Putting the pieces together

Jigsaw is a harmony among the group will not be impossible.

“Honey, here’s your puzzle.”

My husband held up the 1000-piece puzzle I’d started during our two-week Christmas break, but gave up finishing.

“Thanks. It’s gorgeous,” I glanced at the photo. The cabin by the lake, the pier with a pair of ducks nearby and the porch swing made it somewhere I’d like to be.

I’d started the puzzle hoping the family would join me. Traditionally, we set the puzzle near the family room and work on it during lazy mornings, quiet afternoons, or while enjoying cozy evenings by the fire. Sometimes there’s only one of us working and sometimes there are all four of us as we all come and go in our leisure.

Working together the big picture emerges under our collective hands as we chat and laugh, sharing the labor and the success. What one person achieves belongs to all of us.

Life is more fun that way, even with low carb or keto. When someone joins us and shares our food, recipes, better health, or weight loss, not only is it more fun, but it helps us to keep going.

But no one had stopped to sit with me as I searched for edge pieces or built the puzzle frame. When I mumbled about that darn boat and the missing piece that would finish the hull, no one else was there to sort through the pieces with me.

I opened the box. There were still 1000 pieces, but this time they weren’t strangers to me, and I smiled as I carefully lifted out the few sections that had managed to cling together.

On my first attempt I had completed the edges, the car with the canoe tied on top, the path to the pier which was mottled with sunshine and shadows and the edge of the lake where there were smooth stones instead of sand at the shoreline.

The scene was as serene as the time I’d spent working on it. I was closer to finishing than I’d remembered. And I wondered why I gave up.

There were also those blasted ducks! This time they made me smile because they had frustrated me so. The colors were similar to the birds in the sky, and I had to learn to rely on the shapes of the pieces more than the images. I had yearned for someone to help me then, but gave up and joined my family.

Instead of 394 pieces to finish, there were now at least 847. I hesitated. Should I even begin again? If I started over, I had to be willing to go it alone without counting on anyone else to join me.

Why try again? It was relaxing, mostly, except for those ducks. The puzzle pulled me away from screens that occupy too much of my day. A form of meditation, it helped my mental clarity. Sometimes I found solutions or generated ideas while searching among the silent jigsaw pieces.

With a sigh, I began once more to carefully search for the edge pieces, reminding myself that while it felt like starting over, I was further along than the last time I started because I now knew what to do. The subtleties in the colors were familiar even where water seeped into the shore.

The puzzle reminded me of others who begin eating keto alone. They are initially excited and may do really well, but what if their family doesn’t join them?

Would I have continued on my own or would I have been lonely eating keto while they enjoyed different foods? Would I have given up the benefits I’d enjoyed while living keto, tossing it all back in the box and shelving it? Perhaps I’d be starting again or wanting to without support.

And if I had given up, would there be regrets? Perhaps I’d be frustrated with the progress I’d tossed aside. Instead of puzzle pieces to finish there might be a lot more weight to lose.

Every day some of you choose to sojourn alone in the struggles and in the triumphs of eating keto. Some decide to quit and join those eating a standard American diet. Maybe they also feel some regret for having given up or lost some of the progress they made.

But if you start again, it’s easier because you know how the first pieces of the puzzle fit together. You’ve made delicious recipes you’ve enjoyed and you can make them again. You might even have smaller clothes already waiting for you or health conditions you know would improve.

The day after I restarted the puzzle, my daughter came to sit with me. “I think that’s part of the red leaves up here on the tree and not down there in the bushes. Here, let me see it.” Her nimble fingers put the piece in place before my eyes could even see the difference.

“You’re right! Good job! Thanks. Now I need to sort these pieces as I see they don’t belong down here.” I said.

“Mom, I can do it for you. I’m not gonna work on this puzzle, but I’ll help sort these out for you,” she cautioned me. We worked in silence until a half hour later, when her brother joined us and the sibling teasing began and chuckles erupted.

A week later, the last 70 or so pieces are waiting for us. Those tricky ducks weren’t so hard to piece together the second time, and the birds are flying in perfect, interlocking formation after my daughter sorted the pieces.

Working together and sharing the experience connects us in ways that help us all achieve together. Why should eating keto or low carb be any different?

If you need more support eating a low-carb or keto diet, join our community! We have several opportunities for you to get connected.

First, we have three different plans you can join to give you daily support: The Get Started Keto Challenge, 5 Weeks of Keto with Kristie, and the 10-week Weight Loss for Good. You can even do all three in order!

Second, those with Diet Doctor Plus have access to our members-only closed Facebook group where we have 24-hour support from trained moderators and from members all over the globe.

Third, we have over 900 amazing low-carb or keto recipes to encourage your success! Keto is easier when you can truly love and enjoy what you eat.

Last, Diet Doctor gives you access to evidence-based information through guides, video courses, and podcasts that are all frequently updated. Knowing what to do and why is another important component of ongoing success.

/ Kristie Sullivan, PhD

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