A Ketonian that keeps inspiring – Presenting Richard Hadvina

Ketonian, what does it mean? It’s is a term many of you became accustomed to since we use it often in live videos, articles, or on our apparel. But what does it actually represent? It’s not just another way to describe a person who’s following the ketogenic diet. It’s much more than that! Now, we know that talking about how we do our KMD is good, but it’s much better to give you stories of Ketonians around the globe who truly can motivate you. They can give you that extra push in the right direction when it comes to Keto Mediterranean lifestyle and healing.

KMD postulates and how to live them

We keep talking about the three postulates of Keto Mediterranean diet and we always invite Ketonians to remember them.

  1. Natural, healthy, fresh ingredients…
  2. Homemade, slow cooking, patience…
  3. Fun, laughter, comedy and enjoyment of sunshine and life…

On this occasion, we want to present you Richard Hadvina, one of the most positive persons we encountered in Greek Goes Keto universe! It’s not only about the attitude, but it’s also about sharing! Richard is selflessly sharing tips and recommendations to improve my swimming training.

He is also giving advice to other Ketonians and in general, he is being really supportive in our community. This interview is long to read, but it might be the most interesting piece of text you’ll find on Keto websites. After all, it is people who make the difference! Their personal stories and their ever-inspiring spirits that can change the world!

First, let’s remember your childhood. Where did you grow up? Do you remember your childhood diet and what pushed you in the direction of the sport?

I was born and raised in various suburbs of Los Angeles, California to my parents who are Hungarian and both born in Transylvania (which is now in Romania). I have one older brother named Eddie and a younger sister named Cindy. We are all very close. My Mom grew up near Budapest in a small town called Budaors, and my father grew up in a town called Bačka Topola, Serbia (not far from the Hungarian border, also not far from Herzegovina or Greece). They came to America in the late 1950s and met in Detroit Michigan and soon moved to the more temperate and Mediterranean like Southern California.

As a young child, you lived a more European style culture than American?

When I started school I slowly adapted more and more to the American lifestyle. However, I enjoyed eating complex foods from an early age. My grandmother and mother taught me how to cook and bake Hungarian because of my deep interest in the culinary arts, more so than my siblings. The foods were a combination of quality whole balanced dishes.

No hydrogenated fats, just butter and animal fats. But there was a side to those food options that were my nemesis. European pastry. I had little will power and had no self-control. My ghrelin (the hunger hormone) would not stop, and lepton (satiety hormone) wouldn’t kick in. Luckily, I was always tall and was growing at a fast pace, so it didn’t seem to affect me much. American foods were not nearly as tasty, so we never really went out to eat. 

Richard’s parents

My father was an elite athlete. In the ’50s before coming to America, he was the captain of the Yugoslav Gymnastics team. Interestingly, he qualified to enter the 1956 Olympics but had to flee to America before the games. He was literally superhuman. He was extremely strong and for a 6 feet tall, or 1.8 meters tall man, in order to be an Olympic calibre gymnast, you had to be strong.

Was your father an inspiration to you?

I wanted to be strong like him, so I asked him to show me how to be strong. My father showed me many exercises that he learned in gymnastics using your own body weight, and that was the beginning of my athleticism. I must say, he also showed me how to analyse and solve problems by thinking and looking at things differently than most. A great thing I learned from him is how to not be afraid of micro failures. He was one of my great heroes. He also spoke 8 languages fluently with little to no accent. 

Richard with his mother

My Mom is a great thinker. She gave me a passion for the arts, psychology, philosophy, and self-improvement. To this day we can talk for hours on any subject matter. She showed me how one can face adversity and keep on growing. She recently wrote an autobiography about the contrast of her life pre-world war 2 Europe to communism and oppression and later contrasting that with her experienced and observations in America. It is titled “By Dawn We’ll be free”.

During your young age, you were extremely active and becoming an athlete was a very natural path. However, modern fitness and sports industry keep pushing carbohydrates to athletes. Do you remember what your diet looked like when you were competing?

In my past, I was a champion athlete swimmer that would train 5 hours daily and ate over 10,000 calories a day.  I was the champion of Los Angeles in the butterfly stroke in high school. As you could imagine, I was always hungry. Coaches were not involved in influencing my nutrition choices. My Mother was. My co-swimmers always ate processed or fast foods, but I rarely did. I did eat a lot of carbs, however.

Once I woke up in the middle of the night and craved cake (which we did not have). I baked one from scratch, frosted it, ate the entire cake, cleaned my evidence and went back to bed. The outer appearance of my body didn’t suffer. My body was the envy of most of my friends. Internally, I was very inflamed. My nose was always runny from massive A1 dairy milk products. I had eczema and asthma (can you imagine asthma as a swimmer that holds their breath always. Swimming actually helped tremendously). By the way, my asthma virtually disappeared after 1 year of Keto.

When did you start gaining weight and having health issues? What was the reason you came to the decision to try the Ketogenic diet? How did you discover it?

After stopping competitive swimming, I was still somewhat active (and coached swimming for ten years), but I struggled to maintain my awesome “swimmers body”.  I gained 10 to 15 pounds right away at University. I went to California State University Northridge and slowly started embracing the western diet. Processed food galore. I still cooked a lot, but also ate whatever I saw that looked interesting, with no knowledge or concern of the negative impacts it would later manifest in my health and body. 

Did you think exercise will solve the problem?

I decided to go back to intense exercise but was exhausted all of the time as I was no longer a teenager, so I would take what I thought would be a short break from exercise, and that break never ended. The next thing I knew, I gained another 10 to 15 lbs. So, I joined a gym and thought that alone would take care of it. It allowed me to gain more muscle and strength, but it was hidden by a healthy layer of fat. My old eating habits persisted.

  I had to buy new clothes so I would not feel like an exploded pack of Pillsbury biscuits (an American food product that is embarrassingly unhealthy, but convenient). Life always took a direction of career and personal growth for me by choice I believe but also included more stress and less time.

Eating fast and quickly seemed like the only path. The next thing I knew, I am happily married and have two kids with several new and different jobs that later led to a business, and then came auto-immune issues such a eczema, really bad asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, constant gastric distress as well as high (pre-hypertension) blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, horrible cholesterol scores.

You later learned that cholesterol itself is not the issue, inflammation is…

Exactly! Entering pre-type 2 diabetes and very little energy to spare.  I thought, how can an elite athlete turn into this funny, walking, low energy sick person? 

The medical assessment calculators said that I had a high percentage risk of dying in the next ten years and I was only 45 years old. So, back to my yo-yo diet path. But, my body’s inability to sustain the starvation or high-intensity training was unsustainable and I subconsciously knew it. I dropped a little weight but was on the way to regaining it back plus some extra every time. Don’t get me wrong, at a final weight of 275 lbs, I didn’t really look obese because I am tall and have a very good body frame that disguised the massive weight. 

How did your healthy diet path look?

Then in-comes a concept called the Paleo diet. The paleo diet is designed to resemble what human hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago. 

Although it’s impossible to know exactly what human ancestors ate in different parts of the world, researchers believe their diets consisted of whole foods. There was nothing to lose but excess weight. So, I decided to give it a try for 30 days. I started at that time and dropped to 20 lbs after the 30 days. The 250 lbs resistance line for the first time in 20 years was broken.  My skin rashes were decreasing, and my joints were feeling so much better.

I decided to continue eating that way. I was more satisfied, so I knew I could sustain it. It was relatively easy to eat that style of eating.  I liked eating wholesome real foods again. My body, for the first time in 25 years was given an opportunity to heal itself. I started to have more energy and noticed that I slept deeper and woke up well-rested. However, starches were allowed in the paleo diet.

What about the starch in Paleo?

After eating starches, I would feel a “food coma” (caused by increase in insulin). Then I stalled in the weight loss. I felt much better, but not amazing, and cravings of rich sweet foods were very powerful. I told a friend about my paleo journey and he said he was paleo earlier and took it in a new direction with a ketogenic approach (called Atkins)

From an American point of view, how does KMD looks like? Is it difficult to perform clean Keto in California?

I was concerned by the effects of bacon fat and other dietary freestyle fats. So I did a lot of research. I found that Youtube had a lot of great info about the ketogenic diet. I was fascinated and read many books on the subject. I read many scientific studies to validate some of the content. I learned about inflammation and the balance of good and bad fat as well as other inflammatory triggers. I found several experts in the field talking about eating as natural, wild and unprocessed (clean) as possible (Dave Asprey of the Bulletproof brand). Grass-fed, cold-pressed, wild-caught, pasture-raised, were my new mantras. 

How did you discover GGK, what attracted you?

After about 2 months, I seemed to make a habit out of the new way of eating which I really enjoyed better than before. I was eating clean Keto. Then, on my Facebook feed, somehow a photo of the most delicious ketonised éclair shows up. I investigated further, to be taken to the Greekgoesketo.com website.

I was taken back to the memories of my wife Shellie and my honeymoon to the Greek isles and Athens in 2003. The food reminded me of the European style of my parents and grandparents. Then one Saturday, I saw that there was a live feed of Roberta and Apollonas talking about Keto. The content was slightly different than what I had been researching. Keto Mediterranean Lifestyle was heavily emphasised. To me, that translated to a less inflammatory and cleaner way of doing Keto.

6 months later, I was down to 220 lbs with no exercise. I could start seeing my abs. Skin rashes are almost gone as well as breathing was normal with no wheezing 

I decided it was time to put my new found energy to good use and started the light exercise.  I continued clean and satisfying eating with slight tweaks to what I was doing before KMD (Keto Mediterranean Diet). 6 months later, I had dropped to 205 lbs (that’s a total 70 lbs drop in fat), and I gained muscle. I started swimming again and can swim faster sets now than in my prime. My cognitive ability is stronger (better memory, faster problem solving and lower stress even in challenging times).  

Do you agree that age is just a number, as we often like to point out?

I am now 52 years old (53 on Feb 1), and I feel better than I did in high school. Everything in my body works. I am sure I don’t look older than 40 years of age (maybe younger).  I am getting better and better. My blood pressure is now that of a healthy teenager. 

You could say I am living proof of that. Eating the way our ancestors ate, allowed me to heal from the inside out. I don’t need medication to solve the typical problems of the standard American diet. I was able to solve it with knowledge and with the help of a new lifestyle called keto/zero-carb. 

You have been travelling with your family, just recently you visited Europe…, how different is life and eating habits in the USA and other places where you traveled?

My family and I love to travel. We travel at least 2 to 3 times a year with one trip being greater. We took my mother to Hungary for her 80th birthday this year. It was my first time there because I wanted to save Hungary to go with my parents. We would have taken my father as well, but unfortunately, he passed away from a very unusual allergic reaction to imaging dye during a simple medical test in 2005, so I thought that it is now or never.

We had a great time. My Mom is one of my heroes. She is 80, but you would think she is in her early 60’s by looks, health energy and mind. She eats low-carb now.  I found that in Hungary, many traditional Hungarian foods are now unfortunately westernised. High fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats are everywhere. 

More than half of the people we saw in Budapest were obese. It was sad. Going into more of the countryside and away from the city, we saw the opposite. Farmers markets had wonderful and healthy options everywhere. People looked healthier. There were very few westernised options in the countryside. People seemed more active. 

Did you visit any other Mediterranean country?

We went to Spain a few years ago (before Keto), and my friend who we visited warned that most foods were prepared with low-grade cheap vegetable oils and don’t taste very good (Paella was not that great when cooked with tons of these cheap oils). This is mostly in tourist areas. In Spain, I noticed that people were more conscious of their health and would exercise in the mornings. They seemed to eat much less than Americans do. I find that to be true wherever we travel. 

How does your typical day look like? How many hours do you fast, can you tell us an example of your meal and your training routine?

 I intermittent fast often, however, I try to vary the time windows to fool my metabolism. I usually do an 18 t0 20 hour fast to a four-hour eating window. Last meal could be 7:00 p.m. and the next meal at 3:00 p.m. the next day. I have black Arabica coffee every morning Monday through Friday.

Saturday and Sunday, I add a very small amount of grass-fed or goat butter with clean grass-fed collagen and 1 tsp of MCT oil to my coffee. I usually don’t focus on fasting on weekends. Sometimes, I will do alternate day fasting, one day on, one day off of eating for a week or so. Occasionally, approximately once a month I will do a two or three day fast. 

Daily routine and healing process

Since Keto, I have more energy than I did even as a teenager. It is really interesting to observe. My sleep is very recuperative and deep. I usually wake up well rested after 6 to 7 hours. I do supplement with minerals a little (magnesium glycinate in the evening and ancient sea salts throughout the day) Potassium comes from foods such as avocado. Vitamin c from occasional berries. I am probably more carnivore lately though. It brought me to a new level of strength and performance and even more reduction in inflammation.

I eat fish products more than ever now thanks to GGK live stream info.  I love and eat a lot of fermented foods like real sauerkraut, pickles etc. I wake up at approximately 5:30 a.m. while the family is asleep; I make black Arabica coffee and do research on health and nutrition. I recently became certified in several different forms of level 1 nutrition. I would like to pursue level 2 nutrition coaching.  I also try to keep up with nutritional scientific studies that are published and peer-reviewed. I also follow some of the big ketogenic bloggers such as GGK ☺, Thomas DeLauer, and Ken Berry MD. and others. I have read dozens of books on the ketogenic diet.

After kids are up and packed and leave for school (I try to be as involved as much as I could), and my wife also works so I help get them ready, I then go to the gym Monday through Friday in a fasted state. I have to wait until customers reach out to me via email or text in the morning to know what direction I need to travel that day, so what better way than wait while working out.

Real training, at any age, is it possible and doable?

I do dry-land work out for approximately 20 to 30 minutes first. Monday upper body, Tuesday cardio, Wednesday legs and abs, Thursday cardio, then Friday back to the upper body. The following week I start with legs and so on. After dry land, I swim. I don’t swim very long, maybe 30 minutes. I sometimes do distance only, then do sprints only, then stroke work such as butterfly only and isolate legs or arms occasionally. I mix it up as much as I can on different days.

Recovery is very important as well. That’s why I alternate body parts on land training and vary my swimming. I then go to various customers locations which require a bit of driving. (I always listen to educational material while travelling). I follow my appetite. I try to reach at least 16 or 17 and sometimes up to 20 hours of fasting to achieve autophagy. Then approximately 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. depending on the day, I eat. I may have leftover prepared food from the previous night with me in a cooler. It could be fish or some other healthy meat.

Sometimes I stop at a supermarket and purchase a red bell pepper and or a cucumber, and will eat that with some olives or olive oil. In the evening I cook a grass-fed ribeye or wild-caught cod. I have friends that hunt deer or other wild game and fishing and are usually generous to me.  I make my own avocado oil mayonnaise and will mix siracha (a type of fermented hot sauce) and put that over the cod sometimes. I will make recipes that I found that morning in the evening. A lot of cooking experimentation occurs on the weekends for me. I am on a quest to go to an Asian market to by quail eggs and try mayonnaise with that. I am on a quest to ketonize  Hungarian dishes and pastries. 

Do you enjoy the ketonising process, which is your favourite recipe from Greek Goes Keto?

The first thing I ever learned how to cook as a child was crepes (in Hungarian called “palacsinta” which in Croatian is Palačinka). After Keto, I really missed many foods such as crepes. Thanks to Greek Goes Keto, I have made GGK two-ingredient crepes with a little blueberry marmalade many times. It took getting used to flipping them without the gluten, but I look at it as further developing my culinary skills. I am working on both. I plan on trying the “Good Old pizza goes Keto” recipe and the two different Moussaka recipes this week. 

Can you tell us a bit more about your profession?

My area of study was Urban Studies (study of cities) with an emphasis on cartography (map making). I was a corporate analyst for years with a utility company in California called PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric). There I helped lead and run the mapping division of the company. You could say I had a very eclectic professional background throughout my life.

Technical could be another word to describe me, but also very creative. I simply love being a people person and can usually communicate to all levels of people whether from a different culture, technical, artistic, presidents of companies all the way to labourers, and translate their ideas well. We all have to understand that we are not above or below anyone. I was always an entrepreneur and decided my growth was soon to end at PG&E as I was already almost at the top of the organisation, so I decided to leave and start a company of my own.

A company that I started over 10 years ago is called Maxx Air. It specialises in heavy-duty diesel engine smog compliance. We retrofit with diesel particulate filters and service them as well. It keeps me pretty busy but offers some freedom as well. Financially it is good, but I can’t scale (grow it) very easily because I have to be involved in every aspect of it. I am on a personal growth phase again in other avenues I will describe below.

company that I started over 10 years ago called Maxx Air. It specialises in heavy-duty diesel engine smog compliance. We retrofit with diesel particulate filters and service them as well. It keeps me pretty busy but offers some freedom as well. Financially it is good, but I can’t scale (grow it) very easily because I have to be involved in every aspect of it. I am on a personal growth phase again in other avenues I will describe below.

The third postulate of KMD says about enjoying life, how do you do that?

I have always liked to cook. At one point after University, I almost enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America but decided to pursue my area of study. 

I love to ski (actually snowboard now) my wife is better at it than I am as she was the president of the ski club in University. My kids love it as well.

Richard’s brother Eddie is a competitive champion skateboarder

Watersports are a big passion of mine. I owned several boats in University and water skied often. I also surf occasionally, but that is my brother’s sport. He is another one of my heroes. He is 58 years old and is currently a competitive champion skateboarder. Look up Eddie Hadvina in your search engine and under images, and you will see an example that age is only a mental construct. He is Keto as well. My sister Cindy is one year younger than I am and was also a successful swimmer in high school. She enjoys much of the same interests as I do.

Travelling is my passion. We have been to Europe many times. Every country in Europe I have visited is beautiful. I am working on more Eastern Europe travels soon. I also want to go back to Greece. Maybe this next summer to the Greek Goes Keto retreat if my finances work out. 

Love for the vintage cars

I love vintage cars. I purchased an old 1977 Ford Bronco that was in boxes in desperate need of restoration. My wife thought I was crazy and never thought it would ever even look like a car much less a restored one. It took me three years, but it is completed and is a show quality vehicle. I did most of the restoration myself and saved a lot of money doing it myself. I am more interested in the process than the end result, but I love driving it.

The entertainment never ends for me and my family. We bought a nice small house in a great neighbourhood and have a great group of friends. We restored/remodelled the house ( I grew up with a construction background) and have a beautiful back yard with an amazing pool.

Our Ketonians love receiving your tips, I enjoy valuable tips on swimming, you even helped Alex with the tips on breathing exercise. Could you share a word or two of your personal wisdom regarding the KMD lifestyle?

After my transformation 2 years ago, I find that my customers always ask how I achieved my transformation. I love telling them. I could talk for hours on the subject if I had the time. My customers often ask me to meet with them (some for pay) to teach them how to do it. Usually, I tell them that weight loss is only one small part of my transformation. It’s important to inform them that my health, vitality and energy are the amazing part, not just weight loss.  Since there are no longer any health issues that I had all of my life, such as asthma, they get interested.


To describe it simply, the energy never fails me. I don’t worry about my next meal because I am fat adapted and can go hours or days until my next meal with no crash. Mental acuity is also much improved. Problem-solving comes easier than ever before. My passion for self-improvement has always been strong, but this (keto) is so strong and my passion for what one can achieve because food is life-giving to me and others.

I am working on putting together my own brand of blogging for my customers, family and friends so they have access to info and inspiration at any time from someone they know and trust. Once it is put together and appealing, I will try to grow it to help the movement and help others as best as I can, as you do.

We’ll support Richard in any way we can 😉

Maybe we can share ideas later on developing our platforms to be even more effective. If I gain followers, then they can be yours as well. But I am in the early stages. I have developed much content and am ready to publish text and video soon. Video skills need work, but I am used to public speaking because of coaching as well as training large groups (300 or more) of students in various industries.

For now, I just freeze in front of a camera. I guess practice makes perfect. I always have loved helping people and will always develop myself more so that I can share more effective ways I have solved common problems or enhance life.

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