My Keto Story:

How I Created My Best Body, Health, and Life!

by Keto Coach Alexia Bjarkan

I grew up in the Swedish countryside. As a child, I was very much a dork. I didn’t have many friends, and I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I fantazised about the big, exciting world out there. Somewhere, far away, everything would be completely different for me one day…

I left home at the age of 15 to start my exploration in the “big city” of Gothenburg in Sweden. I started drinking soon after that and kicked off a few years of debacle. The discovery that I could use an external, such as alcohol, to alter my state of mind felt like the greatest gift. Feeling like myself was terrible, and I wanted nothing of it!

Leaving Sweden

My restlessness continued. I left Sweden the very next day after graduating from high school at age 18. I worked as a yacht stewardess for a while. My work field was exotic locations such as New York City, Miami, and all over the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

I found myself with a front-row view of the “rich and famous” and the glamorous lifestyle of my fantasies. I was surprised to notice that having all you could wish for externally did not necessarily result in inner happiness…

In my early twenties, I moved to Sydney in Australia to study business at university. Choosing a location as far away from my roots as possible felt like a logical choice, as I was still desperate to reinvent myself into someone else. Someone confident, happy, who felt good about herself – the opposite of who I was.

Around this time, I quit drinking. I’d put myself in many dangerous and horrendous situations with alcohol, and I’d concluded that continuing drinking was a risk to my life. However, that was not the reason why I finally quit. It was my embarrassing behavior when drunk that finally made me decide to get sober – I couldn’t stand living with the shame.

Without the alcohol to magically transform me any longer, I was just an insecure, dorky countryside girl again. It was excruciating. I didn’t understand: Here I was, in the “prime” of my life in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, beaches and hot rugby guys everywhere I looked, and still… Complete darkness inside of me. I simply couldn’t handle the uncomfortable feelings and turned to food to ease the pain.

Using Food to Medicate

What started was an eating bonanza that nearly ruined my life. Food quickly became my priority in life and my solution to every issue. Stressed about studying? A couple of chocolate bars made me relax. Upset about rejection from a guy? Ben & Jerry’s was there for comfort. Actually, any emotion – good or bad – was a reason to take to food.

My eating had an impact on every area of my life. I had terrible acne, a bloated stomach despite desperately working out at the gym six days a week, and constant diarrhea.

My mood was all over the place. I could be either ecstatic or completely depressed, and I had periods when I hardly slept at all. I isolated: I would often prefer staying at home watching Grey’s Anatomy with a sugar feast over attending a social event.

That being said, I was hardly a nun. In fact, I was just as destructive with men as I was with food. I was obsessed with the thought of finding happiness through a relationship and was desperately searching for it. My low self-worth resulted in a long string of more or less toxic encounters.

Appetite for Destruction

My binge eating was also expensive, and my mental state was not exactly conducive to sound financial conduct. I was terribly ashamed of being an adult who sometimes still had to rely on my parents’ support because I couldn’t manage my finances.

But that was nothing compared with the constant feeling of being out of control. The beautiful, exciting life that I had envisioned felt like a joke. I had managed to tick off visiting amazing places and getting my business degree, and it looked good on paper. But it was all falling apart very quickly…

After finishing university, I started a career in sales. Just like I had attempted to reinvent myself by moving between different countries, I now tried to pursue happiness through a corporate career. The sales profession was intoxicating: smashing my targets gave me such a rush. It was also stressful, with a lot of pressure. I dealt with it in the only way that I knew how: by binge eating.

“Bipolar Disorder” Diagnosis

Severe depressions had been a part of my life since my early teens. I had times of believing that they were behind me and that I had figured out how to be happy. But the low episodes kept coming back, and to worse degrees. I was now in my mid-twenties, and I was nearing exhaustion. I could not tell myself that everything would soon be fine any longer because it definitely didn’t seem that way.

One day, I simply couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I had no more hope or energy to continue – and I didn’t want to. My thoughts scared me.

I had asked for professional help at different stages before, but never felt heard or seen. I didn’t trust that there was a medical solution for me and thought I had to make it on my own. But now, I feared for my life.

I desperately called a psychiatrist and got an immediate appointment. When I told her about my madness, the doctor’s facial expression made me feel that the only thing missing for her entertainment was a bag of popcorn.

Going Downhill on Meds

I started taking the medication. Over the next few months, my world crashed down. The drugs didn’t help my mood and had horrible side effects: among them, weight gain and hair loss.

I was waking up every morning with big chunks of hair spread around me in bed. Although I was terrified of the medication, I didn’t dare to stop taking them. I tried to contact the doctor, and she didn’t return my calls. I felt like the loneliest person in the world.

It hit me that I couldn’t take care of myself any longer. I wasn’t capable of performing a job, and my finances were in ruins after years of erratic behavior. I had nothing to my name, and I was in a foreign country with no real safety net. Panic gripped me.

I realized that I had no other choice than to give up on my Australian dream and return to Sweden to seek refuge at my parents’.

It was a strange situation. On the one hand, it was devastating to lose the life that I had worked so hard for during my six years in Australia. I had dreamed that this was the place where I would create a safe place for myself and finally find happiness… Sydney was where I had made most of my friends, who meant so much to me. Now I had to leave it all behind.

On the other hand, it was a relief to end the struggle. I had no more energy to get up in the morning and pretend that everything was fine when I was literally dying.

A Visit to the Psych Ward

I got rid of my household, said my goodbyes, packed my suitcase, and flew back to my parents in Sweden. A decade after leaving home with my grand dreams, I was back to square one – I felt like such a failure.

I also felt lonely. Everyone around me seemed to have their lives figured out, and I couldn’t even manage the basics of surviving… I spent a week locked up in an emergency psychiatric ward. Although that might sound like rock bottom, I was relieved to finally be honest about how sick I was.

After release from the hospital, I stayed with my parents. It was a difficult transition since I struggled with hiding my compulsive overeating. My parents didn’t exactly support my self-destructive behavior, and it was a tense time.

I was determined not to give up on myself. I could accept that my life might never be the rose-colored version I had imagined growing up. But I would not kill myself. And I would not end up living with my parents, hiding chocolate wrappers like a junkie.

I had a few weeks of rest in the Swedish countryside, while I applied for sales jobs in London, England. At this stage, I had no more illusions about finding nirvana anywhere in the world. All I wanted was a job in a new city so that I could move on with my life. I got another sales role and moved to London.

Starting Over in London

My new assignment was with a top IT firm, and I felt like I had “made it.” I was so proud of my new business card with the company logo. This was my chance to redeem myself!

However, my excitement was short-lived. After my first prescription drug disaster, I had started taking a new medication to help with my mood and sleep. It definitely helped my sleeping: it knocked me out so much that I felt like a zombie during the day.

I was struggling to keep up at work. It was a fast-paced environment, and I had a lot to learn in my new role. It felt like my brain was processing everything in slow motion, and all I wanted to do was to crawl under my desk and take a nap. People around me were bright and successful, and I just felt so dumb. I noticed how some colleagues treated me as incompetent, which was extremely hurtful.

Feeling Like an Idiot

My mental health issues had caused a lot of embarrassment over the years, but being treated like I was stupid was on a different level. I have hardly ever felt this humiliated. The worst thing was that I started to believe it myself: it was true that I wasn’t doing a good job. I was basically forced to quit my role, only weeks after I had started.

I believe that I have a Lucky Star, and this is an example of when I’ve felt its presence in my life. Because around this time, I was headhunted for and offered a similar role in another company. I first declined, as I had decided to give up on my mental abilities and move back with my parents.

But last minute, I had a feeling that I should try just once more. So I decided to stay in London, accepted the offer, and started my new role.

Saved by Butter in the Coffee

The turning point came by chance. I was listening to a podcast interview with Dave Asprey, the founder of the Bulletproof Coffee and the Bulletproof Diet. Coffee with butter in it sounded strange to me, and I was skeptical, to put it mildly.

I was still desperate enough to try a cup. At least it couldn’t make things worse. It didn’t – Bulletproof Coffee blew my mind! I felt an unprecedented clarity and aliveness, and a strong sense that this would change my life forever. I dived into researching the Bulletproof Diet and lifestyle and implementing as many elements as fast as I could over the next few weeks.

During my years of overeating, I had, for most of the time, had an awareness that my eating wasn’t healthy. I realized that sugar had terrible effects on me, and I desperately wanted to quit my food addiction. I just didn’t know how.

The process of quitting overeating turned out to be a nightmare every time. I had to use all my willpower to stay away from the junk food. Still, the temptations and my cravings always won in the end.

A New Way of Eating

The Bulletproof Diet was a different way to eat altogether. It’s a variation of the keto diet, which results in satiation and relief of food cravings. This change in my body chemistry meant that I didn’t have to force anything anymore. The sugar and carb cravings that had haunted me for so many years were gone. I, who could not imagine a life without Lindt’s chocolate balls, now realized that there were even healthy desserts that I preferred over junk food.

The impact of my new eating habits was incredible. My insomnia disappeared, and I could sleep well for the first time in years. My mood swings settled, and the depressive feelings lifted. Instead, I discovered a new sense of calm and wellbeing.

My psychiatrist was amazed and realized that my diagnosed bipolar disorder was incorrect, as I no longer showed any symptoms. I came off my medication and was relieved of its side effects: I dropped my excess weight, and the hair that I had lost started to grow back. I had never felt better. It felt like being reborn to a new, fantastic life!

After all of my years in pain, I was ecstatic about finally making progress. I couldn’t get enough! I set out on a mission to give my recovery my all, to achieve the most optimal health and wellbeing possible.

Finding My Passion

It’s funny how life works out sometimes. Only weeks after I’d had my first cup of Bulletproof Coffee and instantly felt that it would change my life, the Bulletproof Coach training program launched. I jumped at the chance to participate. Nothing was more important than learning how to help others find health and wellbeing too!

I found myself in New York City for the first coaching workshop a few months later. It was my first time back in the city since my time as a stewardess a decade earlier, and what a different person I was now…

I had the best weekend of my life up until that point. It was simply wonderful to find togetherness within the Bulletproof community: other individuals also passionate about improving their health and helping others. I felt such love for them all!

Everything came together in an almost magical way. At the Bulletproof Coach workshop, I made friends with a guy from Hawaii, and we shared our best health hacks. He told me that the most powerful thing he’d ever tried was the Wim Hof Method. It was part breathing method, part cold exposure, and part focus.

Creating My Health Toolbox

At this point, I was amazed by the results only from changing my diet. Thanks to my keto eating, I didn’t suffer from food cravings any longer. I had once been a slave to junk food, and now I felt physically liberated.

However, all of my years of compulsive overeating had strongly reinforced my behavior. Periods of healthy eating were followed by episodes when I couldn’t stay on track. I was still in a stressful sales role, and I found it difficult to deal with the pressure. I often returned to my old habit of overeating as a way to escape and soothe myself.

In a way, this was almost more heartbreaking now after I had found a diet that worked for me. I was scared: What if I was a hopeless case, and could never learn to eat healthily?

What I now know is that there is no single solution that will magically solve all of my issues forever. Instead, there is a toolbox of hacks that I can use to sustain my healthy habits on a daily basis.

The keto diet laid the foundation for my healthy eating by relieving me of the food cravings and making me feel great physically. What I now needed was resilience to stay on track with my new way of eating. The Wim Hof Method turned out to be key for this.

Submerging in Ice

Returning to London after the Bulletproof Coach training workshop in New York, I tried out the Wim Hof breathing for the first time. The guy from Hawaii had been right: It was an incredible feeling! I felt euphoric.

I then started the cold exposure, through starting each morning with a quick cold shower. At first, I was freaking out. I had always despised the cold, which was one of the reasons why I had escaped all the way from Sweden to Australia. But I quickly got used to it and carried on.

After a couple of weeks of cold showers, I took the next step by tapping up an ice bath in my bathroom. It was terrifying; the sensation was incredibly uncomfortable – but the feeling afterward was amazing! I felt so alive and refreshed. I was so proud of myself for having faced up to the challenge!

Ice bath at Wim Hof’s centre in Holland.

Climbing Snowy Mountains Half-Naked

My cold exposure exercises had a quick and profound transformative effect. I believe that it was the new habit of starting each day with facing a fear, that trained my resilience. I realized that I’m so much stronger than I’d thought I was.

Within weeks, I was able to use this strength in the area where I struggled the most: my eating. I experienced the same stress and challenges as per usual at work, but now I was able to resist reaching for some chocolate to stuff my feelings. It felt like a miracle, and yet it had all happened so naturally!

Just as with the keto diet, I wanted to know everything about the Wim Hof Method. I enrolled in a course to become a Wim Hof Method Instructor and flew to Holland to train with the founder Wim Hof in person. We also traveled to Poland in the winter and climbed snowy mountains with as little clothes as possible, in my case, a sports bra and shorts. One of the most challenging experiences of my life, but incredibly empowering!

Transforming by Eating

Just as my illness had crippled every area of my life, my recovery now made every part flourish. I was in my prime! I was happy, laughing – I even did a stand-up comedy course in London.

My skin was glowing. My hair grew back, fuller than ever before. I lost my excess weight and loved my fit, lean body.

As my mood leveled out, my relationships improved. Not having tantrums turned out to make a wonderful difference. I had a new sense of self-worth, which was the beginning to the end of my destructive behavior with men.

My new energy and drive had an incredible effect on my career: I aced my sales targets and tripled my income within a year. I had so recently lost everything, and now I experienced abundance! It felt like a dream.

My Rebirth

I continued my quest to improve my health and wellbeing. I didn’t hold back. No matter the cost or effort required: if it made me feel better, I did it.

Traveling to the Alps, I did a week of advanced neurofeedback training. Going to Los Angeles, I attended the Bulletproof Conference to listen to the world’s top health hackers. I bought countless gadgets for improving sleep and increasing energy. I even changed my last name to Bjarkan, which is a Viking runestone meaning “rebirth.” Because that is exactly what it felt like!

Career-wise, I was at the top of my game. Just like I had dreamt about, back in Sydney… Now, I realized that it didn’t matter anymore.

I’d had a burning desire since my first cup of Bulletproof Coffee, and I couldn’t contain it any longer. It felt impossible to now know the effectiveness of simple and natural methods for alleviating suffering, and not share it with others. I wanted to help!

Starting My Mission

I quit my corporate job, packed one suitcase with the essentials and gave away the rest, and started traveling while starting my new career as a keto coach. It will sound cliche, but I think I wanted to finally please that little dorky Swedish schoolgirl who had been dreaming about exciting adventures in the big world.

I’d been around the block, for sure, but my unstable mood had always clouded my experiences. It was a great sorrow that I had visited so many beautiful places without fully enjoying them. I promised myself to now make up for the lost time!

Unfortunately, my travels didn’t quite become the adventure that I had dreamed about. Instead, I kept experiencing extremely low points. By now, I knew for sure that I didn’t have bipolar disorder. But something wasn’t right. I was taking good care of myself, and I was eating well. So what was wrong with me? I had no idea, and I’d literally been around the world to find out. I wasn’t sure if there was a solution for me, and I was running out of energy to keep trying.

Opening My Mind to Psychedelics 

During a visit to Cape Town, I’d seen a psychologist. She suggested that I’d try plant medicine to heal my long-term mood issues. I was taken aback by her suggestion. Since quitting drinking nine years earlier, I’d been adamant about protecting my sobriety. I was terrified of doing anything mind-altering and becoming a junkie as a result.

But my psychologist explained how plant medicine, such as ayahuasca, isn’t addictive. Although illegal and controversial in most Western nations, it’s been used for thousands of years as a traditional medicine in South America. There is even scientific research proving that plant medicine has a positive effect on psychological disorders such as depression and PTSD.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned during my years of health issues, it is to keep an open mind and listen to people who know more than I do. Here was a highly educated psychologist, who I also really liked and trusted. And I had nothing to lose – I had now had recurring suicidal thoughts for half of my life. I realized that if I didn’t find a solution, I might eventually kill myself.

Healing in the Jungle

A few months later, a friend told me about his incredible healing experience at an ayahuasca retreat center in Costa Rica. It felt like a sign: I had to go there!

So I went for a week at the retreat, which included four ayahuasca ceremonies. In a nutshell: it was the toughest thing I’d done in my entire life, times a million.

I thought that no experience could ever be worse than being suicidal. But that was before I was on a hallucinogenic trip to a different dimension in the middle of a Costa Rican hurricane, trying my best not to shit my pants while shaman music sounding like “OMPI LOMPI, OMPI LOMPI!!!” was screaming in my ears.

No words can describe the utter horror I felt during that ceremony. But on the other side of that was liberation. Because when the medicine effects subsided, and I somewhat came to my senses again, an über-strength out of this world filled me.

My 2.0 Life

I was beyond grateful for having survived the trip from hell and for having this beautiful opportunity to have a life. I felt like a force of nature! Having gone through that hell, I was in awe of myself for my bravery. (Not there is exactly a “STOP” button when you start a hallucinogenic trip.)

The low self-esteem that had always haunted me was gone, as in magic. I was strong and brave; how could I ever feel shit about myself again? I was awesome! And those insecurities that used to plague me, like “Will I ever be good enough for a guy?!” seemed so ridiculous now. The only thing that mattered was that I was alive, and I just couldn’t wait to start my life 2.0 and make the most out of it.

I’ve definitely had tough times after my plant medicine ceremonies. Perhaps they’ve mainly been a result of my previously erratic rollercoaster-life: I’ve had to deal with the consequences of years of not having made the best decisions for myself. I’ve been terribly sad over still being on my own in my early thirties, I’ve been in a complete panic over my finances (my worldwide mission to “fix” myself hasn’t exactly been cheap), and the list goes on.

But that’s life: sadness is part of it. The big difference for me now is that my low feelings are not taking over so that everything feels pointless. And now when I’m healthy and well, I’ve got every opportunity to create the life of my dreams – and that’s what I’m doing!

My Passion: Helping Others Live Their Best Lives!

Healing and getting rid of the void inside of me opened me up to a whole new world. During a visit to Dubai in 2017, I recognized the opportunity to help people get healthy on keto in the region, where excess weight is widespread. I joined a medical clinic in Dubai, where I worked alongside world-renowned doctors to help patients optimize health and weight. 

After a year of clinical experience, nature was calling me… A stressful city life just didn’t feel right anymore. Therefore, I packed my bags once again at the beginning of 2019 and moved to Costa Rica, the place where I’d had my most powerful healing experience.

So here I am, in the jungle. I work remotely with clients all over the world. I’m pursuing my passion of helping people create their best bodies, health, and lives on keto – just like I wanted from my first cup of Bulletproof Coffee. My dream of living in a sunny, beautiful place finally came true. But most importantly, I’m healthy and happy, and I’m truly grateful for my life.

Thank you for reading my story. Now, I would love to hear yours too. Share it with me!

Alexia Bjarkan
Keto Coach