Growing up, no one told me I needed to change (not seriously, at least). Coming from a Hispanic culture meant food, lots of delicious food. And if you were plump, you were healthy. And if you were healthy, you were supposed to be happy and that was all there was to it.
I didn’t feel the need to lose weight until one day I was making fun of someone for being “too skinny” (ironic right, shame on me) and I guess they got frustrated with me and said, “okay, well, stop being so fat!” No one had ever really said it out loud to me. And I didn’t want to hear it ever again.
So I started your typical diet of low calories, high cardio, and drinking nothing but water. Mind you, I was 17 and it was absolutely horrible. But I had a whole summer between my junior and senior year of high school and I was DETERMINED to change. I counted every calorie. I only consumed around 900 calories per day and ensured that I was burning around 600. I did it. I lost weight. I lost 30 pounds! But it’s a miracle I didn’t develop an eating disorder from that experience, honestly.
I managed to keep most of it off through senior year…then college came. I was having fun, going out to eat pancakes at 3 am, indulging in an adult beverage here and there, no cares in the world and...yep. You guessed it. The weight came back. Not all at once, but it came back. And by the end of my time in college I’d gained about 35 pounds.
As I started my adult life, I started to reorganize my priorities. I wanted to enjoy life, be happy, and most of all: travel. On one occasion I took a solo trip to Thailand that would probably be the turning point for my fitness journey all together. I realized that life had a lot to offer, and that if I wanted to enjoy it for as long as possible, I had to do something about my health. It wasn’t just about a number on the scale anymore.
At this point I was an avid runner. I’d run miles and miles on a treadmill, praying for change. In about 10 months I lost 20ish pounds. Pretty healthy weight loss overall but very frustratingly slow considering how many miles I was putting in on the treadmill. Something wasn’t right.
I stepped back and realized that my determination on the treadmill didn’t equal my determination in the kitchen and something had to change. I looked up different ways to lose weight and get healthy on the Internet and found lots of different options. Up to this point I’d tried calorie counting, excessive exercise, diet pills, magic teas, cleansing smoothies, but nothing really stuck and nothing really worked. I thought back to when I lost weight in high school and shuddered at the thought of counting calories to equal less than 900. No way, no thank you.
My research eventually (thankfully) brought me to the Ketogenic Diet. I learned about Keto in October of 2016 from a YouTube video and immediately said “nope, I can’t do that. I can’t give up bread forever and just eat bacon and eggs.” But as they say…”to get something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”
When I finally decided to give Keto a try, I dug deep into research. I spent an entire week just looking for things to eat, how it worked, what it meant, what I should expect, what I should prepare for, etc. I was sooo ready. And on December 28th, 2016 I began my Keto journey. And I went all in.
I started to see results pretty quickly and I just fell in love with Keto. I know that sounds cliché but it’s so true. Once I learned the basics, nothing about it was really that hard. I knew it was harder to wake up each morning as a version of myself that I wasn’t happy with. My life and food choices changed completely, starting with bun-less burgers all the way down to the sugarless drinks I now order at the bar.
Since I started, I’ve lost a total of 30 pounds with Keto, bringing my total weight loss to about 50 pounds. I went from a size 12/14 to a size 4/6. I continue to follow the Ketogenic diet and I love it because it has taught me so much about the food industry as well as my body and the food that I choose to fuel it with. It has taught me a lot about myself as well as the willpower and strength that I posses that has gotten me this far in my journey. It feels good to be in the skin I’m in and I have Keto to thank for that.
Through my Instagram (@sugarfreemelisa_) I try to make Keto look as easy and as delicious as possible, hoping to encourage someone new to give it a shot. Most days it is easy, but I won’t lie and tell you that you’ll never want carbs again. The best thing about Keto, however, is that there tons and tons of modifications for your favorite foods. The Keto community is seriously so creative!
I encourage anyone even slightly interested in the Ketogenic diet to do their research. I cannot stress that enough. I can sit here all day and ramble on to you about how great this way of eating is, but if you don’t put in the work and learn what is going into your body, there is no way that you are going to be successful, regardless of the health journey you choose.
My biggest tip: make a list of food that you CAN eat. Don’t focus on what you’re giving up. That makes it so much harder. (Just write ‘cheese’ at the top of the list, that’s what sold me on it.)
There are so many websites out there, just like this one, that can give you loads of information on how to follow the diet and that will help you determine if it is for you. Most importantly, you have to determine if it is a sustainable lifestyle for you, because if it isn’t, you will never stick to it. Keto is wonderful, but it is not a temporary fix. You have to know you’re in it for the long haul. After all, it’s a life style change, not a diet, amirite? :)