Keto Confidence: How Changing My Diet Helped My Career
In 2016ish, I switched to a ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting at the suggestion of a few friends. Everybody does this differently, but for me specifically, this means I eat all my meals between 1 pm and 8 pm, focusing on eating plenty of healthy fats and very few carbs and sugars.
The changes I made to my food lifestyle helped me lose 30 pounds, seemingly without trying. My body shape transformed, bringing me back toward the body fat percentage I had in college as an NCAA Division 1 athlete.
In addition to the physical changes, other benefits helped increase my quality of life. I began feeling exceptional mental clarity, seemingly endless energy, and improved sleep quality that created tertiary effects like a better complexion and more stable moods.
My favorite hidden benefit: I now save a lot of time and energy because I'm not thinking as much about food or meals. So many people's days revolve around standard mealtimes -- if 1 pm passes and they haven't eaten lunch, they're probably talking about making a plan for lunch or food. And while I'm definitely ready to eat in the afternoon, it isn't an urgent need, and I don't feel "hangry" like I used to.
The Biggest Benefit
Being back in my “high-performance” body made me feel more confident, which helped me speak up and be more vulnerable in group settings. Over the last couple years, this directly led to a variety of new career opportunities, including key strategic roles in sales, business development and new business initiatives.
It’s hard to put my finger on why losing a few pounds so profoundly affected me.
When I'm not feeling confident, I tend to want to blend into the background -- to just get through it. When I'm feeling confident, I want to stand out, speak up and be heard.
I heard a phrase from Joe Polish that goes, "Little hinges swing big doors." The little things are the big things.
And for me, a “little thing” was being able to zip up a new designer outfit (from Rent the Runway) that flatters my figure. When I left the house feeling fabulous, I couldn’t wait to be seen and heard. My laugh got loud again, and instead of letting myself get interrupted or letting someone else lead the conversation, I was the mf'ing Queen of Hearts holding court.
That confidence, that swagger, made it easier to be vulnerable: it felt natural to share new ideas, ask tough questions, or lead tough conversations. I wasn't afraid of the earth-shattering consequences of being perfect -- I just wanted to contribute in whatever way I felt the interaction needed.
I was less focused on saying the right thing, and more focused on facilitating a productive conversation.
Turns out, that's how a leader operates. They give their teams hope, clarity, and certainty. They create an environment where it's okay to strive and fail, so long as you learn. They facilitate a better outcome.
And when you act like a leader, you begin getting opportunities to lead. For me, that meant leading core revenue generation roles -- business strategy, sales, sponsorships -- that I'd never led before. And it was a direct result -- a beautiful domino effect -- from feeling more confident.
Considering a major change to your food lifestyle? A few tips:
1. Experiment, experiment, experiment. Your body is constantly changing and evolving -- so should your diet. Track what you're trying, and the results, to get better data on what dietary habits work for you.
2. Do it for you. You don't have to tell a single soul about your dietary experimentation. Better yet, don't.
If you're asked directly, say, "I'm trying something different today." You don’t have to make it a thing -- just simply recognize that it isn’t any of their business.
If you have a close friend or confidante who follows a similar eating regimen, they can be helpful support when you feel tempted to stray or want tips. My best information, though, has come from my own research and reflection.
Another benefit of not sharing your dietary experimentation with the world: you won't have to explain yourself or defend your choices if you decide to switch it up in the future. After all, you're simply trying something different today.
3. Make it easy. No matter what diet you try, make it easy to follow. I chose to have meals pre-prepared and delivered -- which comes with its own costs -- because I noticed that when I have to prep, cook and clean every night, I quickly find reasons to get takeout.