I found Keto and changed my life!
My weight problems began in my late teen years. Prior to that, I would go through phases of trying to eat healthy or working out, but I never really had to worry about my weight. However, as I got older and started experiencing heartbreak and real-life stress, I started turning to food for emotional comfort. Burying my emotions in comfort foods and too many trips through the fast food drive thru resulted in my weight going up. So I started counting calories and eating low fat foods to lose the weight. However, restricting my calories and food choices only resulted in the cravings getting stronger, so inevitably, I would give up and go the other extreme – binging on all the foods I had considered off-limits on my diet. I spent 15 years on the yo-yo diet rollercoaster. I was always either on a diet or OFF a diet. And being off a diet meant eating everything I could possibly think of (and as much as I wanted) until I got the motivation to start a new diet plan. Not surprisingly, this only resulted in more and more weight gain and less and less hope that I would ever find the answer to my weight problem.
A turning point
At 31 years old, 5’3 and 180 pounds, I found myself at the heaviest weight of my life. My last couple of diet attempts were fruitless unless I went to extreme measures (juice fasting and intense exercise). I felt like I was fighting against my body and I just couldn’t seem to lose any weight. I was convinced that all those years of yo-yo dieting had finally messed up my metabolism like everyone said it would, and maybe my body just wasn’t capable of losing weight anymore. I had pretty much given up hope of ever feeling happy with my body and thought maybe I just had to resign myself to being overweight. But for some reason, I decided to try one more time. On a random Wednesday, I was trying to decide what fast food restaurant to go to for lunch, but nothing sounded good. I remembered I had some chicken and salad mix in my fridge and decided I would just make a salad. In previous diet attempts, I always planned my start date ahead of time so that I could binge on all the “bad foods” the night before. But this time, it wasn’t planned, it just happened naturally. I had already eaten a toaster pastry for breakfast that morning, but instead of deciding I should start my diet the next morning, I just decided to make a healthy choice for lunch like it was no big deal. That night, I had a late class and had already made a plan to get a burger and fries on my way home. But at the last minute, I decided I would stop somewhere for a taco salad instead. The next morning, I decided that since I was already making healthier choices, I would start tracking my calories and carbs in MyFitnessPal just to see where I was. From there, I made a conscious effort to keep my calories and carbs low.
Keto to the rescue!
I had followed low carb diets many times in the past. I typically ate low carb and low fat because I figured that was the best of both worlds in terms of dieting and how could it not work? (Spoiler alert – it didn’t!) But at some point earlier, through online research about other low carb diets, I happened across the Keto diet. I always had it in the back of my mind, but never attempted to keep my carbs that low. This time around, I decided I might as well give it a try. I started counting calories and kept my net carbs at 20 or below. Then I found an online Keto calculator and used it to calculate my macros. I decided if I was going to make this last attempt to lose weight, I was going to go all out and make sure I was doing everything right, so that if it didn’t work, I would know it wasn’t due to lack of effort. Very quickly I noticed a difference from previous weight loss attempts. I wasn’t sure if it was the higher fat or the lower carb, but I wasn’t feeling ravenous like I normally did on diets. Foods like bread or french fries might have sounded good, but I didn’t feel like I NEEDED them. This was a whole new experience! Week after week, my cravings diminished and my hunger was greatly reduced. I naturally started intermittent fasting before I even knew what that was because I just wasn’t hungry when I woke up in the morning. So I gradually started pushing my first meal of the day later and later until I wasn’t eating “breakfast” until late in the afternoon. The weight started coming off almost every week and my hope of having the body I wanted was being restored.
I always had an all or nothing approach to working out in the past, but this time I wanted to do it in a way that I could maintain. I was tired of being on the diet rollercoaster, so I knew I needed to figure out something that would be sustainable long term. Plus, I had completely changed the way I was eating and the fuel my body was using for energy, so I wanted to take it easy and allow my body to adapt. I started out just walking on the treadmill and slowly increased my speed and distance over the coming months. I have learned that weight loss is primarily diet, so I trusted in Keto to do most of the work. That allowed me to not put so much pressure on myself to burn every calorie I could at the gym. Instead, I learned to use the gym as a time to recharge and I started to enjoy my workouts a lot more.
Ups and Downs
Losing weight is rarely linear, so I’ve had plenty of weeks in my journey where I didn’t lose any weight. It’s tough to step on the scale after a week of working hard and not see results. But our bodies are amazing things and we never quite know what’s going on in there! To combat that disappointment, I started taking monthly progress pictures. This really helped me to see the improvements I made when the scale wasn’t cooperating, and it has been fun to go back and see how my body changed over time.
It can be hard to discipline yourself on any diet, workout routine, or lifestyle change in general. And Keto is no different. I definitely have days where it feels challenging to stick with this way of eating. It takes a lot of work and commitment to cook almost all of your meals, look for new recipes to keep from getting bored, and shop for all of your ingredients. After a stressful day of work, sometimes I feel like I want to throw in the towel and order a pizza. But the physical and emotional feeling I get from eating ketogenically and being comfortable with my body stops me from doing that. It just isn’t worth it. Eating those foods in the past never made me happy, and I never want to go back to how I felt before.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
I am over 8 months into my Keto journey and I feel amazing! I have lost 52 pounds and am very close to my goal weight! I seriously never thought it was possible for me to be at this weight again. I had all but given up hope of being happy with my body, but I am so thankful that I decided to give it one last try on that Wednesday afternoon, and so happy I found the Keto way of eating. I feel so much more confident in my everyday life now. I don’t feel like I’m hiding beneath my weight anymore. And that alone is my motivation to keep on going. I am Keto for life!
Tips & Tricks
My biggest advice to anyone wanting to start the Keto diet is to commit to at least four week with no cheats! The goal is to starve those sugar and carb cravings so that they go away! But if you are constantly having a cheat here and there, you are keeping them alive and just making it harder on yourself. The key to me being able to stick with this way of eating was the fact that my cravings and my hunger diminished so much. I no longer felt like food had power over me. So you really have to restrict those carbs consistently so that your body can switch over to burning fat for fuel.
Once you have committed, get excited! There is so much great food to be had on Keto! Don’t focus on what you will be giving up, but look at all the great options you have. There are so many Keto recipes available for pretty much anything you may be craving. So instead of cheating, put in a little extra effort and experiment with ways to Keto-fy your favorite foods!
Take it day by day. It can be overwhelming to get started, but all you have to do is make sure you stay under your macros today. And then, do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And before you know it, you will be seeing some great results! Finally, perfection is the enemy of progress. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to have more good days than bad. And most of all, don’t give up! You will get there if you just keep trying. And one more thing – take a before picture! You will love being able to look back at it and see how far Keto has taken you!