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Reflecting on the successes and failures of #tjketochallenge
keto challenge

As someone who has followed the keto diet as religiously as possible for over a year, I understand that with success comes many failures.

Would I consider the Turlock Journal Keto Challenge a failure? Not by any means.

When I originally published a story in the Journal back in July that asked our readers to hop on board the keto train, I thought that three, maybe four or possibly even 10 people at the most would join our endeavor. Instead, we were met with an overwhelming response and welcomed nearly 40 members into our Turlock Journal Keto Challenge Facebook group.

At first, the result was an incredibly supportive page filled with ideas, recipes, inspiration and more. While some remained consistent throughout the eight-week challenge (I’m looking at you, Gilbert), some of us — myself included— began posting less and less, perhaps too stressed about work, busy with kids and school or just disheartened about the challenge to post as frequently as before.

I’m not sure if the lack of posts necessarily meant that people were having difficulty with the diet, but I know in the Journal office we had our own struggles. A majority of our efforts (meaning myself, Journal editor Kristina Hacker and our multimedia extraordinaire Frankie Tovar) were derailed when we visited the Taste of the Delta event in Stockton, where our willpower was tested by wines, breads, grits and more.

Together, we faltered. But together, we recognize that journeys of weight loss and diets aren’t all easy streets — there are plenty of valleys to drive down into, sharp turns you weren’t expecting and uphill climbs that test you both mentally and physically.

That’s why I consider the Turlock Journal Keto Challenge a success. Despite fears that can come with starting something new, like the fear of failure or fear of judgement, 36 people took a first step they believed would lead them to a healthier life by joining our Facebook group, and that takes courage. So, when I look at the group’s page, despite the fact that there aren’t as many posts these days, I see a group of people who tackled their fear head-on and gave it a shot.

Kristina told me she was excited about starting the challenge originally and was eager to attempt the keto lifestyle once more — this time with a support system in place.

“I have to confess, however, that my discipline went out the window when I got a cold about halfway through the challenge. I’m thankful for Angelina’s support — which was helpful instead of judgmental,” Kristina said. “Despite her encouragement, it was really hard getting back on the keto wagon.”

Kristina said she still wholeheartedly supports those following the keto diet, but she’ll likely use her new knowledge and awareness of the carbohydrates in food to simply make better decisions when eating moving forward.

As for myself, I slipped during the challenge but am still a firm believer in the keto diet and what it’s helped me accomplish. Our Facebook page is still active and I plan on consistently posting once more as I attempt to go one month without cheating leading up to Halloween.

Frankie said he entered the challenge with good intentions, but “forgot” that he was a part of it about three or four weeks in. I suspect that could be a little white lie, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. Regardless, I appreciate Frankie even attempting the keto diet in the first place because I know the man loves his carbs.

“By the time I remembered I was in the challenge I had already consumed copious amounts of carbs, so I figured there was no point in going back,” Frankie told me. “I must now live with my shame. Thankfully, beer and pizza help me bear the burden.”

Frankie’s statement struck a chord with me because it’s how I used to feel when I would try other diets or just when I was eating healthy in general. When I failed and ate something unhealthy, the old me would sink into despair and think all was lost. Over the past year, I finally realized that one bad day doesn’t equal a bad week, bad month or bad year.

Losing 50 pounds in a year on the keto diet was an accomplishment that came with countless bad days and setbacks. Where before I would give up, throughout this weight loss journey I recognized that all I had to do was begin again the next day and try my best.

That’s the message I would like to send to all of our Turlock Journal Keto Challenge participants, and even those who stuck with the diet the whole way through. You are not defined by your failures, but by how you respond to them and bounce back. While the eight-week challenge wasn’t quite what we envisioned when we set out on this journey, I think the true test for the participants and myself is what comes next: The bounce back.