How It All Started

My journey to the Camino began a long, long time ago in 1984 (when dinosaurs still walked the earth 🙂 ). I was working in the sports marketing department for Miller Brewing Company at the time (responsible for our sponsorship of the US Olympic Hockey Team) and I was sent to Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now called Bosnia-Herzegovina) for the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Sarajevsko-Olimpik-Pivo
I drank a lot of these in Sarajevo! It was like jet fuel… 16% alcohol!

I heard about the Camino from some random drunk guy from England in a bar in Sarajevo. He mentioned (after we drank many pivos) that he had walked the Camino de Santigo and said that it changed his life.

Intrigued by his tales, when I returned home, I headed out to the Milwaukee library (since Al Gore had not yet invented the internet) to research the Camino. I was fascinated by what I found and thought it would be a grand adventure to undertake. But life soon got in the way (went back to school for my MBA, got married, changed jobs, blessed with a great son…) and I forgot about the Camino.

Fast forward to late 2016, I was doing some planning for our upcoming summer vacation and I was Googling (yes that is a word) something about hiking adventures in Sedona, AZ, and the Camino showed up in the search. I clicked on a YouTube link and watched a pilgrim who just completed the Camino talk about their experience – it took me back 32 years to that dark smokey bar in Sarajevo and hearing that Brit talk about his adventures on the Camino. Instantly, I decided that it was time to do the Camino de Santigo.

Unfortunately, I was fat and out of shape. At the time, I weighed 220 pounds (100kgs) and realized I would have to lose a lot of weight if I was to do the Camino. I tried lots of diets in the past and failed every time:-(

The Keto Diet

So I did lots of research and decided to try something different and settled on something called the keto diet. During the summer of 2017, I lost 55 pounds (25kgs)! I lost all this weight without doing any real exercise (except I took the batteries out of the remote control and had to get up and change the TV channel 🙂 ) Here are few details about the diet:

  • The keto diet is a low carb, high-fat diet. Yeah, it seems weird, but it worked for me.
  • I get ~65% of my calories from fat, 30% from protein and 5% from carbs.

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  • The diet was created as a treatment for epilepsy in the 1920s. Besides treating epilepsy, the diet also resulted in weight loss. For decades this therapy was widely used until antiepileptic drugs were discovered in the 1950s. The diet went off the radar until the 2000’s when doctors realized that the keto diet could be used to treat obesity.
  • Here are some of the benefits I noticed while on the diet:
    • I find I never feel full right after eating… but I hardly ever feel hungry (up to 4-6 hours after a meal). If I wait 20-30 minutes after a meal, I will feel satisfied.
    • I find that I have excellent sustained energy throughout the day. (no super highs or super lows)
    • Mental clarity – Once my body was keto-adapted, my brain can effectively run on ketones, which are derived from fat breaking down in the liver. I find I have much better focus, less mental fog, and better concentration.
    • After about a week or two (if you have been very strict-no cheating-in ketosis), you should notice that you no longer have cravings for carbs.

So, 55 pounds lighter, I made the final decision to do the Camino in the fall of 2017. It is weird to think that I probably would not be doing this adventure had it not been for meeting a drunk Brit in Sarajevo.

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