The reason we wanted to have this episode is because we’re getting a lot of comments about the fact that because I do more of the intuitive eating piece and that I do not track, there’s a lot of people in our Healthful Pursuit community that feel shame around tracking. I wanted to have Joanna on to say there’s nothing shameful around tracking. If it’s working for you, great, and here’s some tips in order to have success with that.
This is part one of our series on macros, so next week we’ll be chatting with somebody who doesn’t track so you can see the pros and cons of both and decide what’s best for you. Just because you decide what’s best for you now doesn’t mean it will change later or vice versa. Whatever you want to do, the information is there for you.
Now, I want to include a trigger warning for people that get triggered with the words cheats or tracking or you’re trying to avoid macro tracking for whatever reason. If you have a history with disordered eating, I would just skip this episode and wait until next week or catch up on another episode you maybe missed from a couple weeks ago.
Without further ado, let’s cut over to this interview.
The Keto Diet Podcast, including show notes and links provides information in respect to healthy living, recipes, nutrition, and diet and is intended for informational purposes only. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor is it to be construed as such. We cannot guarantee that the information provided on The Keto Diet Podcast reflects the most up-to-date medical research. Information is provided without any representations or warranties of any kind. Please consult a qualified physician for medical advice and always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your health and nutrition program.
Hey, Joanna. How’s it going?
Joanna Wilcox: I’m great. How are you?
Leanne Vogel: I’m so good and right before we started recording, I said, “I’m just so happy to finally be talking to you in real life.”
Joanna Wilcox: Yes, you as well. I mean, like I said, I’ve been following you from the very beginning of my keto journey and you’ve provided me with a lot of inspiration and ideas, so it’s wonderful to chat with you today.
Leanne Vogel: Yes, and also thank you so much, and we’re both Canadians, so that’s a major win in my books.
Joanna Wilcox: Yes, that we are. Are you in Calgary right now?
Leanne Vogel: I’m not. I’m in Kelowna right now.
Joanna Wilcox: Oh, that’s good because it’s snowing in Calgary.
Leanne Vogel: I heard. My sister told me, but when this goes live in December, I think we’re going to be like in New Mexico area, which is going to be a lot warmer.
Joanna Wilcox: That’s wonderful. That’s where I’m originally from is Calgary.
Leanne Vogel: Oh, my gosh. Where are you based out of now?
Joanna Wilcox: I’m in, near London, Ontario.
Leanne Vogel: Okay. Cool. Representing Canada. I love it. For listeners that may not be familiar with your work, why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Joanna Wilcox: Sure. Hi everybody. My name’s Joanna and I’m a 33-year-old mother of two, I guess wife and mother of two, from Southwestern Ontario. I work full time in an industrial manufacturing industry, so we’re talking like 99% male in my workplace, and I could say that I have a lot on my plate at any given moment just with working full-time and being a full-time mom at the same time.
I’ve recently lost over 55 pounds with the ketogenic diet and have started my weight loss journey, actually I shared my weight loss journey from the very beginning on Instagram. When it comes to my weight, I’ve been struggling with it since I was … Going back to 12 years old, I had horrible eating habits and started emotionally eating as a young teenager. Maybe even earlier than that, but I’m 5’7″ right now, so when I graduated high school, I weighed 185 pounds.
I wasn’t really bullied a lot when I was growing up about my weight, but I definitely felt like a bit of an outsider. Comments were made sometimes. I managed to lose a lot of weight after graduating and by the time I was 21, I weighed just shy of 130 pounds. I have lost, I think that’s 55 pounds, pretty much from a lot of walking and eating low calories. As I was mentioning, I was from Calgary, so I took transit a lot and I had to walk back and forth from work and was busy in school. I was really excited to have lost all of that weight, which I was never, ever going to gain back. Right?
I moved across the country from Calgary, Alberta to Southwestern Ontario to be with my boyfriend, who’s now my husband, and I guess we got comfortable you could say. We always enjoyed eating out. It was our favorite past time and while maybe it actually still is, but over the next 10 years, I could actually pinpoint the events in my life that cause weight gain, such as renovating our condo, wedding planning and honeymoon overindulgences, I got pregnant for the first time and sadly it ended with a miscarriage, feeling undervalued at work, losing people close to us who had passed away. I mean, all of these events affected me and I would emotionally eat to fill the void. Food just made me feel better when I was stressed out. Add to the mix two pregnancies, like I have two children, and after 10 years not only had I surpassed 185 pounds that I weighed in high school, but I was now over 200 pounds. That’s sort of my back story of where I was late last year.
Leanne Vogel: How did you, from that space of losing the weight, then gaining the weight, how did you find keto and how did that come about?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, so I feel like I found keto in a very odd way. I always watch shows like The Biggest Loser on TV, and I knew that if I was ever going to get to the bottom of this emotional eating cycle that I was in that I really needed to resolve the reason why I was doing it in the first place. I mean, I had done Weight Watchers, I’d done Calories In, Calories Out, I tried following the Canada food guide. Every time I would have success, but then I would just sort of fall off the wagon, I guess, and I would end up gaining more weight.
In this quest to solve my emotional eating issues, I ended up finding an emotional eating counseling program locally in my town and started meeting with a woman there once a week. At the first meeting, I very clearly remember her saying to me, “I am not going to tell you what to eat,” which was great. I mean, I wasn’t there for nutritional advice. I was there for you to tell me how to stop eating when I was sad or when I was angry or when I felt lonely. I was there to hear more about how to curb the emotional eating.
That very same meeting, she said to me, “It doesn’t matter that you eat emotionally. It’s the food choices that you’re making that are the problem.” I was like, “Oh, my God.” Like, “Oh, dear God.” This was so frustrating because she just told me she wasn’t going to tell me what to eat. Right? I very clearly remember her saying to me, “Society tells you it’s okay to eat a sandwich for lunch. Joanna, it’s not okay to eat a sandwich for lunch.” We had a discussion about all the ways advertising and fast food make eating high carb food acceptable in our society and I mean, really you drive down the street and everywhere you look there’s like a Tim Horton’s or there’s … I mean, maybe not in the States, but there’s fast food joints everywhere. There’s burgers everywhere and it’s acceptable in our society to eat this way.
She mentioned to me that I needed to start eating extremely low carb. I believe she told me no more than 15 grams of carbs a day or something she told me. I was sent home with homework from this emotional eating counselor that said to track the food that I was eating and looking at the carb values in my food, I mean, I pretty much quit the exercise that day because there was like a yogurt I would eat for breakfast every day, I don’t know how many carbs are in it, 20 to 30 carbs probably. I was actually mad about it because here’s this lady who’s supposed to not be telling me what to eat, sending me home with food homework, and I was annoyed I was spending my money basically to learn these healthier habits and not to get nutritional advice from this counselor lady. I thought she was nuts and I thought she was crazy that she thought I would go to these extreme levels to lose weight.
This is when I actually started the Beach Body 21 Day Fix, while I was in this counseling program. I remember going back to her on my second or third session and being so proud that I had found this new program, that I was down for this 21 days, and I was going to lose the weight. I was going to use these little containers. The look on her face when I told her I was doing this was like of severe disappointment. She basically said that it wasn’t going to work, but good luck. I was so offended because how can she hate on someone trying to better their lives? She had told me like, “You need to be eating pepperoni sticks, not carbs,” yada, yada, yada. It didn’t work. She was right and I did end up gaining even more weight.
After that time period, I started Googling more information on low carb diets. I found the ketogenic diet, which I had never heard of before. I mean, and the lady didn’t even use the word keto to me. She just said low carb, but I would lurk in message boards, I would see the before and after pictures from other women. I actually remember one girl’s post in particular where she had lost 30 pounds in eight weeks. That pretty much pushed me over the edge because I had a trip to Vegas coming up and I was like, “I’ve got I think 12 weeks before Vegas, so if I could lose 30 pounds before I go away, that would be amazing.” If someone like me with a similar starting weight can lose 30 pounds in eight weeks, then so could I.
I basically woke up on a Thursday morning, which also happened to be December 1st, and I had no plan except to keep my net carbs as low as I could and that was over 300 days ago and 57 pounds ago.
Leanne Vogel: Wow, that is so cool. Did you ever deal with the emotional eating aspect? I know that you went to a coach to try to figure that out or did you find like that just kind of slowly started going away as you ate keto or what was that like?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, so I find that it has slowly just gone away because I’m not fighting that blood sugar issue anymore where it’s like my body’s craving stuff. I’m not really hungry, so while I wouldn’t say I don’t ever emotionally eat anymore because food is sort of my drug of choice I guess. I mean, when people have a bad day, some people drink, some people do drugs. I mean, food I guess could be the lesser of those, but …
Leanne Vogel: Way better than heroin. That’s what I always say.
Joanna Wilcox: Exactly. Right? I actually feel like I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone to the fridge because I was in a bad mood since starting keto. It’s amazing.
Leanne Vogel: That’s awesome.
Joanna Wilcox: Even not in the sad standpoint, but when I’m happy, too. I mean it used to be like we would eat for entertainment and eat to be happy. That doesn’t happen anymore. Food is not a priority.
Leanne Vogel: Congratulations. That’s awesome.
More of my interview with Joanna Wilcox after this message from one of our podcast partners.
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We’re having you on the show today to chat about tracking macros and next week we’re going to be chatting with somebody who doesn’t track. This week we’re chatting with you about why you’re on team tracking and macros. Let’s chat a little bit about your relationship with your macros and why you feel like tracking them works so well for you.
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah. I was a tracker in the past when I’ve done sort of the calories in, calories out stuff. I was quite familiar with using MyFitnessPal on that stuff. I found it really important for me to track; I didn’t want to waste any time and I feel like it’s the same thing if I go to the gym, I need to sort of know that I’m doing exactly what I need to do in order to reach the goals that I want. Some people might not be in a hurry to lose the weight, but I really wanted results like yesterday, so I find that in my life the things that are tracked or measured get done so at the end of the day I can say, “Yes, I stuck to my net carbs today, perfect, I got enough protein,” and these targets were important to me.
Another reason I track is because I don’t really feel hungry very often and it’s important that I’m getting enough calories. I don’t want them to say, “Well, you’re not being healthy,” or whatever. I mean, it’s really important for me to say, “Hey, I’m eating enough every day. I track what I eat. This weight loss is not coming because I’m depriving myself of food, it’s coming because I’m properly giving myself the calories that my body needs.” I’ve had some days where there were 800 calories and I made sure to get above 1,100 at least, no excuses. If I didn’t track, I think I would be under eating more than I would be overeating.
Leanne Vogel: What’s that experience like? Say, at the end of the day, you check out your tracking calculator and you’re like, “Oh, my gosh. I’m at 800 calories. I’m not hungry at all.” Do you force yourself to eat, and if so, what do you eat? Is that uncomfortable?
Joanna Wilcox: No, it’s totally not uncomfortable because I love eating. Because you’re definitely not at a place where you’re so full that the thought of eating something else is bad. It’s more of like, “Oh, this is awesome. My meals equated to this today and I still have, like I need to get more protein. I have lots of carb room left, so I can basically eat whatever I want,” which might be like almonds or it might be a cheese string and some pepperoni or I might sit down with some pork rinds and watch TV. I mean, I always tend to leave room for a snack at the end of the day because that’s when I enjoy eating.
Leanne Vogel: Hey, don’t we all? What happens if at the end of the day you’ve hit your allotment and you’re still hungry?
Joanna Wilcox: I don’t think that’s ever happened.
Leanne Vogel: Amazing.
Joanna Wilcox: If it did, I think I would just drink some water and move on. Yeah.
Leanne Vogel: Okay. A couple of questions that came in from our readers, and I’m definitely having to rely on them for this episode because I haven’t tracked in a really long time. Usually, my thing is like write down everything I eat and then a month later put it in a tracker so that I don’t have all the emotions that come up when I track. Some people don’t have that. I have it.
How did you originally calculate your macros? I know that there’s so much confusion around how to calculate macros. Should I be eating 5% carbs, 10% carbs, 15% protein, 10% protein, 20%? How do you calculate? Like, how did you originally calculate that?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, so I found a keto calculator just on Google that I decided to just go with and it took into account sort of my height, my weight, my age, what my body fat percentage was and how much of a deficit I wanted to be in. I could say like, yeah, I want to be in a 30% deficit, or I want to be in a 20% deficit, which is more calorie related and it does adjust your macros. Yes, so I found my … I calculated the macros with this calculator I found on Google and then I saved the information to my phone so I could reference it, but it gets committed to memory pretty fast. The way I follow it is not percentage based, so I’m not eating 5% carbs, it’s grams. I always had a target, when I first started my macros, it was 1,400 and some calories. It was 20 net carbs. I think 80 protein and 110 grams of fat. You just sort of commit that to your memory and that’s what my target is for the day.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, that’s what I did as well. It’s easier than saying, “I’m going to eat 5% carbs,” because …
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, that’s complicated.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, completely. Do you recalculate your macros every once in a while, or have they been the same forever?
Joanna Wilcox: Yes. This is going to sound ridiculous, but I haven’t really changed my macros. I weighed in this morning, I was 144 pounds and I’m using the same macros as when I entered my information in the calculator when I was 203 pounds. I’m not sure why, like I tried recalculating about a month ago because my weight loss has really slowed down a bit, but I pretty much revert back to the original numbers every day and I do have days where my calories are less. They might be 1,200, but I mean, I allow myself to go to that 1,400 calories if I do feel like eating. It is possible that just my original deficit was so high that I’m still in a deficit at these numbers now, if that makes sense, which might explain why I’m still dropping the weight. Like, when I first ran the numbers, it might have been a 30% deficit. I’m still maybe at a 10% deficit now, so it’s like I’m still eating under maintenance calories at those numbers.
Leanne Vogel: Okay. We chatted about how you have a specific amount of, you know, you said protein 80%, net carbs 20 grams of net carbs. How do you make sure that you are actually eating that? Do you have an app that you use where you plug in like I had a thing of celery and some peanut butter? How do you know how many grams you’ve eaten come the end of the day?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah. From day one, I’ve always used the free version of MyFitnessPal to track. I find it has a huge catalog of food and it’s really simple to use. One thing I focus on is having balanced macros at the end of each day. I think sometimes people over complicate tracking where they think that each meal needs to have this right balance of carbs, fat, and protein. I just aim for the whole day to look good, which is easy when you can use like a snack to get more fat or protein at the end of the day when you take an overall look. After you’ve eaten dinner and you look at what you have left in your macros to hit, then you can say like, “Oh, okay. I need to up my fat. It’s been a really low-fat day,” or “I need to get more protein because I haven’t hit my protein goal.” I do weigh all of my food, too, which is I think important for people to know. When I am at home and have the ability to do so, I measure everything out with a scale.
Leanne Vogel: Isn’t that a lot of work? Do you find like that’s a lot of work?
Joanna Wilcox: No, because generally it’s like, I just use the plate I’m eating off of. If I’m going to eat almonds, then I just tare the plate and I dump some almonds on until it says I’ve had a serving. Then, if I want to throw some Moon Cheese on there, I’ll just set it back to zero and dump the Moon Cheese on. I think it’s more of a head game for myself. Like, if I was to just dump a bunch of almonds on there, I would probably give myself like a double serving because I just love them and I would say, “Yeah, that looks like about 28 grams or whatever.”
Leanne Vogel: Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative). Say you’re making, I don’t know, chili for your family. How do you know how much of that big batch to give yourself?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, so MyFitnessPal is really awesome and then it has like a recipe creator. I can actually add the exact amount of what I’m adding into this larger recipe. Then, it gives you a serving amount. They’ll say like what, this is four servings for this total recipe, so I know that the whole, let’s say the whole chili is 2,000 calories, and that one quarter of it is 500 calories. Then, like the macros that come with that, the protein, the fat, the carbs, but I mean, I’m not going to obsess to the point that I can’t eat what appears to be one fourth of that dish.
Leanne Vogel: That was my next question. Do you weigh the whole recipe and then divide it by four?
Joanna Wilcox: No.
Leanne Vogel: Like, what are we talking here?
Joanna Wilcox: No, no. I mean, that’s a little obsessive and crazy. I think, like, if I’m a little off, I’m not overly concerned. It all comes out in the wash. If you were to do that three days in a row, chances are one day you’re probably going to take less than what would have been a quarter. The next day it might be a little bit more, but I think at the end of the day, it all balances out. Tracking is good, but you don’t need to be … Like, you’re doing your best at all times. I mean, I can’t be like, “Oh, that was two grams off, I’m going to have a heart attack,” or like, pull my hair out.
Leanne Vogel: It’s really cool that you can do that. When I tracked, it was sort of like if it’s not the best of the best and I weigh it down to the gram, this is silly and I’m not doing it. I think if you’re that type of person, like that type A, obsessive, compulsive individual, tracking will probably never work for you, but it sounds like you have a pretty good relationship with it. You’re like, “Yeah, I’m going to weigh it and that’s what it is and that’s how it’s going to be.”
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, I think it’s …
Leanne Vogel: It’s amazing.
Joanna Wilcox: … more of just like I have a lot of grace with myself in that I’m doing … I always say that I’m doing my best and I think it’s that consistency if you’re tracking and doing your best at tracking every day. Like, I do that with the measuring and just not eyeballing what I think is a handful or grabbing a handful of nuts and saying, “Oh, that’s got to be half of a serving,” or whatever. I try my best just to take that two seconds to take the time to know exactly what I’m consuming and just put it in my phone. Yeah, if it’s not perfect … People always say or you go out to restaurants, like how do you know exactly what those wings were? It’s like, well, I looked at the nutritional values. It’s telling me it’s this much or that chicken sandwich without the bun is this much and that’s what Wendy’s tells me it is, so I’m just going to go with that. To me, that’s tracking and to someone else, that might be not obsessive enough or not strict enough, but I mean, it’s working for me, so I’m happy.
Leanne Vogel: That’s awesome. Half the battle is just finding something that works for you.
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah.
Leanne Vogel: Sometimes you can’t put it into words. You’re like, it’s just working, so I’m not going to mess around with it.
Joanna Wilcox: For sure.
Leanne Vogel: For restaurant ordering, so say you were at a, I don’t know, maybe a little boutique type of restaurant where they don’t have those sort of nutrition things. What do you do then?
Joanna Wilcox: When I’m in that type of situation, I kind of just go back to my own brain and think to myself, “Okay, what on this menu is going to be keto-friendly?” Chances are it’s not a lot. I mean, in those situations I often default to like Caesar salad with grilled chicken with no croutons because when you get in a place where you don’t know how they’re preparing things, I would always just choose the safe route. If nothing there seems safe, I would choose another restaurant. If I couldn’t choose another restaurant, I’d probably just wouldn’t eat, which sounds really bad, but I mean if I can’t have a conversation there with the waiter and say, “Okay, can I just get a chicken breast and a side of broccoli and some butter,” you know, I mean I think you can always … I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve sat and watched other people eat.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, neither have I. I mean, my default is always some sort of burger. There’s always a burger on the menu.
Joanna Wilcox: Yes, burgers, side Caesar.
Leanne Vogel: I’m so sick of burgers, but if it needs to happen, it will happen.
Joanna Wilcox: You know what’s so funny is like I never or even in my life had a fast food burger before I became keto.
Leanne Vogel: That’s crazy.
Joanna Wilcox: Like, hamburger and I think it’s because my mom’s hamburgers were always really gross, so I just like never really liked hamburgers in general. Even now that I’ve tried them on keto, I’ve probably only had three or four burgers in 10 months.
Leanne Vogel: That’s insane. Yeah, we don’t do a lot of fast food, but we, especially when we were on the book tour, there’s just so many burgers. It’s always an option. You don’t have to go without eating, it’s just, if you’re eating out all the time, burgers will become your …
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, and then I mean, when you’re in that boutique restaurant and you’re like ordering that Caesar salad and they don’t have the nutritional information, again, it goes down to do your best. Find a salad that you had that you think is comparable and put it in and move on with your life.
Leanne Vogel: Completely. Would you say that you feel pretty connected to your body doing this or do you feel like you have to tell your body what to do in order to be healthier because you don’t trust your body? Kind of what’s your relationship with your body?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, so I’ve had times where I thought, “Okay, like I don’t really feel like I need to eat this right now.” We’ve had that, sort of early in the conversation where it’s like do you feel like you’re forcing yourself to eat? I do have moments where it’s like, you know what? Like, the tracker, I need to eat the food, but my body’s saying you really don’t need it. There is some of that back and forth where you’re like, “I’m content, but I can’t complete MyFitnessPal until I’ve eaten enough calories today. I have a lot of people that follow me on Instagram and who are following me on MyFitnessPal, so they look at my journal every day. That’s always in my mind as well is that people are going to look back at that or now they can’t see it because I under ate that day, which is fine if I was fasting and I had a planned fast and I just wasn’t eating that day.
Yeah, I find I kind of get to this point where I’m like, once I get to my goal weight, which is very, very close, eight, nine pounds away, could I just stop tracking and just trust my body at this point? I do think that that’s possible, I’m just sort of going to have to tread water in that space to see, but I’m not really worried about it. I find that tracking got me here, so tracking might keep me here. I don’t want to go back to where I was.
Leanne Vogel: It’s so interesting. You know, a couple of years ago, I don’t know if I would be able to be open to this conversation because I thought at that point, like, tracking is evil, don’t do it, nobody should do it, but it’s so interesting to speak to somebody that seems to have just like a normal relationship with tracking. I’m learning a lot from you so thank you very much.
Joanna Wilcox: Oh, good. Yeah, I don’t think it should be, like I think with anything in life, anything can go to an extreme. I guess the way I track is just with a little more grace to myself and it doesn’t need to be, I guess just so precise and so exact. You can do it casually, I guess. I do track, I track every single day, but I don’t … Yeah, I don’t have this awkward relationship with it. It’s just another tool that I use for my weight loss.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, you see it as a tool. That’s really cool and I think something, you know, especially in the Healthful Pursuit/Keto Diet Podcast community, because I talk so much about not tracking, listening to your body, being intuitive, a lot of people who do track have started to feel like shameful that they’re tracking. That’s why I really wanted to have you on the show. To be like, “Hey, there’s nothing bad with tracking, but especially if you have a healthy relationship with it and you’re just using it as a tool, that’s really cool.” Although, it could get out of hand for certain individuals. I think it’s really great that we’re having this conversation and that people listening that are tracking don’t need to feel shame around their tracking. If it’s working for you, great, keep doing it, because that’s what we said is like that’s half the battle is finding something that actually works.
Joanna Wilcox: Of course. Yeah.
Leanne Vogel: Now, you mentioned fasting. Do you track your fasting windows or do you just kind of like fast and then you know if you didn’t eat that morning on your little tracker that you weren’t eating that morning or eating?
Joanna Wilcox: Yes, so I do practice intermittent fasting. I have since January 1st basically almost every day. I don’t track my fasting windows and I don’t track that because generally my fasting protocol is I just don’t eat breakfast. This would be 99% of the time. I did eat something today. I probably could count on my hands how many times I’ve had breakfast, and that would be more of about intuitive, listening to my body, type thing. Like, if I’m feeling lightheaded or I feel like I really need to eat something I will eat, but I’m generally done eating by around 8:00 at night. That makes it about a 16-hour fast window when I do go to eat lunch the next day, so I don’t find it necessary to track.
If I eat something at 9:00 or 10:00 at night, I’m not going to bump my lunch hour back two hours just to make sure I hit the 16 hours of fasting. I just think that’s a bit too rigid. Most days I’m 16 hours fasted and if I’m not, I’m not. I mean, again, with intermittent fasting, it’s not something that people have to do every day. Again, it’s just another tool to help you with your weight loss.
Leanne Vogel: Yes, when I realized that fasting was a tool and not this thing that I had to do every day or my life was going to be over, it became a lot easier. Now, I would say I probably fast most of the time. It’s very rare that I actually have a breakfast, but when I had that relationship before, where it’s like I have to fast every day, it was so obsessive and unnecessary. Like, I’m doing it right now, but I’m not even thinking about it.
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, I haven’t even had lunch yet and it’s 1:30 here, … but I find, too, that with fasting it’s often because I have two young kids. I get them ready and out the door and I don’t have to worry about feeding myself at the same time and I’m not hungry anyways. Then, yeah, I was going to go somewhere with that, but I can’t remember where.
Leanne Vogel: It’s all good. More MCT oil in your coffee tomorrow.
More of my interview with Joanna Wilcox after this message from one of our podcast partners.
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We chatted a little bit about restaurant ordering and something I forgot to touch on is social events. What do you do when you’re like at a family barbecue or a dinner? Is it awkward to ask people what’s in the dish so that you can try to calculate it in your head? Do you calculate it in your head? How do you manage that?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, so, my husband also does keto. He’s lost over 50 pounds now as well since the end of December. We’re both fully invested in what we’re doing and we have dinner parties, like we’re part of a supper club where every month we go to a different person’s house for supper. They all know that we’re keto, but we showed up, like I’ve legit gone out and got Pita Pit salad and we’ve eaten them while the other couples eat the dinner that has been prepared. It’s a little awkward at first because, you know, they’ll say, “Well, just eat what we’re eating,” or, “You don’t need to do that,” but sticking to keto and losing the weight was a priority for myself and for my husband. We’re willing to bring our own food if we have to. We’ll always ask, “What are you making?” We’ve had one of the couples made like Greek food, so there was chicken skewers and tzatziki sauce and an awesome salad, but they also had their bread and their couscous, or whatever, was on the side. We were able to fit in there and they were thoughtful enough to make choices. Even one of the couples made like a special, like a zucchini lasagna for us instead of the pasta dish that she had made for everybody else.
We’ve been kind of lucky that the people we socialize with are considerate of our dietary requirements right now, but yeah, we’ve had a big block party and actually … Well, the girl who made the special lasagna, she sent me the recipe she used, so I knew what went into it and I was able to just log it that way. We had a big block party about a month ago on my street and I had to look at what type of burger they were cooking and there was a broccoli salad, so I had to ask the neighbor that made it what did she put in it. They all know that I follow the diet by now. I mean, my whole street almost half converted to keto once I lost all the weight. They’re all back following their normal diets now, so it’s not really awkward to ask. I find people are often interested to talk about themselves or what they’ve made, so yeah. It’s not a problem. I think it’s just because I’m so dedicated to it that I mean, it just doesn’t matter. It’s more important for me to know what’s in it than to like just tiptoe around the issue.
Leanne Vogel: Feel awkward. Yeah. I mean, …
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah.
Leanne Vogel: … so many good nuggets that you just put out there. You set yourself and your health and your weight as a priority, so you don’t care if you’re in awkward situations where it’s like, “No, that doesn’t work for me. I’m just going to go grab a salad, ” but that you’re not sacrificing your social life in order to follow that diet. You’re still going out, doing things and saying, “Well, if it doesn’t work for me, I’m just going to go get a salad.” Chances are it’s not going to make people feel awkward, but if they do, so what because it’s my body.
Joanna Wilcox: Oh, yeah.
Leanne Vogel: I think that that’s really great. You’re just doing you and putting yourself first. Also, communicating. That’s a big thing. People say, “How do I manage social events?” Well, step one, go to the event, that’s a big one. Step two, ask the questions and if there’s nothing there, drink some water for a couple of hours until you’re too hungry that you need to go home or go out, grab something, come back. It doesn’t have to be … I think we put too much power in these things that don’t actually have to be that way.
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, it’s just a meal. Like, it’s one …
Leanne Vogel: Yes.
Joanna Wilcox: … meal, too. If you go to a wedding and what is served is not for you, I mean, I hear all the time, I mean, I personally have this no cheat day philosophy, so I think I’m like on day 307 of keeping my net carbs less than 30 grams of net carbs a day. For me, like there’s nothing you can do to stuff a piece of bread in my mouth. I hear from people, “Well, I went here and there was nothing else, so I didn’t have a choice.” It’s like, yeah, you do and your choice, obviously, your reason for doing this is not big enough to keep you sticking to what you set out for yourself. I would sit there at a wedding and not eat because I’m keto and I’m that hungry anyway. So, you know, it’s all good.
Leanne Vogel: I would say that your level of FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, is low.
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, yes.
Leanne Vogel: A lot of people have very high FOMO ratings.
Joanna Wilcox: They do.
Leanne Vogel: They just, they can’t miss out on stuff. Yeah. That can be a challenge, I think, but would you say that it all comes down to just respect for yourself, putting yourself as a priority and in fact that’s a lot of self-care? Would you say that that’s pretty fair to say is like, “No, my health is a priority, losing the weight is a priority,” and that’s just the way that it is for that?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, I would say that’s very fair to say. I mean, when you hit rock bottom the way that I did, when you get to a point where you just can’t accept that behavior from yourself anymore, then that’s all you need. It’s like literally there’s nothing anyone can do to force me to cheat or to make me cheat. I don’t look at other people and say, “Oh, this isn’t fair.” I mean and maybe it’s an attitude adjustment that people need it really in the end is to say like, “I’m choosing not to do this. I’m choosing a better path for myself.” It’s not that it’s not fair or that I can’t eat that. I know I can go to that barbecue and eat everything on the dessert table. It’s right next door. I mean, nothing’s stopping me, it’s what do I want for my life and I’ll tell you, it’s been worth every single no that I’ve said.
Every single time someone’s said, “Oh, just go off keto today and just have fun and just relax,” and it’s like, “No.” I mean, this has been worth it. The whole journey’s been worth it, to get where I am now is 100% been worth it. When people say keto’s restrictive or, I don’t buy it. I mean, there’s people in this world who have very, very few food options every single day and here we are with like so many different like really good tasting, fatty foods and I don’t find … I mean, maybe it’s just my attitude, but I don’t find that I’m restricting myself when I can’t have the bread or the pasta. I mean, it’s just I’ve got lots of options.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, completely, and I think so much of what you just said is that tough love that a lot of people need and also just that understanding of what you want out of life. I think a lot of people don’t take the time, especially yourself as a busy mom and everything going on. You have a job and kids and house and all this stuff going on to just take a moment and be like what do I want? How do I want to feel? A lot of people don’t take that time and it sounds like you have to the point where like, no, that doesn’t make me feel good. This is the life I want and that dessert table is not going to give it to me, so why would I do that? That’s a really, really, really powerful thing and I hope you understand just how awesome it is that you can do that.
Joanna Wilcox: Oh, I feel pretty awesome about it actually and do you know what? I think that every time that you do do that, it gets easier.
Leanne Vogel: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Joanna Wilcox: Every time you kind of take a stand for yourself, the next time it’s not so hard to turn it down.
Leanne Vogel: Taking a stand for yourself. That’s a really good way of putting it. I know that when I first went gluten-free it was really hard for me to be like, “No, it actually makes me sick. I don’t like that.” I felt it was really awkward, and now it’s just, it is.
Joanna Wilcox: It just is, yeah.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah. You know, with dairy and sugar and it’s very much like a muscle. The more you do it and the more you stand up for yourself and the more you just say that’s not okay and I’m not doing that and that doesn’t feel right to me or that food doesn’t make me feel good, this is the goal that I’m shooting for, it just becomes second nature.
Joanna Wilcox: Exactly, yeah.
Leanne Vogel: That’s awesome. Okay, let’s chat a little bit about the macros themselves. There’s a little bit of, well, there’s a lot of conflicting information about how much fat to eat for weight loss. Some people believe that if you’re doing keto for weight loss, it’s better to burn the body fat or the fat, rather, on your body, versus eating the fat and having to burn that first before your body burns the body fat. Where are you with the whole fat intake for your macros, balance of generating enough ketones, but not eating so much that you’re not burning your own fat? What are your thoughts?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, so the way I’ve always followed keto is I limit my carbs, I target my protein, and I only eat fat until satiated, which is what you were saying that people believe that if you’re doing it for weight loss, it’s better just to burn the fat on your body. I 100% agree with that statement that there’s a lot of available fuel source of fat already on your body when you’re overweight. I find this simplifies keto a lot as well because then you can eat fat, but you don’t have to consume large amounts of it at the end of the day if you haven’t been diligent in getting your fat in throughout your meals. If I was going to say I have to hit my fat macros every day, I could end up having to eat 50 grams of fat at 9:00 at night and that doesn’t really work for me. I’ve always just given myself grace with my fat intake. I think when I ran my calculator, there was a range that came with it that said you need to eat between, at the lowest 35 grams or 40 grams, and at the highest 150, but if you could get 110, that would be awesome. I very rarely hit my fat macros. I just rely on my body to use the fat that I have.
Leanne Vogel: Very cool. What are your favorite ways to make sure that you’re eating fat throughout the day?
Joanna Wilcox: I eat a lot of salad, so generally there’s a lot of fat in the dressings that I’m using. I mean, I’ve become like a salad crazy maniac, and I don’t really use MCT oil. I have occasionally at the end of the day because my fats were so low that I have added it to like on top of the salad when I’m having dinner. I don’t drink coffee, so Bulletproof Coffee is not in my repertoire. I’ll add butter on top of vegetables or on top of the meat that I’m cooking, but generally my fat source comes from like cheeses or like the meats that I’m eating or some added butter. Yeah.
Leanne Vogel: Is there a reason you don’t drink fatty coffee? Tell me more about this.
Joanna Wilcox: I’ve never had a cup of coffee.
Leanne Vogel: Even just fatty tea or just a fatty drink?
Joanna Wilcox: Actually, I’ve had a couple of cups of tea in my life, I just really don’t enjoy it.
Leanne Vogel: Wow, says a girl drinking a fatty coffee right now.
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, I’m not a warm drink kind of person. I don’t even like hot chocolate in the winter time. I mean, there’s nothing enjoyable about a warm drink to me. It’s very weird. It’s just me.
Leanne Vogel: And you’re Canadian.
Joanna Wilcox: And I’m Canadian. I know, it’s like I don’t really warm myself with any fluids in the winter, but you know what’s good? It saves me a lot of money.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, totally. That’s amazing. That’s so cool. Okay.
Joanna Wilcox: My husband doesn’t either, actually, neither of us do. There’s no machine at my house, so I have to send people to Tim Horton’s if they want coffee.
Leanne Vogel: Wow. That is really neat. Okay. Something I didn’t know about you. Very cool. You said, “Target your protein,” when we were talking about macros. Can you elaborate a little bit on what you mean by that?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah. I would never want to under eat my protein grams, so it’s great if I eat less than 20 net carbs, but I actually have a higher window. I allow myself to eat up to net 30 if I need to, but I think my average is about 21. When it comes to protein, I don’t want any muscle loss, so my goal is to always eat enough protein every day.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah, that’s something I see a lot. I know when I first started getting going with keto, it was like, well if too much protein is bad and moderate protein is good, then low protein is better.
Joanna Wilcox: Oh.
Leanne Vogel: You know?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, no.
Leanne Vogel: That’s not a thing.
Joanna Wilcox: No, and actually I’m kind of off the norm on that. Like, I have days sometimes that are like 40 grams over on my protein, so I don’t know if I really buy the whole “you’re eating too much protein, now you’re not in ketosis” argument. It’s a bigger worry to me not to eat enough.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah.
Joanna Wilcox: If I go over on it, I don’t even worry about it.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah. We could talk about gluconeogenesis for the next 30 minutes, …
Joanna Wilcox: For sure. Yeah.
Leanne Vogel: … but let’s just say I agree with you. Everything that I’ve been able to research on gluconeogenesis, which is the creation of glucose from protein, says like you’ve got to eat a whole bunch of it and it’s also a demand driven state. It’s not like immediately when you eat protein, your body’s like yep, glucose. It’s more like, do we need this, can we use it in other ways? It’s not as doom and gloom as people may think.
Joanna Wilcox: Perfect. It’s even easier than people think because now it’s like really you’re mostly just worrying about eating at least this much protein. Who cares where the fat falls? Just make sure you’re net carbs are low. That’s how I’ve maintained the success that I have is through this less-rigid idea of how to be keto and how to follow keto. Yeah.
Leanne Vogel: I love it, totally.
Joanna Wilcox: That’s great.
Leanne Vogel: If I could track, I would be right there with
you, but I am in my own little way of, yeah, I completely agree with you. It’s funny how stressed out we can get over something that’s actually so simple. Like, it’s so simple. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. This is so great. I have one last question for you and that’s where can people find you?
Joanna Wilcox: Yeah, so I’ve documented my entire journey from day one on Instagram. I’m on Instagram, my user name is @ketoincanada and I’m also on Facebook and YouTube with a similar user name. I have a website, that is IAmKetoinCanada.com and on that site, you’ll find the link to all of my social profiles, as well as, I have a beginner’s guide to keto there.
Leanne Vogel: Okay, awesome. We’ll include all of those links in the show notes. If you guys want to check them out and follow her along, definitely do it. The show notes and full transcript of today’s episode will be found at HealthfulPursuit.com/podcast/e64 and yeah, thanks for coming on the show, Joanna. I really appreciate it.
Joanna Wilcox: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a lot of fun.
Leanne Vogel: That does it for another episode of The Keto Diet Podcast. Thanks for listening in. You can follow me on Instagram by searching Healthful Pursuit where you’ll find daily keto eats and other fun things. Check out all of my keto supportive programs, bundles, guides and other cool things over at HealthfulPursuit.com/shop. I’ll see you next Sunday. Bye.