Inspiring Ketonians in Greek Goes Keto universe burst with energy and each day reminds us of the reason we started this project! As our Keto Mediterranean movement is growing, we keep getting impressed by individuals from different parts of this planet that live a true KMD life. Regardless of their location, these Ketonians walk tall and each day shows that Keto Mediterranean is much more than just a diet!
Inspiring Ketonians can move mountains and make impossible tasks as easy as children’s play!
Get inspired, stay Ketonised!
This is why we want to present each of them and help you understand the postulates of KMD even better. As Socrates said – “Anybody can be a Hellene with their heart, spirit and soul”! Well, the same goes for our Ketonians and the inspiring Ketonian we are going to present to you today is like a supernova in our Greek Goes Keto galaxy! 😉
As always, this interview will be long, but we simply cannot make it short! You need to prepare a cup of refreshing herbal tea, Greek coffee or Sea buckthorn juice and read this interview! We promise, you’ll be motivated to get to reach your health and weight loss goal easier than you thought it would be!
About the background, growing up…
Tell us a bit more about changing countries, family tradition and eating habits? Is there something particular you loved to eat as a child but now you know it’s unhealthy?
I was born in Ecuador, South America. I was raised there until the age of 12 when we moved to the United States. I wasn’t happy about it and I pouted around for at least a year, after arriving. I missed my country and my family, my nanny, especially my father, my grandmother, and my aunts.
I came to the United States not knowing the language and having a very different culture. I learned English very quickly as I am very good with languages, but never really got accustomed to the ways of the youth here in this country. I didn’t really ever fit in. I’m an extrovert and friendly but very independent, assertive, and opinionated.
My mother raised me to be a strong woman and I was born already with a strong temperament. I had a difficult time during my teenage years. My mother is from Ecuador from a Spanish background and my father is of Italian descent.
They divorced when I was two, and my mother remarried when I was 5, to a Japanese man, from Okinawa. That in itself threw another cultural wrench in the already tense situation. To say my stepfather and I clashed in personalities would be an understatement! I have an older brother, he and I are the Italian kids and my parents had 2 girls, the Japanese kids.
As far as traditions go we were pretty typical Ecuadorians and liked to eat late on holidays and have family parties, etc. My mother is an excellent cook and great with sewing and crafts. She’s very artistic and so usually went all out with those things. I enjoyed helping with that. She made her own gifts by hand and wrapped the presents to perfection. She always added more detailed bows to them and other embellishments.
I enjoyed learning to do that as well. I’m not as good as her, but I do enjoy it and have a good eye for detail as well.
Carby foods throughout the childhood
As far as the food is concerned, Ecuadorian cuisine is very heavily influenced by meats, seafood, cheese, corn, potatoes, rice, and lentils. Lots of breaded and cheesy foods. We also ate a lot of oriental food, as you could imagine. The one good thing is that we cooked everything from scratch, so that’s been successfully passed down to my own children as well.
The bad thing is that those delicious and unhealthy foods made me a very chubby child from an early age. I always had a great appetite, just like my brother, and we ate all of the food served by my mother, with gusto.
My favourite foods were empanadas, plantains, mashed potatoes, burritos, rice with cheese and corn, oriental rice and chicken, bread pudding, yucca bread, breaded chicken, and hot cheese sandwiches. I cannot eat any of those foods today.
The only food I loved as a child that I can still eat today is cow tongue, but I don’t make it as good as my nanny Agustina made it.
As a young girl, you were quite active, Karate is just one of the things, tell us a bit more about that period of your life…
I was! I loved karate, soccer, swimming, skating, and biking. I always came up with daredevil moves on my bicycle and gymnastic moves in the pool and at home. I would repeat them until I would get them right. I was always coming home all scraped up and my mother would have to cure me with lots of alcohol and Merthiolate!! I also loved reading, singing, and teaching myself to play musical instruments.
When did you first notice health issues and weight gain and what was the first thing you did? Tell us a bit more about your healing journey…
I started getting chubby at 8 years old. I did not eat a terrible lot but ate a lot of foods that were high in carbs, of course. At least the food in Ecuador was homemade so I did ok for the most part. I did have unexplained stomach aches often, nausea, and constipation. I was always carrying about 20 lbs over my ideal weight, even though my teen years.
Once I moved to the United States my diet took a turn for the worst
By the time I was 18, I was fed up with being fat, so I dieted extensively by cutting all fat intake down to 10 grams a day max and eating only 700 calories!!! I was into karate and trained at the dojo 4 times a week and then went to the gym after, to work out some more.
This allowed me to go down to 109 lbs for the first time in my life since being around 10 years old. I then returned to a more normal diet but continued restricting calories and fat.
Going extremely low fat
After marriage, I packed on about 25 lbs (11,4 Kg), but It wasn’t until after I had my first daughter, that I really packed on the weight. I went all the way up to 192 lbs with my first pregnancy. At this point, I was beside myself and went back to what I knew worked previously. Back to the 700 calories a day and 10 grams max of fat daily. I lived on frozen diet meals and fat-free hotdogs or sandwiches with low-fat cheese and turkey. I lost all of the weight but was not healthy of course.
I started having all kinds of issues. Severe stomach pains, severe constipation, nausea, blurry vision, forgetfulness, and even would get sick and vomit every time I ate pizza or Chinese food at restaurants. I had terrible joint and back pain and it spiralled into fibromyalgia, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, and terrible digestive issues. I tried all kinds of diets and nothing worked.
I was fat, exhausted, and sick with a full-time job and four children to take care of…
The stress did not help…
Years later through researching online to try and help my adoptive sons with their health, digestion, and behaviour, I came across a paper written by a biochemist who had adopted three children from Russia and was experiencing the same terrible behaviours from her children and the health problems. She advised putting the children on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet.
I found the information fascinating and decided that I would definitely do that as I had already reduced their dairy consumption and totally removed cow’s milk from their diet. I figured going a bit further was no big deal.
After removing totally gluten and cow’s dairy from the boys, we saw amazing results. So I decided we all would go gluten-free and dairy-free as a family. I already was pretty active in the kitchen, since I came from a long line of great cooks. But, having to remove all gluten and dairy at that time (2006), meant having to pretty much make everything from scratch. There were a minimal amount of products for special diets in those days, and that forced me to cook every single meal.
The improvement in all of my conditions and that of the children (including my second daughter who was perpetually ill), changed immediately, within 2 weeks of starting. My husband had gained tons of weight and had been diagnosed with diabetes, hypothyroidism, and high cholesterol. He also saw a lot of improvement and lost tons of weight! Throughout the years we slowly took out more and more food items as I grew aware of what they were and would realize they were detrimental.
We removed corn, soy, white sugar, food dyes, additives, MSG, etc… even grains eventually for a period of time. We have a lot of experience substituting foods and making “regular” dishes into safe dishes. It’s been quite an evolution!
Your love story is inspiring, tell us a bit more about your marriage, children and your family…
Our story began in Miami Florida in 1990. We met there through some friends and I was fortunate, or rather he was 😉, that I had taken a semester of sign language prior to meeting him. Since he is deaf, we would not have been able to communicate otherwise.
We hit it off right away and it was a very short courting period before we married. We got married in three months, I was 19 and he was 24! We’ve now been married for 28 years and have four children, two biological daughters and two adoptive sons.
We were very fortunate to be very compatible and complementary in our temperament and skills. If it wasn’t for our shared trait of reacting to stressors and challenges by coming together tighter and supporting each other, we would’ve never made it through the tough years.
We experienced severe difficulties and trauma due to the adoption of the boys. It was a very unhappy and tumultuous experience for the whole family. It’s a miracle we came out of it as a still connected family unit after all was said and done!
My husband is of Puerto Rican background and even though he doesn’t know Spanish due to the fact that he is deaf, that deep ingrained culture and value system is still inside him which gives us similar philosophies in regards to raising our children.
Both you and your husband have amazing success stories on Keto, but you are an engineer behind this, how did the progress go?
I started Keto in January 2018, after not thriving any longer on just a gluten-free and dairy-free diet and continuing to deteriorate health-wise, while gaining weight steadily. All of the vegetables, rice, beans, honey, and fruits I was eating were really ruining my health. At the same time, my husband who had been diagnosed with diabetes in 2006 was experiencing worse and worse symptoms and high glucose readings.
After I started the Keto diet, I noticed it was very good and really easy to follow. So, when I saw my husband with glucose readings in the 280s, I told him he needed to go on Keto right away. He finally accepted in February of 2018 and the adventure began. I had followed a zero carb diet in 2015 and had lost a lot of weight, it was very restrictive I thought, so after 9 months, I quit and gained all of the weight back.
I kept dreaming of feeling as awesome as I did then and was hoping Keto would work while offering more variety. It did but this was a problem because I started having a lot of problems with IBS and other allergy symptoms and not losing any weight, after the initial 10 lb loss. My husband’s sugars did improve somewhat but we were not able to get them below the 160s.
My daughter Billie bought me a Keto Mojo ketone and glucose meter and I was able to really get deeper in experimentation mode, to decipher which foods were hindering my progress. I continued to test my foods and my husband his foods with his glucose meter and little by little we removed pretty much all vegetables and even berries from our diet. We were both able to keep some specific foods that agreed with us by obtaining good results after consuming them.
We judged them by how we felt physically after eating them and how the ketones and blood sugar levels were affected. After about 5 months on Keto, we bit the bullet and became mostly carnivore with some flexibility.
It’s been a long road and my husband has actually learned to cook for himself, now that we are empty nesters and I don’t have children to cook for any longer. We have very different tastes and eating schedules so it’s much more feasible than each one cook for themselves. I do like to make Greek Goes Keto desserts for my husband and he has loved them all!!
You are an amazing and inspiring person, but what motivates you?
Maybe I’m lucky in this respect, but I don’t really have to try to feel motivated. I just wake up that way!! I always think of other people who are in worse situations and how they would wish they were in mine.
I am always thankful for having enough to buy my food, having a roof over my head, and arms and legs that work. Also, I think working hard and enjoying the rewards of perseverance is a big motivator for me. Furthermore, I like to feel good; I hate not feeling my best at all times, as I’m very sensitive to body changes or malaise. I want to have a long quality of life to be able to fulfill my dreams.
I do want to live a long time but not in poor health. I have lots of plans and dreams still to pursue and I want to have the stamina and health to be able to enjoy them!
When and how did you hear about Greek Goes Keto and how our approach to KMD influenced your lifestyle?
I believe it was about 5 months ago that I started seeing your live clips sometimes shared in other Keto groups. I didn’t know who you were and at first, passed them by. I was very busy with my other groups and more involved in keeping up with the more well-known people such as Dr. Berry, Paul Saladino, Dr. Westman, Shawn Baker, etc..
One day I saw you guys again and thought to myself they seem to be an interesting couple let me watch them. I watched half a couple of times and then one day I watched the full clip. I checked out your page and recipes and was interested because I saw your recipes were clean!! I have been reading labels and eating clean for many years and that is very important to me. Once I caught you live and started interacting with you both,
I noticed right away what honest, intelligent, likeable, and witty people you were. I started watching from then on as often as I could and continued to see how very special and knowledgeable you were.
Once you started interacting with me, I was so impressed by how kind, genuine, humble, and caring you were towards your followers… I have been hooked since! I consider you dear friends now, like family! You both have brought much joy to my days! I look forward to continuing to share our passion for a clean Keto way of eating for everyone and to help spread the word of the Keto Mediterranean Diet (KMD) philosophy along with the postulates of this way of living.
You seem to be very communicative and extrovert, will you be creating your own blog or YouTube channel?
I have a keto group as you know, and I’m pretty sure that’s as far as I’ll go. I don’t really have enough time for it all, with having to still work outside the home. I am a trilingual Interpreter and that keeps me pretty busy! We have some plans to try to downsized our living arrangements and hopefully become snowbirds.
I help a few people privately and help out as an admin or moderator in a few groups. It really keeps me busy and I’m more of a one-on-one type of person. When I am introduced to or come across a new individual who needs my help with starting keto, they usually come to me with a lot of issues or confusion from following a dirty keto approach. I like to give them my undivided attention.
What I enjoy the most is to have a very sick person reach out to me for help and then seeing them blossom as they feel better and better once I can get their eating plan straightened out. There’s no better feeling!! Since I’ve suffered from many health issues and through trial and error, I solved them, the best thing I can do is help anyone else who is having similar experiences. I love sharing my knowledge and in this way help others to heal themselves quickly and with the least amount of suffering.
How do you manage your KMD lifestyle? You work a lot, have family and hobbies, what is the secret to perfect time management?
For me, the best way to manage the diet and a busy schedule is to predict, prepare, and keep things simple. One has to take advantage of the time one has available, to prepare for when one is busy. I always make sure I get plenty of meats and seafood to last us the week and freeze most of it, to avoid spoilage.
I make sure to have the basics in the fridge at all times. Only make complicated recipes when you have time off and just keep to a few foods, the rest of the time. I always make sure there are ground beef and lamb, fat, eggs, goat’s and sheep’s cheese, and steak on hand. Those are very easy to prepare in just 10 min. It’s imperative to make sure to defrost meats for the next day this way there’s always thawed out meat in the refrigerator ready to cook.
I take advantage of Amazon and PrimeNow grocery delivery to order dry goods such as coconut flour, stevia, psyllium husk, and fresh groceries as well. When it comes to preparation, I always cook for the dogs on Sundays so that they have food all week and I avoid having to worry about that during the workweek.
Lastly, I make use of a grass-fed meat delivery company that sends me meats freshly frozen, once a month, to my door, to ensure we have good quality meats to consume. If I had to give a word of advice, I would say find at what time of day you are most productive and function better at and try to maximize that time.
Don’t just follow a schedule because everyone else says that’s the right way to live. Find what works for you and your body and follow your own rhythm. If this means changing jobs or moving to do whatever it takes but don’t be complacent; maximize your strengths.
Do you have a favourite GGK recipe and if yes, what attracted you to that particular recipe?
I would have to say that the lemon bread is my absolute favourite GGK recipe. It’s superb tasting and I was attracted to it because I love lemon anything!! I haven’t made the Keto Choco Sampita yet though, and I’m curious if I’ll like it better than the lemon bread. Not to mention, that the Turkish delight has me very intrigued! 😋
How do you see the future of Keto! Do you think humans of the future will be healthier?
I am not too sure about the future of Keto. In one way the Keto diet has taken the world in a storm and the big difference is that people are actually able to maintain their weight loss for a long period of time. However, as we know a lot of people are dealing with food addictions and wanting to be in the comfort zone.
These people will not last in the long run. I think that the diet will continue to grow to a point and from then on, it will stay as it is now. Half of us willing to stay with it for life, and many others throwing the towel and going back to more “inclusive” diets like just low carb, gluten-free, or Paleo.
I think for the duration of our lifetime, it will continue to be us Ketonians and the standard western diet people.
Sadly, I think this vegan movement will continue to gain popularity for many years until more evidence is published of how dangerous it really is. Of course, for me and my husband, we are in it for life. I would not ever eat any other way.