I wasn’t always fat. As a matter of fact, I was at a healthy weight for most of my growing up years, although I wasn’t very physically active.
How did I become fat? I think it was for a few reasons, the first being that I was a child of the 70s and 80s and was eating the Standard American Diet (SAD). Lots of processed foods and fast foods. The other reason is that I had a father who was obsessed with women being super-skinny, and he was always on my case to lose weight. It was constant, with threats of forcing me to exercise by chasing me down the road with the car, telling me I was fat and constantly lecturing me about my weight, my food choices, my lack of exercise, and anything else he could think of to (ahem!) encourage me.
I also grew up in a very turbulent home. My parents were unhappily married and divorced when I was 11, then I was shuttled back and forth between their homes because I was a ‘problem’ child.
One of the few things I was able to control in my life was food, and it was also one of the few sources of comfort I had, so I grabbed hold tight and took control. As a result, I went from a girl at a healthy weight to a teen with a weight problem that continued to escalate.
Naturally, my parents were concerned as my weight continued to go up, so they tried different things with me, including the Cambridge Diet which was a liquid shake diet, the cabbage soup diet, and other fad diets and pills.
I went along with all of this willingly as I was desperate to lose weight.
As I progressed into my late 20s, I ballooned up to 290+ pounds. I was out of control even though I thought I had control. Bad dietary habits had been established and food was my comfort.
I spent all of my 20s and most of my 30s eating the SAD. It was bad. I ate lots of fast food and junk food. One of my favorite things to do was order a couple of pizzas from Pizza Hut and I’d eat one of them in a single evening and finish off the other one for breakfast the next morning.
Another favorite treat was making chocolate chip pan cookies, cutting out about a quarter of the pan, topping it with a couple of scoops of ice cream, then adding chocolate and caramel sauce and whipped cream. One meal!
At the movies, I would finish off a huge tub of popcorn. I could eat a meal of Chinese food meant for 2 people and still have dessert. A package of cookies from the bakery was an afternoon snack! I’d stop at a gas station on the way to work and buy 2-3 ready-made taquitos or quesadillas and eat them in the car, then have something for breakfast once I got to work. A big bag of M&Ms lasted 2 days if I restrained myself.
It was really bad, and it’s no surprise I reached close to 300 pounds.
I was in my early 30s when I finally began getting serious about making changes to my diet and trying to exercise.
One of the first things I remember doing was switching to sprouted whole grain bread and eating Gardenburgers. I also began eating brown rice instead of white and eliminated whole-fat foods from my diet. I was still eating fast food and frozen ‘healthy’ meals, too.
My diet continued to evolve over the next decade and not too long into 2013, I was slowly becoming convinced that I needed to stop eating processed foods, and I quit eating at the majority of fast food restaurants (I will always make an occasional exception for In-n-Out and Chick-fil-A) and almost never ate processed foods. I began juicing, drinking smoothies, eating lots of whole grains and lean proteins, ate plenty of fruit and still ate some refined carbs.
While I did begin losing weight, going from 290+ to around 244 pounds in those 10 years, a bigger problem was developing: Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) as well as some of the problems that come along with that…frequent urination, constant thirst, worsening vision, a chronic yeast infection that lasted for years despite treatment, a few months with a case of frozen shoulder, some neuropathy in my toes, skin tags. I didn’t really pay attention to them, figuring that most of this was normal and that what wasn’t normal would eventually resolve itself, like the frozen shoulder did (after months of pain!)
Even with all of that, I figured I was succeeding at healthy eating since I was following the dietary guidelines and eating mostly whole food.
I had no idea that my dietary choices, while considered the healthy ones by the USDA and the food pyramid, were slowly killing me.
It was in the spring of 2014 that really hit me hard. My vision had been getting worse, and I was putting it down to age. When I finally got an eye exam to get new glasses, I had retinal bleeding and the optometrist couldn’t get the lense machine to 20/20 vision for me. I had to see a more experienced optometrist and he told me I had all the signs of being diabetic and strongly encouraged me to see my doctor. He wasn’t willing to issue a prescription for new glasses until I did so.
I made an appointment with a doctor to find out for sure and was officially diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes with an A1C of 10. This was while following a so-called healthy low-fat, whole-grain, real-food lifestyle over 90% of the time.
I was determined to get off my newly prescribed medications and avoid the complications that came with Diabetes, so I began researching online to find out how to control my Diabetes with diet. It was then that I discovered low-carb.
My search led me to the Blood Sugar 101 website where I learned that low-carb was the key to lower blood sugars. There were lots of stories shared by other diabetics of how they got their A1C into the 5s by eliminating grains.
I started implementing low-carb and eliminating grains, but was still eating low-fat meats and dairy. With the help of moderate amounts of medication (Metformin and Glimepiride), within 3 months I’d lowered my A1C to 5.7 and had lost about 10 pounds. My doctor was impressed! Her goal for me within that 3 month period was to get my A1C to 7, and I blew past that 🙂
Over the next few months, I continued with the low-carb, low-fat way of eating and joined Planet Fitness. I went to the gym almost every weekday morning to walk on the treadmill for an hour at a time. On Saturdays, I went to a nearby park and walked for anywhere from 1-2 hours. I continued to lose some weight and was still on low amounts of meds.
As October approached, my weight loss stalled and I gained some of the lost weight back. I persisted with the daily cardio at the gym, but in February of 2015 that all came to a screeching halt.
I got sick with a cold, and for the next 2 months, it seemed I was getting one cold after another. Looking back, I can see how much I was stressing my body with too much cardio and not enough sleep. I was still staying up late, usually to 11 pm, and getting up at 4 am most mornings. There were other stressors too, but those were the main ones that led to my crash.
All of this led to frustration and I was beginning to feel like I would never be able to get the weight off and the T2D under control. I quit going to the gym and poor eating habits were creeping back in.
It took me a while to get over all the colds I was catching, and I was getting overwhelmed with frustration and hopelessness. I was glad that I’d made some progress but felt like I was hitting a wall and couldn’t find a way over or through it.
One day, someone posted a video on FaceBook that caught my attention – Unfortunately, I don’t recall who posted it. It was a video of a Ted Talk presented by Dr. Sarah Hallberg, “Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Starts with Ignoring the Guidelines”
This was an amazing video, and it finally answered a question I’d been asking since I was diagnosed with T2D: If carbs make my blood sugar go up, why am I eating them?
I started following Dr. Sarah on FaceBook, and it wasn’t more than a week or so later that she posted a list of books she recommended, one of them being Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Eric Westman. I bought the Kindle version and started reading it.
Jimmy’s name was tickling my brain. I’d heard it somewhere before and with a tiny amount of searching online (seriously, go Google “Jimmy Moore” and the first page of results are all for him) I discovered he had a podcast, “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb”.
I opened my podcast app and discovered that I’d subscribed to his podcast nearly a year ago but had never downloaded or listened to any of the episodes.
Well, the LLVLC podcast binge began! I was thrilled to find this whole new world and couldn’t learn enough. I spent the next weeks taking in as much information as I could through listening to the LLVLC podcast, reading books and articles and watching Youtube videos and movies, finding informative websites and joining a whole host of Facebook groups related to LCHF.
All of this was amazing to me! It made so much sense and as I began implementing it the weight loss began again.
Ketogenic eating was so easy to do. I loved the food, I wasn’t as hungry as I was used to being and my cravings went away. My blood sugars continued to lower and stabilize, and I felt GOOD!
All the learning I was doing about LCHF/Ketogenic eating was giving me a toolbox filled with helpful tools that are helping me to be healthy, control my blood sugar and lose weight.
The newest tool in my toolbox is extended fasting. I first ran across this idea on an interview Jimmy Moore did with Dr. Jason Fung (his website is named Intensive Dietary Management) and as I learned more about it I became curious. Dr. Fung uses it with his patients to help repair insulin resistance and Jimmy was also sharing his experience with it.
I’ve done a couple of 5-7 day fasts as of the time of writing this (January 11, 2016) and have seen good results not only with the blood sugars but with also breaking through a weight loss plateau.
Extended fasting is something new to me, but I can already see benefits in making this a normal part of my life.
Since being diagnosed with T2D in June of 2014, my life has taken a fascinating direction and I’ve found my passion. Just ask anyone who brings up the topic of health and diet with me. LOL! I can talk about this for hours without getting bored, and I spend 4-5 hours a day listening to podcasts when I’m at work. I’m fortunate to have a job that allows me to wear headphones while I’m working so I can listen to whatever I like.
The Ketogenic way of living will be part of my life forever, and I love it! What’s not to like about being able to eat good food with lots of healthy fats and not having to spend hours on the treadmill clocking hundreds of miles to nowhere?
I’ve always drifted along with life, seeing where the flow would take me and following along. I’ve had some short-term goals and have pursued those successfully, but I’ve never been one to have a 5 or 10-year plan with steps mapped out. It’s just not my style.
2 years ago I was invited to be part of a new women’s study group at my church, called “A League of Their Own”. It’s a discipleship group where each woman is partnered with another, and there’s a 2-year commitment. In the first year, you and your partner go through the study with a group of 10 other women, then in the second year, each team of 2 women starts a new discipleship group and teaches those women what they learned in the prior year.
One of the goals of this league is to discover God’s vision for your life through your passions, interests, gifts, skills, and talents.
At the end of the year, you use everything you’ve learned to develop an action plan for 1, 5, and 10 years.
Both my health and this group impacted me so much in 2014, and that all coalesced into my 1, 5, and 10-year plan!
Here are the elements of what I’m aiming to do with this new passion:
- Posting regularly on this blog and continuing to share resources
- Starting a keto resource email newsletter
- Continuing to educate myself about this way of living
- Sharing this way of living with anyone who is interested in finding out more
- Helping my friends who want to do this to implement this successfully
My story doesn’t end here, there is a whole lot more to write and I’m looking forward to sharing it with all of you 🙂
I hope this inspires you. If I can do it, you really can do it! I know that it sounds like a cliche, but it’s true. I am not a highly disciplined fitness guru who loves hours of exercise. I’m a normal person; a woman who has been fat for most of her adult life and would rather read or watch TV than go to the gym.
The difference is that I finally saw the lies that our culture is teaching us about what healthy eating and exercise is supposed to be, and began looking for the truth based on real science, not on politics and money.
That information is out there for you to find, and this blog is where I hope to make some of it available to you along with my personal story 🙂
Please feel free to contact me using the email form on my contact page. I do try and answer all my emails, though it may take a few days.