“We got married, we moved, we partied a lot. Ate a lot of fast food; drank a lot of alcohol. And I picked up smoking along the way.” Jessica Baker was explaining how she gained weight as a newlywed.
I too gained weight after marriage, but it wasn’t from fast food and alcohol; it was food and a new environment. Between both of our reasons is all of us who fall victim to the post-wedding pounds of bliss.
On top of those typical experiences, Jessica lived out of a hotel for three months! She ate fast-food for three meals a day as her husband convalesced from a life-threatening condition.
As Jessica was trying to move from Fort Bliss, Texas back to her home town in Virginia during her husband’s deployment, he fell ill and was rushed back to the States for treatment. They would spend the next year and a half at Fort Sam Houston, Texas in treatment and recovery for pancreatic tumors.
Jessica was far away from her family and without friends in the area while her husband fought for his life. Because of her decidedly positive attitude and acceptance of life as it is, I could not tell how scary that was for her, but we can imagine what that must have been like to face as a 21-year old.
Through that experience and the rest of coming of age as a wife, she gained 35 pounds.
Go to “What is a Ketogenic Diet?”
Go to “Exogenous Ketones”
Her Fitness Journey
“Fitness gave me purpose.” As we do, Jessica decided to make some changes while her husband was on deployment. “I was overweight, not happy, Joey was deployed. And I didn’t have kids at the time, so I was like ‘Well, what else am I gonna do?’ I got a gym membership. I ended up losing a bunch of weight, I literally dropped 10 pant sizes.”
She went from McDonald’s sweet tea twice a day to competing in bodybuilding shows. Her husband returned from deployment when she was four weeks out from her first Figure competition.
Having competed in a Figure competition myself, I retrospectively feel horrible for her husband.
There is a sect of people who advise against these types of competitions because of the effects they can have on your metabolism and your relationship with food. Jessica is now one of them as she immediately began to struggle with binge eating as a result of how extreme her diet was restricted. She gained 20 pounds in less than a month from over-eating and water weight gain.
Jessica managed to achieve some control and consistency with her diet until she became a mom. After struggling with infertility due to PCOS, she finally gave birth to a pair of healthy twin boys, and her binge eating resumed.
Jessica started getting back into fitness at about nine months postpartum. This is about the time she was introduced to exogenous ketones: a product that would put her into ketosis, helping her lose weight, control her appetite, and sustain the energy needed to parent two babies. From there, she began to experiment with the Ketogenic diet.
What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
If you have been in a third world country over the last few years, a ketogenic diet is a high in fat, low in carbohydrates, with moderate protein diet. The absence of carbohydrates in the system for an extended period of time causes the body to go into ketosis.
Ketosis is a state where the body uses fat for fuel, including the fat already on your body. The energy sources created from breaking down fat are called ketones. Since fat is a better source of fuel than carbohydrates (because it’s long burning), people experience a range of benefits including heightened mental acuity, sustained energy, and weight loss.
A proper keto diet starts with figuring out what your macronutrient needs are; that is, figuring out how many grams of fats, carbohydrates, and protein you need. There are several calculators online that will help you figure out this information. This means you have to track foods and count the macros, something I’m personally not motivated to do. However, apps like MyFitnessPal help make it easy.
The ketogenic diet is recommended for a variety of reasons. As you can see, people use it for weight loss, but it’s also optimal for certain medical conditions like epilepsy, diabetes, and Parkinson’s Disease, and it had been suggested to Jessica years prior for polycystic ovarian syndrome. People on a keto diet experience sustained energy and mental acuity because fat is more readily available than carbohydrates and break down more slowly; a gram of carbohydrates has four calories while a gram of fat has nine.
This is a very restrictive diet. You won’t be eating any traditional bread or sweets as you might have assumed, but you will also have to forgo many fruits and starchy vegetables for the most part.
I tried the ketogenic diet for one week in 2016. This will sound weird, but I was finally able to drink water without feeling I was stuffing it into my stomach. I definitely quickly looked skinnier, but I ultimately quit. I hadn’t prepared well enough and became grossed out by eating tons of cheese and sausage, and I didn’t like the idea of fruit being off limits. Jessica’s channel has plenty of food suggestions that I will look for if I ever decide to try it again.
For Jessica, the restrictiveness of the diet was problematic, and as she states on her channel, the best diet is one you can follow. You can’t cheat this diet and still reap the full benefits because it’s more than just a caloric restriction. The goal is to cause a chemical shift in the body where it utilizes your love handles for energy when you aren’t eating. One large hot fudge sundae, or even a Chipotle Burrito can set you back weeks.
What Are Exogenous Ketones?
Jessica’s solution came in the form of high-quality exogenous ketones. These put her into ketosis despite her diet. No, this doesn’t mean she still goes crazy on hot fudge sundaes and Chipotle burritos everyday. It means she doesn’t count carbs or limit her protein, and still has sweet potato fries when she wants without having to worry about wrecking her body chemistry for the next two weeks.
Exogenous Ketones: How They Work
Each morning Jessica pours a small packet of ketones in her shaker bottle with 20 ounces of water. She consumes them within 35 minutes, and within 30 minutes, she’s in ketosis! To keep the burn going, she has another serving in the evening along with plenty of water and leafy greens throughout the day to stay hydrated and maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes.
Without the exogenous ketones, an individual would have to adhere to a strict diet of primarily fat and typically less than 20 net grams of carbohydrates a day for several days, weeks, or even months to get to the zone where the body is looking for fat to fuel itself instead of the highs and lows of a carbohydrate-fueled diet.
Along with a keto-based diet, using exogenous ketones has enabled Jessica to lose weight and achieve a sustainable lifestyle that she can be proud of and recommend to others. They would still work without healthy diet, but one of the effects of the product is reduced cravings and sustained energy, which will help curb that trashy appetite anyway.
Advice for a New Spouse
Jessica’s experience goes deeper than her physical journey. She has been through more than some of us will experience in an entire military career in her nine years of marriage. What really stood out to me was that she gives off a sense of control despite the lack of control she has had in the adversity she’s faced. I asked what she had to share with other new spouses.
Taking a moment to be disappointed, sad, or angry, even is okay. Being a military family can be objectively difficult. But after you take a moment, you have a choice to look for the benefits. Your spouse being gone might make you lonely or stressed, but usually also means you don’t have to cook every night or do as much laundry.
Jessica’s official advice was this: “Just take it day-by-day, honestly. You can’t plan too far ahead with the military…Just be patient and just remember that your husband—sometimes he’ll be frustrated with work and stuff like that, but it’s because things are out of his control—be patient with him too. Because everybody’s kinda going through this whole thing and learning together. Be adaptable; adaptable to every single situation. And if you get hit with a curveball, just take a step back and [say,] ‘Okay. It’s cool. We’re gonna figure this out.’” Because you always do.
Check Out the Podcast!
Want to hear more about being a medical assistant, competing in Figure, being on a recruitment detail, or the ketogenic diet? Listen to “Jessica is Keto…ish” on the podcast!