We love hearing success stories and are really happy to introduce Louise Reynolds. We met Louise through social media and developed a friendship. We actually met in person at a meat up in Melbourne and are happy to say we are now friends.
Here’s Louise’s success story.
My weight gain and weight loss story begins with my early relationship with food. Food has always been a big part of my life. Like many families, we celebrate special occasions like birthdays and holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, by gathering around a table with special foods.
My paternal grandparents always had food prepared when we visited. My grandmother was a wonderful cook; sweets, cakes and her Christmas plum pudding was always a highlight on Christmas Day. She would prepare it months in advance, and the pudding was hung to dry and then boiled on Christmas Day.
This delicious pudding was rich, dark and fruity and served with lashings of cream and custard. Pudding was always served after the heaped plate of turkey and roasted vegetables, so the food coma was well deserved!
My son was born in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2002, in an unhappy marriage which later ended, that I gained most of my weight. Like Dr Phil says, I was having a party in my mouth and eating my emotions. Thanks Dr Phil, for the realisation that I was eating my way through my unhappiness.
The emotional rollercoaster escalated with Family Court custody matters . This ended with me becoming a full time single parent of my special needs son, while working full time and a part time PhD student. Life was one big ball of stress!
In attempting to lose weight, I tried all manner of things: the obligatory Weight Watchers and counting points, shakes, Jenny Craig and Dukan to name a few. The shakes, in hindsight were low-carb’ish, albeit very low calorie as it had a lot less fat in the program. This worked well and I lost 15kgs, but of course was not sustainable as I wasn’t as knowledgeable as I am now about the ‘true’ science of eating ketogenically.
Having trained as a paramedic/EMT and university lecturer, I do have a leaning for medical research and understanding. Some may say I like to over intellectualise things. In trying to gain a better understanding of my weight issues I was looking for reasons behind my every increasing weight gain.
Using the calories in calories out conventional wisdom, I hired a physical trainer to ‘punish’ me three times a week. As I now know, the exercise did make me feel better, but it never shifted the ever increasing weight. I realised the irony of my situation, being an intelligent overweight woman teaching about health care. Here I was standing out the front of my large freshman first year class and I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. I needed to be empathetic and understanding of my own health needs.
Therapy is life changing
Using my university contacts, I knew of the eating disorder research unit at my local campus. They were leaders in this research area and I contacted them asking for a therapist. This changed my life. The therapist used Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to understand what my triggers were, by raising my consciousness about my food patterns.
Unpacking this meant that I went back to what my food values and beliefs were, thinking about my childhood and how food was connected with social events with my family. This was a revelation. I learnt how to better manage various stressors by shifting my thoughts, feelings and behaviours. I was also using food to console my emotions, mostly carbs, as they were easy to prepare and accessible, rather than as nourishment.
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weight loss surgery
This brings me to how I made the decision to undergo weight loss surgery. This was not an easy one. Again, being who I am, I researched the literature as to what my choices were, and went along to three different surgeons and basically interviewed them and their procedures. I took along the research papers, with sticky notes and highlighted texts. I wanted to show them that I was serious about my decision.
Part of the reason that weight loss surgery was on my radar was a colleague had undergone a vertical sleeve gastrectomy with great results. Her surgeon was one of the ones that I had consulted and found him receptive to my need for information to inform my decision.
At this time, I was approaching 300 pounds (over 130kg) and was finding moving around difficult. Nothing was working for me in terms of diets. I had had two years of therapy, so was getting a better understanding on my own my mental health and how I was managing stress, this was one last option I had to try.
I knew from the literature that I didn’t want a lap band or the gastric bypass, I wanted a permanent option that allowed me to eat what I wanted, but also control portion size. I later learned the difference between abstaining and moderating (see Gretchen Rubin’s work on habits), and I am definitely an abstainer!
I underwent a vertical sleeve gastrectomy in July 2012. By all accounts, I am one of the lucky recipients as I have had no side effects or adverse outcomes in my post-operative recovery, such as vomiting or reflux.
Then I found keto!
My low carb journey is really a credit to my mom. She started with Tim Noakes’s Banting in early 2015. She planted the seed of ideas about lower carbs and increasing fats, and really shifting her thinking about the way of eating as a lifestyle rather than a diet.
I took on some of these ideas over that summer, with changing the way my new family meals were planned and prepared. I was appalled at how much processed food we had in the pantry and really enjoyed getting back to basics and eating real food.
Lowering carbs then became more conscious when both my new partner Andrew and his teen son were diagnosed with various medical issues. These were diagnosed by an immunologist/allergist that has a strong interest in metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.
Andrew has had long standing allergies and his son has eosinophilic oesophagitis which the allergist drew back to insulin resistance. Interestingly, our son who is now 17, had a Kraft assay which showed a long slow response to the glucose. We have seen and read about Ivor Cummins who highlighted Joseph Kraft’s work about early commencement of these patterns long before being diagnosed as Type 2 diabetic.
With Andrew, together we are raising three teen boys, however getting them to eat low carb is a challenge when they each have their own money from part time jobs (two of them work at Burger King!) and fast food is cheap and accessible.
Keto for me is about healing damage to my body. Both from my years of disordered eating as well as physical injuries sustained from a motorcycle accident in May 2015. I was riding my bike between meetings at work, and T-boned a car sustaining 11 broken ribs, two punctured lungs, broken shoulder blade and sternum and three fractured vertebrae.
I had a five hour spinal surgery, a day in an induced coma, five days in ICU with multiple blood transfusions with a lengthy rehab. Keto is healing the inflammation, and coming up to three years after my accident I am off all pain meds and am strength training using 5×5 Strong Lifts.
60kgs lost and getting stronger
My weight loss is totalled 60 kgs or 132 pounds, which I attribute to a few key changes in my life. Yes, the weight loss surgery has helped me, but I see that as an adjunct to the many behaviour changes and of course low carb/keto. I see the surgery as a tool, which has allowed me to reconnect with my hunger signals and keto allows me to feel fuller for longer with the higher fat being more satiating.
I am feeling stronger and managing most days on one or two meal day with intermittent fasting. The goal for this year is to lose more body fat and build strength in my back some more with the strength training, without really worrying too much about what the scale tells me as my clothes fit just fine.
Now, I feel that my relationship with food is about sustaining me, making sure that I stay burning fat, having enough protein to maintain and build lean muscle. I love cooking and preparing meals, getting back to first principles such as making my own smoked bacon and even fancier technique such as sous vide.
If you enjoyed Louise’s story follow her on Twitter @DrLouReynolds
Thank you so much for sharing your story Louise! 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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