After nearly 4 years clean from drugs and alcohol, I had switched addictions to food and put on around 200 lbs. In the end, I weighed just north of 400 pounds and was facing bariatric surgery, when I had this sort of breakthrough epiphany (after a dark moment of suicidal depression, and a few weeks later this chance encounter with a beautiful female friend from high school) where I realized that I was in control of my life; I was the one who got myself into this situation, and therefore could be the only person to get myself out of it.
I had never heard of keto per se, but used a modified form of Atkins, ensuring I got no more than 20-30g of carbs a day. After a month of this coupled with an intensive walking routine, I was amazed to discover I had shed over 40 pounds. Within a year, I had got down to 220. I still have the old Facebook posts to prove it ha! This was a few years ago, but I have taken my weight down to it’s lowest ever (180) in that time, before balancing out at 200.
Quite simply, keto saved my life, and I am immeasurably happier today than I was during that dark time of my life, before I discovered this new way of approaching my diet and health. BTW, the photo below is really only an “after” photo, because unfortunately I didn’t allow many pictures to be taken of me at my peak weight (lots of shame). I hope that’s alright.
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 made sure to clean out all my carbohydrate-laden and sugary foods from my apartment right off the bat. In this way, not only was I ensuring that I wouldn’t be tempted to “snack” or “cheat” (really, euphemisms for lapsing back into a pattern of unhealthy eating) but also that image of all my old food in the trash was a powerful motivator. It was symbolic of the changes I was making, and of the person I was before, being cast aside.
As for what helped me reach my goals the best, tracking my weight consistently was huge; similarly, measuring my waistline as it shrunk. Because I was so heavy, the changes I underwent were pretty dramatic but it was also a difficult battle at times so the visible proof of keto’s effectiveness really helped to push me through those rough spots.
2. What is the most impactful change you’ve made to your diet and why do you feel it’s been the most important?
Not viewing carb-rich food as “comfort food” anymore has been a tremendous shift. There was absolutely nothing comfortable about being over 400lbs; in fact, it nearly drove me to suicide and to an unnecessary bariatric surgery I had very nearly almost fooled myself into undergoing.
A ketogenic diet can be amazingly diverse and delicious, and once you learn some of the basic building blocks of maintenance, it is surprisingly simple to adhere to… even when eating out at restaurants with friends. Also, learning to love water again, especially sparkling water for a refreshing alternative to soda.
3. What is the best single piece of advice you can give to someone that is just starting out?
I would say to expect the impossible, and implore them to “not give up 5 minutes before the miracle happens.” If I can lose just under 200lbs in about a year, then there can be no doubt that their goals are absolutely attainable. But it is crucial that they remain steadfast in their pursuit of them because ultimately they are the only person in charge of their body (and what goes into it). Nobody but me made myself morbidly obese, with a 54″ waist. Therefore, I was the only person capable of escaping that situation. And the fact that I did proves that they can, too.
4. How do you feel your life is now that you’re at your goal?
I mean, it isn’t even a fair comparison. To go from not being able to fit in the desks at my university, and putting my revolver in my mouth before sobbing on the floor in a fit of depressed self- hatred, to the confidence that comes with approaching a problem head-on, fighting against it, and prevailing? It has been an incredible journey and opened so many more doors in my life. Before, I was utterly ashamed of myself and thought things like intimate relationships were just not in the cards for me.
Today, I get to be in a loving, committed partnership with an amazing and beautiful woman, which I honestly couldn’t even conceive of before. When I was in the process of slowly eating myself to death, I used to see the thinly veiled contempt or judgment with which people would regard me, to the degree that I would often hide in my car after picking up multiple fast-food meals to gorge myself on in secret. It was truly pathological. Today, I am proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished and am treated with the same level of respect that reflects my own self- respect. It is a night- and- day difference in how I feel, both inside and out.
5. What do you consider the biggest change in your day-to-day life?
Intermittent fasting has been a big change from the constant consumption by which I had lived my life before, but I feel it fits nicely into my current lifestyle and overall approach to my general health and well- being. Also, I just naturally read nutrition labels without even thinking about it anymore and can work the calculations out on the fly regarding what will work for my diet, and what won’t.
6. What did you do to find support throughout your journey?
Posting updates on my Facebook account to get further support from friends and family as I achieved different milestones was a solid source of inspiration, for both sides. Likewise, becoming involved in other forms of social media/ forums/ support groups can help provide encouragement.
Joining a gym was also a huge step. I found a great community of incredibly supportive people in my local gym. Whereas before, I thought I’d be laughed at by being the “fat guy on the treadmill,” in reality I had people approach me and tell me straight up that I was an inspiration to them, and helping to teach me proper techniques and push me to exceed my self-imposed limitations.
7. What do you currently do to manage your day-to-day diet?
I eat things in moderation. I’d be lying if I said I have never eaten a potato in the time since initially embarking upon this journey, but then again with substitutes such as properly prepared cauliflower being even more delicious, I find that I don’t feel the need to go back to carby foods at this point. I just feel better overall when on keto, more energy, sharper mental acuity… I know I’ll never allow myself to go back to the way things were before. It just isn’t worth it to allow myself to get that fat ever again.
8. What is your favorite keto recipe from www.ruled.me that’s become a staple?
The bacon and cheese cauliflower muffins are amazing, but the chicken tender lazone is probably my favorite. So, so delicious, and quick/ easy to make. Using things like zucchini noodles might seem odd at first, but you’ll quickly find they taste even better than regular pasta. Even making this for friends who hadn’t discovered keto (yet…) they were struck by how flavorful and filling it is. Ruled.me has a terrific array of different recipe ideas to help get started, and I think folks who are new to keto will be shocked at how good we eat on this diet.
9. If there is one thing that you could do differently during your journey, what would it be and why?
One thing I wish I had done differently was to take daily, shirtless progress photographs at the beginning of my journey. I had no idea just how effective this diet would be, and how quickly I would lose the weight after fully committing myself to it. Keto provides an amazing opportunity to fully transform your body and your life, and I wish I had a sort of visual “transformation” I could stitch together with those daily photographs, but in retrospect, I hated even looking at myself in the mirror, and especially without a shirt on.
It hurts me to see them now because I look at myself back then and can recall the shame I felt being so heavy. It is incredibly liberating knowing that I never have to feel that horrible about myself ever again.