I’ve been debating for months on whether or not I wanted to write this, but after nearly two and a half years of being on a ketogenic diet, I figured it’s about time I shared my story. Even if this isn’t seen by others, I learned it’s always good to be open and express yourself. Just by writing this I feel like I can reflect on the past, see how far I’ve come and set future goals for myself to become a better person.
Now if you knew me in person, I’m not the most expressive or talkative person. I like to keep to myself and enjoy quiet nights in rather than being out and about town. However, keto (and losing weight) in general has completely changed who I am and my outlook on life.
So this wouldn’t be a “progress post” or a real journey without showing comparison pictures. To be honest, I’ve always hated having my picture taken, so unfortunately all I have are low quality photos that are few and far between.
This was probably one of my biggest regrets, not fully documenting the changes since those before and after pictures can truly be motivating. I highly recommend anyone planning on any sort of weight loss program take them since you will have days where you feel like you aren’t making progress at all, but just by looking at all photos, you can reassure yourself of how far you’ve come.
Basically, I never really cared about my appearance or health. Well, I probably did, but being an awkward teenager, I was just in denial thinking that they weren’t important to me. I gradually gained weight over the years, but by grade 11 and 12, was when I put on the bulk of the weight. I became a shut in, living a reclusive lifestyle where I would go to school and head straight home afterwards, not wanting to be outside or be around others.
Then I started university and the freshman 15 easily turned into 30. Before I knew it I was tipping the scales at close to (and maybe even passing) 300lbs!
Comfort can be a dangerous thing and change can be frightening. I had ZERO social skills and managed to avoid all social interactions by taking the majority of my classes online and taking summer classes to have an excuse to not work part time or go out during the summer. It wasn’t until my final summer of university where I realized, I was about to enter the real world and can’t continue running away from my problems. After graduation, I’d be out of excuses aside from me being a failure and a burden on society.
Reflecting on it, I realized that in the past, I was okay with letting myself down, I didn’t care about failure or disappointment as long as it only affected me. As soon as other people came into the equation, I would do everything I could to not let them down. I didn’t want my family to have the burden of having this man child leech off of them because he couldn’t get his act together, and I didn’t want to burden my friends who kept in touch with me by being a debbie downer every time we socialized.
In a depressed state, not knowing what I was going to do, I was browsing reddit and happened to see a weight loss success story on the front page. Intrigued, I read the post and saw that the guy had lost over 100lbs by just switching to this high fat low carb diet. Now, I’ve tried losing weight in the past, although I always gave up after the first week. For whatever reason, everything just clicked this time. It might have been because there was never any real pressure for me to change in the past. I always told myself I could put it off until later, but this time I realized, if I didn’t want to be living at home for the rest of my life, I had to make a change.
I did my initial research, read multiple success stories and began changing my diet. Luckily for me, I wasn’t that picky with food. I could eat just about anything (which was kind of why I got to that point…). I’ll admit that my one weakness was sugar and baked goodies, but when you realize it’s do or die, you’re more motivated to quit cold turkey.
I’ll share what my diet consisted of, but to be honest, it probably won’t work for everyone. I generally only ate 2 meals a day, with occasional low carb snacking or lighter meals on some days. Luckily for me, since I was pretty much a shut in, I could avoid most social interactions. When I did go out with friends, I would usually just avoid ordering a meal or eating all together.
I’m a rather simple person in the sense that I can eat the same thing everyday as long as I enjoy it. My breakfast would consist of:
I literally ate this same meal (roughly 500-800 calories) every day for probably about 8 months. With all of the fat in that one meal, it kept me sated until my next big meal.
After I got the hang of the diet, I began to experiment more with different recipes. On special occasions, I’d whip up some low carb protein pancakes, topped with sugar free syrup, a low carb smoothie or bake a loaf of flax bread to spice things up a bit! For the most part though, I would stick to my core of sausage and eggs since consistency was something I needed in order to stick to the diet plan.
My second meal would generally be a lot higher in calories and be my main meal of the day. I loved eating fatty meats, but if I were to incorporate them into all of my meals, I would far exceed my caloric intake! My dinners would consist of some sort of protein (chicken, beef, fish or pork) combined with some sort of veggies to up my fiber intake and get some nutrients in me.
I personally loved prepping meals in my toaster oven or in my crock pot. All I had to do was season my meats and toss them in there either in the morning, or an hour before dinner Making simple and quick meals were probably one of the keys to success for me! I really had no excuse to not stick to the diet, especially when it would take less than 10 minutes of prep and to have my own homemade dinner ready later in the evening.
I lost the bulk of the weight within the first year. One of the biggest reasons why I strongly recommended keto to people looking to lose weight is because of the near instant gratification of seeing results. While the initial weight loss is primarily water weight, just seeing the change in numbers is such a huge psychological benefit. I remember working my butt off on other diets and working out for weeks, only to see a 5lb difference. With keto, I think I lost nearly 10lbs (mostly water weight) within the first week. Within the first month, I was even down nearly 20lbs!
For the first four months of keto, my lifestyle remained relatively the same. I added in very light exercise (walking to classes), but did not include much physical activity while my body adapted to the changes. After I finished up my semester and had more free time, I began incorporating high intensity interval training (using an elliptical) to my routine to help break plateaus and improve my cardiovascular health.
I’ll admit, I could barely “run” at a 4 mph pace when I first started and would be completely winded after the first 20 seconds of sprinting. I never gave up though and always forced myself to complete the exercise. Over time, I worked my way up from 15 minute sessions to hour long sessions and nearly doubling my running pace!
I slowly started adding in strength training to my regiment as well. As the pounds continued to melt away, I realized I had a lot of loose and saggy skin from the years of weight gain. Being incredibly insecure already, I didn’t want to face the harsh reality of putting in all of this effort and not having my desired physique. While my reason for doing strength training wasn’t the most sound, I’ve come to become comfortable with who I am. I personally enjoy challenging myself with lifting heavier weights and setting new goals for myself to reach. Sure, I’ll always have stretch marks and some loose skin, but instead of trying to forget about the past, I’d rather accept that being overweight was once part of my life.
After one full year of keto (July 2013 – July 2014) I had lost a full 100lbs (Roughly 310lbs down to 210lbs) and after a few more months, I managed to drop below 200lbs. The last time I was below 200lbs was back in 8th grade! While this was certainly a milestone for me, I still had a ways to go before hitting my goal weight (170lbs). Over the next year, I struggled to maintain a strict keto diet. Part of this was me being more relaxed since I hit such a big milestone, another reason was likely me just being stubborn and sticking to the same routine since it had worked in the past.
I managed to drop down to an all time low of 190lbs, but I grew extremely complacent and didn’t have the motivation to reflect on myself and adjust my plan. There was only a 10lb difference over the next few months which was difficult to deal with, especially after having such success in the past.
I also had a lot of other things going on in my life at the time, I actually managed to get a job in my desired field which, while great, was definitely stressful since it was my first job ever. Another thing that I overlooked is that I may have changed physically, but it takes time to change mentally as well. While I was happier with who I was, it took a lot of time to build up the confidence to interact normally with people. The combination of anxiety, stress and working a desk job definitely started affecting my weight loss progress. Before I knew it, I put on 15-20lbs over the course of 6 months. While I still continued strength training so not all of it was fat, I wasn’t where I wanted to be.
It wasn’t until I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that I was starting to slip back into old habits, turning cheat meals into cheat days, or not hitting the gym because I was too tired from commuting. In November, I knew that the holidays were quickly approaching, where I would have to see old friends and family. I wanted to be a advance and grow as a person each time I saw these people, not revert back to who I used to be. I started off small. Instead of commuting everywhere, I forced myself to walk, no matter the weather. I made sure I had time for a run in the mornings so no matter what happened during the day, I still would have gotten some sort of physical activity into my schedule. Within the past 2 months, I’ve managed to drop back most of the weight since I started relapsing. While I may be a bit heavier on the scale, I’m significantly leaner than I was a year ago because of my body re-composition with strength training.
While some of these may sound cliche, I found that there was some value in following these guidelines I set for myself.
There really is no secret way to lose weight. While Keto may seem like a miracle to some, it takes a lot of dedication to change your diet completely and you have to remain consistent. It took me 21 years to get to my heaviest point, that weight isn’t going to come off overnight or a month.
I can’t count the number of times I was down because the scale didn’t move on a day to day basis. After plateauing for a good 2-3 months at one point, I noticed that while my weight wasn’t moving, my body was still making progress. My face was slimming down, there was less flab on my arms and my belly area. Don’t let a number psych you out to the point where you start to panic and think you need to drastically change everything.
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re craving something carby or something really high in calories. When I started, I would restrict myself like crazy, only to end up caving into the cravings and binging! At the end of the day, weight loss is all about calories in versus calories out. Sometimes it’s better to just let yourself have a treat, but balance out the rest of your caloric intake with that cheat in mind!
There is no real “correct” way to lose weight (aside from fixing your diet, and consuming less calories than you burn). The best advice I can give here is for you to do your own research and experiment with your findings to see what works best with your preferences and lifestyle. If you’re interested in trying keto, there’s a great FAQ section on reddit to help you get started with your learning!
I’m thankful that my friends were patient with me. There were countless times where I turned down outings because I made my diet my top priority. Your close friends should understand this, but time spent with the people you care about the most is precious and time is also something you can never get back. Don’t completely tunnel vision on your diet to the point where you neglect those around you and you aren’t happy with yourself.
Maybe it was being raised in a traditional “asian” household, but I was always told that failure was not an option. This really messed with how I approached things in life, usually quitting if there was even a slight chance of not succeeding. This was an absolutely horrible mindset to have since mistakes happen. Not everything in life will go the way you want. What’s important is that you reflect on what went wrong and look at how you can improve and learn from the experience. Maybe you need to adjust your caloric intake because of all of the amazing progress you have made, or add in more exercise to keep up with your new body!
One of the biggest reasons why I avoided social interactions and going out is because I was always afraid of being judged by others. While sure, there may be a small percentage of people who are truly jerks who will make snide comments, the majority of people aren’t. Everyone has their own insecurities, their flaws or other problems in their life that they’re concerned about. Most people don’t have the time or even care enough about you to be judgmental! Even if they were, their comments or opinion will only impact you if you let it get to you.
Personally for me, a long term goal is easy to set. The problem is that it’s a long term goal because it will take a while to reach it. Setting smaller goals to lead you to the finish line will help you stay focused on the big picture by giving you small victories.
Having grown up as the quiet, socially awkward kid, I always thought it was just who I was. It wasn’t until I got older where I realized what I wanted in life, and the type of person I wanted to become. While I’m still not where I want to be, I know that if I want to change my life, I have to be in control and pursue it myself.
If you actually managed to read my entire story without closing the tab, kudos to you! I apologize for the lack of photos, but as I mentioned previously, I wouldn’t be caught anywhere near a camera! I still instinctively avoid taking pictures of myself, but hey, maybe that will change in the future as I plan to record more of my life and treasure these memories. While I still have some ways to go before I hit my original goal weight, writing this and reflecting definitely has reignited my passion, which I’ll be working towards in 2016!