What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
The day I turned 29, I made a vow to myself to lose 70 pounds by the time I turned 30, hoping to drop from 190 pounds on my 5'3 frame down to 120.
The fatness of my body was very much tied to my psychological well-being. When I was a senior in high school, I went on the Zone Diet and got down to 128 pounds. Then, as fear and anxiety about going to college grew, so did my body. And I ballooned up to 170 by the following year.
Seven years later, when I got my first teaching job at a behavioral school, I managed the stress of trying to teach current (and future) criminals by going home and binge eating every night. I gained 40 pounds in a matter of six months, topping out at my all time high of 210. I cried in the doctor's office that day, unable to believe that I had gained so much weight, so quickly. So, I quit that job. And my boyfriend at the time promptly dumped me.
Completely lost and feeling very alone, I figured the solution was to lose weight. I dropped 20 pounds. A year later, 10 of those pounds were back.
These examples are not the only times I've gained and lost. If I listed all those other times, this would be a much longer article.
In short, I learned that I gain weight when I'm under stress or depressed, and lose weight as an attempt to release the negative feelings from my body. When I turned 29, I decided I was fed up with this cycle. I wanted to release the burden of weight worries and learn to use food as fuel, rather than as an emotional crutch.
That's when I found keto, a very low-carb, high-fat diet. I pored over posts online, read recipes, and Googled around until I made my decision. What helped me choose keto was hearing about how satisfying it was. Many people reported feeling satiated from eating higher fat, whereas typical low-fat diets tend to leave you feeling hungry. I was intrigued.
I began following keto right after Thanksgiving since that's when my birthday was. I figured it would be easier to start the diet after the temptations of that holiday, and then adjust to the new way of eating before Christmas hit. The first week of keto, I ate a lot of eggs and bacon. Bacon is encouraged on keto. So are cheese and butter. Carbs, however, must be limited to about 20 grams per day, to allow your body to enter ketosis. Ketosis occurs when there are a large amount of ketones in your blood. People who have epilepsy try to put their bodies into Ketosis, as it helps lessen the frequency of seizures. For people interested in losing weight, like myself, it is a very successful way to lose weight and control cravings.
After I adjusted to eating hard boiled eggs for breakfast, salad with with lots of veggies, cheese, chicken, and blue cheese dressing for lunch, and a bunless burger with cheese and a side of veggies for dinner, I found the weight quickly disappearing, along with my sugar cravings. At Christmas, I sat through a work meeting at a table full of cookies and candy — and didn't touch anything. I didn't even feel particularly deprived, apart from a kind of sadness that comes with not sharing "happy food" with work friends during the holidays. I was also really proud that I didn't have to partake in that whole "get these away from me before I finish the pile" kind of conversation that always comes with this situation.
Apart from losing weight really quickly, the best side effect of cutting out the carbs and sugar was how I felt emotionally. I felt capable of being genuinely happy again, as the perpetual sugar coma I used to dull my emotions was gone. I imagine this is close to what it's like for an alcoholic entering sobriety. I felt lighter, less stressed, and more in control of what I ate. I could easily say no to eating a whole pizza and binge watching something on Netflix, choosing to go for a walk outside instead.
Now, it's a year later. I'm halfway through 30 now. It's been a rocky road, as I have slipped back into food addiction here and there. I now know that drinking alcohol often leads to making sugary decisions the following day. And one day of sugary decisions is often not just that — it often ends up being a week. Then I start over. I should also note that I'm not 70 pounds lighter. I was 25 pounds lighter, then I gained some back. Now I'm getting back on the wagon.