low carb transformation : angela

I feel like I’ve been on a diet my whole life. Obesity runs in my family, and I grew up without any real idea about nutrition or making healthy choices. From childhood into adulthood I’d make meal choices based on taste and I’d stress eat and binge all the time, going for fast food and frozen pizzas, filling my plate with carbs and little vegetables. Every few months my mom and I would try to diet. The first one was Weight Watchers around the 4th or 5th grade, then again around middle school. In high school we tried the South Beach Diet and Mediterranean diet. College was calorie counting which turned into a mix of anorexia followed by binging on the weekend. I’d follow these diets for a month or so, see little progress, figure out how to cheat the diet and eventually snowball back to where I was, sometimes gaining a little more.

After graduating college I became depressed while I struggled to start a career as an artist. I wasn’t making much money, and what I did make I’d spend on my favorite junk foods, going out late at night and just buying everything on the dollar menu. I also got into cooking and started making a lot of carb heavy dishes like mac and cheese or enchiladas. I stopped looking at the scale. Then one day my feel started to hurt, and for days the pain wouldn’t go away. I was on the couch unable to walk. I went to the doctor and found out I had achilles tendonitis. Just walking around the house was wearing down my body, and I’m sure at the time I was super inflamed too. I also found out I was 210 pounds, I’m only 5ft 1in so I looked a lot larger than that sounds.

Around this time a friend from college was beginning crossfit. He wanted to help me get my confidence back and get healthier and recommended I try it. I saw how over just a few months it transformed him so I gave it a try and started taking classes twice a week. I had never really done exercise before, usually I avoided it, and I was very out of shape. I finished 3 months of it, but I never changed my diet, and my coach kept recommending I try paleo. So, on January 1st 2013, I did the whole 30. At the end of the first month I got back on the scale and saw I lost 15 or so pounds. I never made that much progress so quickly before, and I kept it up, slowly over a year I got down to 165 pounds. I stayed there for a little, but when I started focusing on muscle building I got to 173 pounds and floated around there for a few years.

I tried all the tricks to break a plateau, everything from calorie counting, to only eating carbs post workout. At one point I was doing crossfit 4 times a week, and 2 hours of cardio every day. Even with a large calorie deficit the scale remained the same. Every few weeks I’d get discouraged and again binge on whatever ice cream was on sale, or grab one of those crazy desserts you see on buzzfeed and just dive into it.

Early June of this year, I went on a cruise. I did nothing but drink alcohol and eat for a whole week. I had to get my money's worth. Coming back from the trip I was 181 pounds, for the rest of June into July I was working out again, eating some carbs post workout, and that number only lowered to 176 pounds. That same friend who introduced me to crossfit mentioned a book, “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes and suggested I read it. While reading Gary sites a bunch of studies and scenarios where people were in my same situation, exercise and dieting had no effect on them, and pointed out that genetics, hormones, gestational diabetes, and other factors influenced how to body uses fat. I was insulin resistant, even eating low carb, my body would store it as fat rather than use it as fuel. He suggested a no carb diet like the ketogenic diet, and I once again just went cold turkey and jumped into eating this way.

I was a bit slower at the gym my first two months, but the pounds just melted off. The first month was crazy, I got down to 163lbs. Then in September I was at 156lbs, I hadn’t seen that number since middle school! Now I’m currently at 145lbs, a number I didn’t think was ever possible. I went from a size 12/14 to an 8/10. I had chronic migraines and haven’t had any in months. My skin cleared up, no more chin acne unless I eat a lot of dairy. I found my cravings for carbs and sugar just disappeared by the third week, now I’m no longer triggered to eat when stressed or craving something when I’m bored. No more binging, even when I cheat. My old sleep schedule was me trying to fall asleep and eventually doing it by 3am, then struggling to wake up around 8:30 for the gym. Now I feel tired around 10 and pass out within 20 minutes of lying down. Recently I went to get my yearly physical, my doctor didn’t recognize me, and we were both a little shocked when I found out my LDL cholesterol dropped 20 points despite eating butter and eggs every day.

I’ve started to develop a routine because I want to make this a lifestyle, not a diet. I go to crossfit then do half an hour to an hour of elliptical at another gym. I eat around noon and usually do some kind of a brunch plate with eggs cooked in butter, with a side like bacon or kielbasa, sometimes a sprinkle of cheese, and something green like a vegetable or chunk of avocado. I’ll eat an early dinner before 7 which is a protein like grilled chicken or more eggs and half a plate of more green vegetables. I sprinkle a little salt on everything and I have 2-3 spoonfuls of coconut oil a day to keep my fat intake high and feel full. I’ll fast from the evening to the morning, getting 16-19 hours a day, but I’ll drink some coffee with heavy cream or have a spoonful of coconut oil sometimes during the fast, it helps me not feel hungry and helps improve my thinking. I’ve cheated maybe 4 or 5 times since going keto, but I make it a cheat meal not a cheat day. I make it a rule to not have my favorite junk foods in the house and to only cheat on a holiday, and only have a serving of whatever I’m eating. When I go out to restaurants with people my go-to dish is a bunless burger with bacon and avocado on it and a side salad, or some kind of omelet. It’s rough to resist food around people, to help with that I eat a large fatty meal before I go to a party, and I usually bring an iced coffee with heavy cream in it which keeps me satisfied. I found eating the same food every day helps keep me from going off track, and meal prepping is key to fighting temptation.

Since going keto I’ve inspired a few of my friends and family to give it a try. I started an instagram (angelaeatslesstacobell) to help keep my accountable and give others ideas on what to eat with daily meal pics. The only unfortunate side effect of keto is I had to empty out most of my closet, nothing fits anymore, even leggings are baggy, and sadly I went down a bit in my bust. It’s so weird going into a store, putting on a large and finding it's too large. Keto has not only helped my lose weight, it has helped my figure out how my body works, it has boosted my confidence, and helped bring more positivity back into my life.

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