Meet 52-year-old Anna Smith – founder and facilitator of Keto San Antonio, a local Keto community dedicated to creating a Keto support system in San Antonio
Anna lives a Ketone-powered full life with her husband and their forever sidekick, Stewie. The three of them work redesigning and remodeling houses. Aside from Ketogenics and nutrition, her heart’s passion is also telling visual stories through her art. She pursues her artistic endeavors painting somewhat intuitively using mixed media and acrylic.
Anna had a lifelong struggle with her weight. At a young age of 3, “dieting” had already been imposed on her. She was taken to “fat” doctors during her elementary years and was even given a pocket-sized calorie counting book and a small spiral journal to track food and count calories. She also received a paperback copy of the Royal Canadian Army Exercise Manual to have a structured list of exercises to follow. “I was taught from an early age the dieting protocol of calories in/calories out and believed that would be my ticket to health. Along with my early introduction to dieting, I developed a certain degree of self-value attached to the size of my body and others’ perceptions of me,” she shared.
Eventually, she began to experience cycles of weight loss and weight gain. When she was in high school, she secretly struggled with an eating disorder. Anna shared, “All I really wanted was to be loved. Body size, feminine beauty, and others’ opinions seemed to be intrinsically attached to receiving love. I managed to keep my weight down for a few years, but weight began to return to my body in the later years of college and began to really skyrocket with the loss of my father, followed by an abusive marriage. My eating was out of control and heavily consisted of “low-fat healthy grains”, pasta and fruits. That was what I thought was “healthy”.”
Anna frequently cycled in and out of weight loss programs, including Weight Watchers, but with short-lived success. She admitted that she was trapped in a confusing cycle of dieting and all those years of dieting had destroyed her metabolism. Anna weighed between 338 and 350 at her heaviest. She developed high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, skin issues, and depression. “Daily living was riddled with the pain of living in my huge body and I was miserable. I lived in isolation. Even though I was usually the largest person in the room, I regularly faced the reality of being invisible due to my size. My health was wrecked and I often felt hopeless,” she disclosed.
She then turned to calorie counting and extreme calorie deficit to lose weight. She lost about 100 pounds in this unhealthy way. This also led her to lose tons of hair and her gall bladder. Eventually, she hit the wall in weight loss and could not lose any more weight.
Anna came upon Keto in April 2017 in a JC Penny post on Facebook. There was a discussion about it and its healing potential for Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. It piqued her interest as she carries strong genetic markers for both diseases. She began reading about ketogenic and the Keto diet. On April 18, 2017, she took a leap of hope and faith and started her Keto journey. While she did not expect it to work on her, she was still hopeful.
The first 5 days of Keto living was difficult for her. She was exhausted from Keto flu and detoxification from carbs. During that time, she still did not know the importance of sodium and electrolyte supplementation while eating Keto. However, on the 5th day, she felt so different! “It was as though the heavens opened and the angels sang! My head was clearing! Depression that I carried daily with me was lifting and I felt so different! My weight was also rapidly dropping. I was just beginning my journey, but I was hooked on Ketones!” she proudly claimed.
She continued educating herself on ketogenic, hormonal responses to food and nutrition. She considerably healed her body through feeding and fueling herself properly. All those things that she suffered for before – chronic pain, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, insulin resistance, hypersensitive skin, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic digestive issues – have all disappeared! Food is no longer a source of shame, but became a source of healing and medicine for her body.
One setback that she had on her Keto journey was when she discovered that she has thyroid and metabolic issues. She used to feel extremely tired all the time and her sleeping habits were messed up. During that period, her weight loss was very slow to non-existent. Despite eating a clean ketogenic diet, she wasn’t losing any weight. Currently, she’s working on this for a few months now through strategic supplementation and other recommendations from her doctor. She also began a more rigorous exercise regimen that is really making a huge difference in how she feels.
Anna go-to Keto meals are bacon, grilled rib-eye steak, and grilled hamburger patties. Her almost daily dinner is homemade bone broth or Fond Bone Broth (a local broth company). She adds extra Celtic Grey Sea Salt or Redmond’s Real Salt along with avocado and cilantro for what she calls her “electrolyte soup.” For a variation, she often makes an egg drop soup by adding some slightly beaten raw egg to hot soup and letting the heat cook the egg and topping it with chopped green onion.
As the facilitator of Keto San Antonio, one of the very common mistakes she sees people make is trying to replace all their old bad food habits with ketofied versions of the foods that made them fat or unhealthy, to begin with. “Before they realize it, they are packing on the carbs and can’t understand why they aren’t losing. That just really is a slippery slope. Feeding food addiction leads to continued craving,” she mused.
Another mistake she noticed is counting Net Carbs over Total carbs. “Just count total carbs and try to keep them under 20 total carbs. If a person needs to transition to 20 total carbs, I think that is totally fine, but make that a goal. At some point in a person’s Keto journey, the Net carbs may likely slow down progress or result in a stall,” Anna shared.
- Count total carbs over Net carbs.
- Eat whole, single-ingredient foods as much as possible.
- Don’t neglect to supplement electrolytes especially sodium and magnesium. As a general rule, we should supplement sodium (with a quality salt like Redmond’s Real Salt or Celtic Light Grey Sea Salt) by at least an additional 2 teaspoons a day. This is in addition to salting one’s food. Fatigue is a sign of low sodium.
KETO SAN ANTONIO
Keto San Antonio is a local Keto community dedicated to creating a Keto support system and family in San Antonio. Anna Smith started the group in December 2017 when she found herself sometimes feeling alone and isolated from her family and friends who did not understand what she was doing eating Keto. She decided to invite strangers to her home for a “Keto meet-up” to talk Keto and share Keto food.
She wasn’t sure if anyone would come. Surprisingly, there were 26 people who signed up and 9 actually came during the first meet-up. Anna shared, “I greeted, welcomed, and listened as the little group came alive with excitement connecting on our ketogenic journey. In listening, I also became acutely aware that many of the sweet folks who came really didn’t understand keto or how to move forward. They had an idea, but there was a lot of confusion. I also noticed that not many of the ladies knew much about cooking real food. It occurred to me that possibly I could use the Facebook Group I had set-up for us to communicate what we were going to bring to the potluck as a forum to also help educate and bond our little group. I began sharing scientific studies I would read, recipes, and also my personal experiences with keto as well as answering questions our little growing community had regarding keto. To my surprise, Keto San Antonio began to grow! People needed a community as much as I did.”
Anna regularly organizes get-togethers for their community, picking different locations all around town to include as many people who would want to participate. She has always understood that there is strength in bonding together. She shared that she will continue to do her best to highlight individuals within the community and offer an opportunity for them to find their voice through sharing at live events and get-togethers as well as online in the Keto San Antonio Facebook group. “Knowing that I don’t have all the answers within my own experience I see the strength in highlighting others who have had success with keto so that the message as a whole rings true to even more folks. Having been an elementary school teacher and also an individual who suffered from childhood obesity, I have hoped that by helping to educate adults our younger generations will be taught proper nutrition and not have to suffer a life of weight and health struggles,” Anna parted.