How I Lost Over 100 Pounds With the Keto Diet (Interview)
Hi! Tell us about yourself…why did you decide to start losing weight?
I had struggled with weight since I was a child. I had some very successful weight loss in the past. They all centered around low fat, high carbs. First was in my teens doing Weight Watchers, the old program that had you eat a certain amount of certain food groups. Then again in my 20’s, I did a very low-fat diet where I lost a lot of weight. Then in my 30’s (in 2005), I joined a Weight Watchers group where I did the WW Core Diet. I was very successful at that having lost 77 lbs. This was basically low fat, high carbs as well. But as with all of the diets that I did, I never really did away with cravings or hunger. Before turning 40, I did sort of a WW Core diet again and lost some weight but it was short-lived.
A couple of years before starting keto, I tried weight loss hypnotherapy and working with an exercise therapist to lose weight. I had a little bit of success but it was also short-lived. In January 2018, I went to the doctor’s and weighed in at 378 lbs and was told that I was officially diabetic. This was my second time being diabetic. I was able to reverse it once with a low fat, high carb diet, but was never able to get out of a pre-diabetic range.
My doctor was ready to put me on diabetes medicine. I was already on high blood pressure meds and using a CPAP to sleep at night. Hearing my weight at that time and diabetes diagnosis scared me big time. I told my doctor I had just started a low-calorie meal delivery program so she decided to hold off on diabetes meds to see if I could lose weight on my own.
Then a few weeks later, the therapist that I had been seeing told me about Keto. She had been told about it by another patient. I decided to read up on it and gave it a try starting on 2/10/18 at 44 yrs old.
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This in my mind was my last-ditch effort to lose weight but I never imagined how successful I would be at it.
What did you do for exercise when you started? Did you change it up throughout your journey?
I really didn’t exercise a lot early on with keto. I would do some walking but I wasn’t consistent at it. Around 9-10 months into keto after losing about 70 lbs, I started taking walks in my neighborhood. I did that consistently until February 2019.
On my 1st keto anniversary, I joined Planet Fitness. My main focus was cardio (treadmill and elliptical), but I eventually started using the weight machines. I have a slight handicap in my left arm, so I stuck with machines that worked well with my handicap.
My workout schedule consisted of going to the gym after work a few nights a week and on the weekends. I could easily spend an hour to 2 hours at the gym. My energy level was/is through the roof with keto. I had never had that type of energy on any other diets nor did I enjoy going to the gym before keto.
In mid-March of 2020 when the pandemic caused folks to quarantine, I stopped going to the gym because they had closed down. I compensated by walking 3 miles during my lunch hour since I was working from home due to COVID. As much as possible, I would walk 2-3 miles at lunch and would walk after work, or do steps in my house if I couldn’t get outside to walk.
My goal is to do at least 10k steps every day. I have not missed a 10k step day since mid-June of 2020. I also try to still do some arm workouts but I haven’t been as consistent at that as I have with walking.
What did you do for nutrition when you started? Did you change it up throughout your journey?
I follow a ketogenic diet. My main focus was to eat foods low in carbs, keeping my carbs at 20-25 grams net carbs or less per day to get my body into ketosis. I did not track my macros for the first 2+ years nor did I care about calories.
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I first started by cutting out bread, pasta, rice, and sugar and focused on eating foods like meat, seafood, poultry, dairy, cheese, nuts, and low carb veggies. In addition, I would eat keto products or substitutes but tried to limit them as they can stall weight loss.
I made sure to drink lots of water and keep up on my electrolytes since you lose a lot of that on keto. The only supplements I really took/take is collagen and use an electrolyte drink powder to get in my electrolytes.
I never really used exogenous ketones other than a few times to see what effect that had on my energy and alertness. But exogenous ketones are not necessary. If you keep your carbs low enough, your body will create ketones and go into ketosis. You’ll burn fat and get energy from fat.
Now that I have lost so much weight, it is coming off slower. I have started tracking macros Monday through Friday (carbs and calories only) and no tracking on the weekends (stay keto/low carb but don’t worry about calories). My macros are set at 17 grams of net carbs and 2,262 calories. I track using Carb Manager. I do not worry about tracking my fat and protein macros.
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How did you stay mentally strong when it was tough? Did you ever give up? How did you recover?
Once I got through the first few weeks of feeling tired and sluggish from carb withdrawal, my energy kicked in and my clothes were feeling looser. I also found that if I cheated, it made me feel pretty sick, especially anything with a lot of sugar. So I stopped having anything off plan other than a few small bites of something non-keto here and there.
The increased energy and adverse effects of cheating kept me motivated. Keto had me feeling better than I had ever felt. I went from diabetic to normal A1C ranges within 6 months. My blood pressure improved and I eventually stopped sleeping with a CPAP. All of these changes kept me motivated to keep going. I did not want to go back to feeling tired and old again.
Consistency is key. The weight loss might slow but if you stay consistent, you’ll reap the benefits with weight loss, improved energy, improved health, and mental clarity.
Did you use any sort of trackers/apps/scales to track your progress?
I fast daily 16-18 hrs a day (includes sleep hours) and use the Zero fasting app for that.
Now that I am tracking macros, I use Carb Manager for that.
I have been wearing a Fitbit since before keto. I used that to track my exercise, sleep, sometimes water intake, and weight. Water and weight I track manually using the Fitbit app. Exercise, steps, and sleeping are tracked through the Fitbit watch.
When did you start to notice progress?
Within the first few weeks, my pants and shirts started to feel looser. Then after about a month on keto, I weighed myself and was down around 20 lbs. As time went on, clothes sizes got smaller which was a huge motivator. I went from a 3-4X shirt to an XL.
Do you have any fitness “hacks” or “secrets” that helped you succeed?
5 months into keto I started to naturally fast longer. Going from 12 hours to 16-18 hrs. Sometimes even longer. Once you are fat-adapted on keto, you can go longer without feeling hungry. I also found doing fasted workouts can help the weight come off and lots of water intake is key to flushing out the fat. Fasting also keeps me from snacking at night. Once I eat dinner, I’m done for the night. If I want a keto dessert, it is immediately after dinner.
What is your best advice to beginners who are looking to lose weight?
- Keep it simple; don’t worry about tracking; cut out the bread, pasta, rice, and sugar.
- Eat enough fat to satiate your hunger especially in the beginning to cut down on carb cravings. You’ll eventually want to eat less fat.
- Stay consistent and committed. Flip-flopping on and off keto won’t work.
Do you have any fitness books/podcasts/websites that you’d recommend and why?
I recommend starting a keto Instagram account and search keto hashtags for inspiration. If you want FREE keto food ideas, you can always follow my Instagram (@frankly_keto). @drericberg is a great keto Instagram account that you can learn from.
Where can we find more about you?
Instagram Profile Link: @frankly_keto
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