My weight problems began in my late teen years. Prior to that, I would go through phases of trying to eat healthily 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
10 months into my Keto journey and I feel amazing! I have lost 57 pounds and surpassed 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 weeks 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! Follow me on Instagram @thisisketolife for more tips and inspiration!
1. What tactics did you employ to help you get to your goal? What did you find helped you get to your goals best?
I believe starting a routine is a big part of what made me successful sticking to Keto and achieving my goals. I write my workouts into my daily planner, so they become part of my schedule, just like going to work or doing the laundry. I go to the grocery store twice a week on the same days every week. That way there is no chance of running out of Keto staples and not having the foods I need to be successful.
It also means I can break my weekly dinners into two shopping trips and I only have to plan out a few meals in advance. That helped me feel less overwhelmed than if I was pressured to plan the whole week’s meals at one time. It took a little time to get into the swing of things, but now that my routine is firmly established, it actually takes more thought and effort for me to go off of my normal eating and workout habits than it does to just stick to the plan!
2. What is the most impactful change you’ve made to your diet and why do you feel it’s been the most important?
Cooking my own food has made the biggest impact on my diet. Before Keto, I probably ate 95% of my meals from restaurants. Now that I cook my own food, I know exactly what I’m eating and don’t have to worry about hidden carbs or crazy portion sizes. And since it allows me to be in total control of each ingredient, I can choose the foods that work best for me and my macros and make sure I’m getting the biggest bang for my calorie and carb buck!
Through Keto, I’ve really discovered a new love for cooking and for trying out new ingredients and cooking methods. Plus, it has saved me a TON of money compared to eating out!
3. What is the best single piece of advice you can give to someone that is just starting out?
Commit fully for at least four weeks with no cheats. The most important thing that Keto has done for me is starve my sugar and carb cravings. Once that happened, all of a sudden my cravings and hunger levels were dramatically decreased. I believe that is the number one reason I’ve had success in losing weight and sticking to this way of eating.
When you can make food choices with a level head, it is much easier to make the right choices. But when my sugar cravings were out of control, I felt like I NEEDED certain foods and sticking to a healthy eating plan felt impossible. If you’re constantly having little cheats here and there, especially in the beginning, you are never allowing those cravings to fully die and you’re only cheating yourself! Once you have re-wired your body and mind to stop craving sugar, it’s like a switch has flipped and everything becomes a lot easier!
4. How do you feel your life is now that you’re at your goal?
I feel like I am finally living the life I was supposed to live all along. I have so much more confidence, not just in how I look, but about myself as a person. I am so proud that I was finally able to dedicate myself and achieve this goal I have wanted for so long, so that has given me the confidence to go into every other area of my life with my head held higher. I don’t feel like I’m hiding anymore. I feel proud of the person I am, inside and out, and I want the world to see that.
5. What do you consider the biggest change in your day-to-day life?
The biggest change is that my life doesn’t feel like it revolves around food anymore. I used to be the girl who was thinking about what I was going to eat for lunch while I was eating my breakfast! I was always thinking about food and when I was going to be able to eat next. Now I can easily go hours and hours without food and feel great!
That frees up so much time for other things – which is great because now I have so much more energy, I’m always up for going out and being active instead of sitting at home on the couch watching TV like before.
6. What did you do to find support throughout your journey?
I found that the people in the Keto community, in places like Reddit or Instagram, are so supportive! There are so many great people in the “Keto Fam” who are always willing to answer questions or lift you up when you need it. That support has been instrumental in helping me through my journey.
7. What do you currently do to manage your day-to-day diet?
Even though I have hit my goal weight, I continue to track all of my food on a tracker app so that I know I’m keeping my macros on point. I continue to read about the Keto diet and participate in the community so that I never allow myself to let my guard down and get “lazy.”
8. What is your favorite keto recipe from www.ruled.me that’s become a staple?
The low carb coconut shrimp from ruled.me is so good! It is one of my favorite weeknight dinners, and even my non-keto boyfriend LOVES it!
9. If there is one thing that you could do differently during your journey, what would it be and why?
I would have started sooner! I wasted so much time on bad diets or killing myself in the gym trying to lose weight. Even if I managed to lose some, it was never sustainable, and I would gain it all back (and more) within a couple of months. As soon as I found Keto, it felt like THIS is what I was supposed to be doing all along. I know I will never go back to eating the way I used to. I just wish I’d found it years ago!