My name is Gillian Bredenhann and I live in South Africa. I have been obese for most of my life. Approximately 3 years ago, I decided that I was tired of being unhappy. Tired of watching everyone swim in the summer days, but I was obviously self-conscious and not going to get into a bathing costume. Tired of having to buy size 24 clothing. Just plain tired.
I weighed 118kg at my highest. Initially, I started by eating low-fat meals, and really just cutting down on all the foods that all of us “professional dieters” know we must avoid. I began drinking more water, and after my initials loss of 20kgs, I started walking half an hour daily.
I managed to yo-yo up and down and followed every fad diet that passed my way, such as the 13 day Metabolism Diet, the Soup Diet, the Heart Institute Diet. You name it, I’ve tried it. I lost weight, but always gained some of it back, if not all. At the beginning of 2014, I made my New Year’s Resolution, of this being my last year of being overweight, (the same as the previous 30 years resolution by the way), and luckily I heard about the Ketogenic lifestyle from a friend. It involves you mainly cut out all sugars, carbohydrates, and starches.
A daunting thought at first, but luckily not anymore. I immediately did a lot of research and combined methods and recipes from the Paleo, Tim Noakes and Ketogenic lifestyles. I had heard that this way of eating is not compatible with everyone, but I was willing to make a last attempt. I started Keto way of life in January 2014.
My weight loss journey had its ups and downs, but I have successfully shed 56kgs. This is the first lifestyle where I never gained during the process of weight loss. The plateaus and stalls are to be expected, but the cm’s just kept falling away.
I just love the lifestyle. I think because I really enjoy fats in general, I don’t feel like I am being deprived of anything. It is like cheating in my brain and who doesn’t cheat when on a diet? So this lifestyle is so sustainable for me. To start on a size 24 pants and blouse and end up with size 8 is all the proof I need. The scale is a good indication, but my clothes are my guide.
I eat a very balanced, ketogenically calculated menu. I plan weekly meals according to fat and protein ratios, and keep carbs to 25g per day or less. If I knew, when I started, what I know today, the weight loss could have been quicker, but I had to learn from trial and error. Now that I am armed with the best method to lose weight, I love helping to motivate and support others.
Who wants to be fat and unhappy forever? LCHF is a lifestyle that needs preparation and planning, so I find it easiest to plan a menu for a week in advance. I do shopping to buy all the ingredients and foodstuffs at the weekend. Although some of the ingredients are costly (flours and oils), I am still saving on the grocery bill as there are no longer cool drinks, sugar-laden snacks or processed food in the trolley. Just real, fresh food.
My typical day with regards to food is a good hearty breakfast, consisting of fats and protein. e.g. Haddock in cream and butter sauce with half an avocado and boiled eggs or an omelet with bacon, avocado, and cheese. As I eat a big breakfast, I am not at all hungry during the day, and if I want to nibble or snack, it will be a handful of nuts, biltong or cheese. My supper with my family is mostly vegetables and a protein e.g. Grilled chicken with gem squash and zucchini noodles or Fish with cauliflower mash and salad. On the weekends, braaied meat with broccoli bake and mixed salad Or hamburgers (make a bread-like substitute using cream cheese and eggs.)
I totally understand the hurt, shame, lack of self-confidence that one endures as an overweight individual, and by inspiring just one person, I will have succeeded in my goal to assure them that that is not how life is meant to be lived. ABC of life is my mantra. Attitude, belief, and choice. Make your choices today!
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 set out weekly menu’s, for which I did the shopping on the weekend so that I had no excuse that I did not have the correct ingredients as set out on my meal plan. I rather ate fixed meals than waiting for hunger, as I don’t think my appestat works anymore after the years of yo-yo dieting. I would have a big breakfast, a mid-morning snack, a light late lunch and then supper. I stopped eating by 7 pm and nothing after that till breakfast.
2. What is the most impactful change you’ve made to your diet and why do you feel it’s been the most important?
I absolutely avoid all sugar items, whether it is hidden sugar such as condiments or spices or added sugars. No fruit other than berries.
I have learned to listen to my body. If ever taking a cheat, I would realize the symptoms thereof, such as bloating, headaches, tummy aches. Things I would never have noticed during the high-carb lifestyle. I am more aware of what I put into your mouth, and doublethink before cheating as it is not nourishment that my body needs.
3. What is the best single piece of advice you can give to someone that is just starting out?
Research, plan, and preparation. For me, preparation is an important part of this lifestyle. Winging it did not work for me, as the illegal carby foods are just too convenient to grab, instead of having lovely low-carb bread rolls, or boiled eggs or egg muffins ready and waiting.
4. How do you feel your life is now that you’re at your goal?
I almost find it harder to stay at goal than what it was to lose the initial weight. One tends to eat higher carb veggies or fruit, thinking that it is ok, but then the scale protests soon after, and one needs to go back to basics for quite a while to undo the damage. Other than that, I am more active, more confident, sleeping better, loving fitting into a size 8 blouse instead of a size 24 and the list can go on and on and on.
5. What do you consider the biggest change in your day-to-day life?
Realizing that we must eat to live, and not live to eat!
6. What did you do to find support throughout your journey?
Ruled me has always been a number one support website with all the great recipes and articles. When I started Keto in 2014, there weren’t all the fancy flours and butter that are available in local supermarkets like today. I am actually grateful for that, as I feel I fared better without the replicas and baked goodies.
However, it is great to be able to treat oneself now and then with a little sweet deliciousness by using Erythritol when one really has a craving.
7. What do you currently do to manage your day-to-day diet?
I ensure my Keto Cupboard is stocked with enough coconut oil, seeds, and nuts. I also love shopping for fresh vegetables and eat them with a protein every single evening. I have a HUGE supply of eggs, as whenever in doubt, they are my go-to Keto staple. Poached, boiled, baked, scrambled, mixed with mayo and omelets are so quick and easy.
8. What is your favorite keto recipe from www.ruled.me that’s become a staple?
Oh my word, there are so many, but I think the versatility of the pizza dough is simply amazeballs. From the snacks to the condiments are wonderful recipes to fall back on when one needs to be re-aligned with Keto eating. I know some people eat a meal and then no snacking is allowed, but I find I lose weight when eating small meals often instead of one or two large meals. So the snack section of the ruled.me website is a saved tab on my PC.
9. If there is one thing that you could do differently during your journey, what would it be and why?
Firstly, Keto is not a one size fits all type of lifestyle. What works for me, might need to be adjusted to work for someone else. If I had to start over, I would just allow myself to enjoy the journey to becoming healthier and happier. We tend to get stuck on the numbers of the scale and are too hard on ourselves when the weight does not decrease weekly. The mere fact that our clothes are fitting better and our family and friends are noticing the difference should be enough to motivate and keep one on track. This is not a race, it is a LIFESTYLE!