It is honestly still unreal to me that I’ve lost over 50kgs and maintained that weight loss. I had gotten to a point in my life where I thought I was resigned to being the fat one forever. I have had so many unsuccessful weight loss attempts over my lifetime. Rather than look at them as failures I like to think I learnt something each time and it has contributed to my success this time. Persistence and a ketogenic lifestyle worked for me. If I can do this anyone can, believe me.
ALWAYS THE FAT ONE
I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been the fat one. In my family, at school, with my friends, at work. That was me. From a very young age I was aware that I was overweight, and that it was a bad thing. I was put on diets from the age of 9 or 10 with regular weigh-ins. If I hadn’t lost weight, what had I done wrong that week. What ‘bad’ food had I eaten. How had I failed. My self-worth was determined by that number on the scale. Foods were assigned a morality as either good or bad. Eating bad foods resulted in guilt and self-hate. This became a vicious cycle of eating so called bad foods, feeling guilty and punishing myself with negative self-talk.
ALL THE DIETS
I feel like everyone who has struggled with their weight has a similar story about trying every diet they come across. Well me too! Weight Watchers (at least 5 times I think?), Lite’n’Easy, Paleo, Optifast Shakes, the Soup Diet, counting calories, Veganism, I Quit Sugar, The Paleo Way, 12WBT, shall I go on? There was usually some success on the scales at the start, which keeps you motivated, but then the constant hunger and work involved gets too much. Then I am off plan, whichever one it was, and eating all the things that I wasn’t ‘allowed to’ before. Every Monday was a new start, and I honestly really hoped one time something would stick and one day I would be ‘normal’. Ha! I realise now that will never be the case, but I am not sure I want to be ‘normal’ anymore anyway.
Even when I wasn’t on a diet I was not really crazy off the rails with my eating or consuming loads of junk food. I love to cook, and we generally ate what would be considered ‘balanced meals’ that we prepared from scratch. I could never understand why the scales kept creeping up.
In June 2016 we travelled to Europe where we cruised the Mediterranean and visited friends in Slovakia. It was the trip of a lifetime, but at 151kgs it was very hard. Coping with the summer heat, walking around on cobbled streets and being confined to small plane seats all took its toll. I came home from that trip knowing I had to make a change, but not knowing what that was, or what might actually work.
I visited the doctor for some routine blood tests to find out that my blood glucose was 0.1 outside of the normal range, and she wanted to send me for a glucose tolerance test. The thought that I may have diabetes scared the living daylights out of me. That was it, I needed to make a serious change. I knew that a low carbohydrate diet was the best option to control blood sugar from what I had learnt on Diet Doctor. I signed up to the Diet Doctor subscription and binge watched all the videos and documentaries and knew this was what I needed to do. Next step was telling Dan that we were starting a new hair-brain scheme on Monday (of course) – keto. I am very lucky that she happily goes along with most of my crazy ideas and I could not have achieved what I have without her endless support.
JUST ANOTHER MONDAY
So we cleaned out the pantry and fridge of all the carby stuff and stocked up on butter and cheese. We didn’t start off tracking our macros just focusing on eating good quality low carb foods and avoiding everything else. We also cut out all diet soft drinks and sweeteners to reset our taste buds. I don’t remember now if the first week were hard, but I may have wiped it from my memory! I had determination going for me at the beginning as I did not want to have that glucose tolerance test. Within about 6 weeks I had lost 10kgs and was feeling great. I was eating delicious food and not feeling hungry or deprived.
Around the same time as we started I also started seeing a psychologist to help me overcome some mental health issues and work through the emotions I had around my weight and dieting. My biggest fear at the beginning of starting on keto was eating off plan and that snowballing into undoing all my hard work and then starting again next Monday, as had happened so often in the past. My psychologist suggested that to try and avoid this I actually schedule specific times, about once a month, to deliberately eat ‘off plan’. This seemed to fly in the face of everything I had tried before and felt completely like the wrong thing to do. So we tried it. I set a window of time which allowed for one meal on a specific day when I would eat a non-keto meal. Now, I didn’t want to go crazy and stuff myself with all the junk, I decided it would be a special meal of something good quality and delicious. As crazy as this seemed it worked. Over time I learnt to trust myself. I now know I can eat something that is ‘off plan’ for me and then go right back to my keto friendly foods at the next meal.
Within 8 months I had lost 40kgs and I was loving life and my new way of eating. I felt invincible and thought that in another 6 months I could repeat what I had done, and I would be at my goal weight – job done. But that was not the case.
THINGS DON’T ALWAYS GO TO PLAN
My weight loss started to really slow down and over the next 5 months I only managed to lose another 10 kgs. This time was really challenging for me emotionally, as all my lifelong memories of weighing in and determining my self-worth by the number on the scales came to a head. Every Friday was an emotional rollercoaster as I beat myself up for not losing weight.
I was trying everything I could to make the scales shift. I upped my intermittent fasting to include a couple of 36 hours fast each week. This then escalated to 3 and 5 day extended fasts. When I was eating I was strictly tracking my macros and calories. All the while the scales were barely budging. All the restriction of the extra fasting and tracking was negatively impacting my emotional state, as I felt like I was back ‘on a diet’. My plan to try to ‘keto harder’ was just not working for me. My stress and emotions were out of control.
I had to make a change. I needed to learn to not associate my self-worth with a number on the scales or a clothing size. I needed to learn to love myself as I was. To accept myself as I was. My health had dramatically improved and my self-confidence was building. As much as I still have more weight to lose, this is no longer the main focus in my life. I want to be happy and healthy. I need to just keep calm and keto on.
The non-scale victories I have every day now mean so much more to me than the scales ever could, and I never would have believed that 18 months ago. Every time I can put on the seat belt on a plane without needing an extender brings me to tears – still! Wrapping a towel completely around myself, feeling my ribs, crossing my legs, seeing the veins and tendons in my hand and feet, fitting into booths, not recognising myself when I see my reflection in a shop window, just so many things!
But it is not all rainbows and unicorns I must admit. Clothes shopping was something I thought I would be so excited about, imagine the thought of not being relegated to the plus-size section. But after shopping in the plus-size section for my whole adult life, I feel comfortable and safe there. I do not feel comfortable and safe in the regular section and I find clothes shopping very overwhelming at the moment. I am never sure what size I actually am or what will suit me now. The plus-size section was very limited and now my options are endless. I also have this feeling everyone is wondering what I am doing in this shop as nothing could ever fit me. Self-perception is a funny thing. This is definitely a work in progress for me as I become more used to my new size.
The more weight I lose, the more excess skin I have appearing. Ironic isn’t it. Just when you think you will be strutting your stuff in a bikini soon you actually feel like you need to cover up more than when you were 151kgs. The truth of massive weight loss is that you will have excess skin and I certainly do. I had always dreamed of wearing singlet tops, as I was too self-conscious at my heaviest, but the excess skin on my arms is still a barrier for me. The excess skin also makes clothes shopping a bit more challenging. I know this is all getting a bit doom and gloom, and I certainly would not want to go back, but I want to share the truth.
Who knows! Even though I still have weight to lose I already feel like I have all the opportunities in the world open to me. And that is so exciting! I am loving working on Have Butter will Travel together with Dan. We are learning new skills every day and I am getting to use my creative side with recipe creation and food photography.
In regard to keto, every day I am so proud of myself that this has actually become a lifestyle for me. It is my new normal and I no longer need to worry that that will change. During the week I usually intermittent fast for 16-22 a day but I am more relaxed around this on the weekend. I find this makes it sustainable, particularly for social events. I enjoy my coffee (only one a day) with MCT oil and try to keep my carbs under 20g a day. My scales are slowly creeping down, but I try not to make this my focus or even set goals around this. When my body is ready it will let go of the weight.
I am by no means a keto perfectionist, and in some ways, I believe this is why we have come so far. If I had told myself from day one that I needed to be strict keto and never eat certain foods again I would have wanted to rebel against that. By following our When in Rome philosophy I have been able to enjoy non-keto friendly foods and get right on with my life. No guilt, no nose-dive, just get on with life. This has been a game-changer for me.
P.S. I never got that glucose tolerance test, but my blood sugar is now well and truly in the healthy range.
If you have a story you would like to share send us an email and we might just share your story with our readers. It’s important to show the versatility of keto and how different people make it work for them. We plan to share more stories like this in the future.
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