Everyone loves a good weight loss testimony. Seeing the before and after pictures can be motivating and encouraging for anyone looking to lose a few, or a lot of pounds.
Seeing others success stories can give us confidence in trying a certain diet plan, diet pill, or even develop a workout routine for beginners. It makes us believe that “one thing” that worked for this person would surely work for us.
But it just takes a quick look at the diet industry to know there’s a bazillion ways for people to reach their weight loss and fitness goals. And in fact, it is rarely only “one thing” that leads an individual to their after photo.
Some weight loss methods are healthy and others are not. I’ve experimented with both.
That brings me to my own testimony. Actually, my own and my husband’s testimony.
The Early Years, Before We Met
My husband, Scott, struggled with his weight for most of his life. Very physically active as a child, he didn’t really notice any extra inches as a tween and if they were present, they didn’t slow him down..
Then after accidentally overhearing some, shall we say, less than considerate comments by a respected family member during those years, the battle with weight and self-image became an ongoing struggle for over thirty years.
Those that have/do struggle with what they see in the mirror each day (real or perceived) will understand what he means.
While serving in the armed forces his weight and physical activity remained at a healthy level. Later on, various on again/off again “diets” did the trick too, albeit temporarily.
He was raised in a southern fried household and didn’t really understand healthy eating and nutrition. Of course, who did back then? Not that he’s old.
I was always thin growing up, never struggling with my weight. I was the kid who could eat whatever she wanted, however MUCH she wanted, and never gain weight. I even carried that as a badge of pride!
I assumed I inherited the “good genes” from my mom, blessing me with eternal thinness. The world was my oyster when it came to food, and I indulged! But as many thin girls find out, life catches up to you.
I had my first child at age 20 after gaining 50 pounds (YIKES!). I quickly lost the weight after giving birth, but a few years later, I began gaining weight. I could no longer eat an entire large pizza by myself without worry.
So, for the first time in my life, I experimented with various weight loss methods. I took diet pills that allowed me to continue eating the way I wanted and still lose weight. Then I tried Weight Watchers which also allowed me to eat whatever I wanted as long as I didn’t go over on my “points”. I even tried several 48-hour juice detoxes to drop a quick few pounds before vacation.
But the problem with all of these weight loss methods was they never taught me about food and nutrition. I could make myself skinny again but never considered how what I put into my body was affecting my health on the inside.
Our Stories Converge
When Scott and I met, we were both happy with our weights. Of course, both of us were also practicing unhealthy weight loss methods.
In 2005 we discovered we were pregnant. Yippee!! Exciting news all around. Like my first pregnancy, I gained A LOT of weight, this time 60 pounds. My doctor even tested my thyroid out of concern over my rapid weight gain. It was actually just a pasta issue, thyroid was good.
My husband, out of love and support (we joke), gained quite of bit of “sympathy weight”. Ever the committed spouse.
After my son was born in 2006, we both found ourselves with a lot of weight to lose. And apparently, losing baby weight at 30 years old was more difficult than at 20 years old. No one warned me of that! Well, maybe my doctor did (a few times), but who listens to their doctor, right? My willful ignorance was in full effect!
We both fell back to what we knew had helped us lose weight in the past. Fad diets and diet pills! My weight loss was successful, but my husband was not having as much success.
Scott’s weight yo-yo’d a bit for the next three years, but fighting a losing battle, he found himself heavier than ever. In fact, by 2009, Scott was nearly 60 pounds heavier than when we had met, increasing his weight by 35%, all of it unhealthy weight.
Our old tricks to lose weight were no longer sustainable.
The Turning Point
Scott’s outward weight was not the only problem. After a routine doctor visit, we learned his cholesterol was scary high. His Triglycerides were in the 700s!!! Scott was a ticking time bomb. The doctor told him if he didn’t make a change, he would die. The doctor was quite blunt about it.
Scott joined a gym and hired a personal trainer to kick his butt into gear. The personal trainer (a great friend as well) was happy to work with Scott on his strength and fitness. He was very clear though, that exercise was only 20% of the formula for overall health and fitness. Scott would need to focus on diet, which was the other 80%.
At this point, I wasn’t struggling with my weight, but since the future with my husband was at stake, I couldn’t leave him to go at it alone. This needed to be a joint effort, and it needed to include the whole family. We had a three-year-old and a thirteen-year-old who would be joining us whether they liked it or not.
Not surprising, it was easier to get the three-year-old on board with the new health food kick. The teenager was none too happy about ridding the house of junk food.
Making a Lifestyle Change
To make a significant lifestyle change, we first had to educate ourselves. And thus began our journey of nutritional enlightenment.
With documentaries like “Food Inc.”, we began to learn about what it meant to eat real food. It seems so obvious now, but it never occurred to me at that time that boxed, processed food is full of crap that sometimes isn’t good for us.
My husband used to joke (lovingly) that I didn’t know how to cook anything that didn’t come out of a box. It was only a slight exaggeration.
In 2009, We officially entered our clean-eating phase of life and I learned to cook from scratch with real food. Clean-eating food bloggers such as The Gracious Pantry were immensely helpful in providing easy to make recipes.
Scott and I even had fun learning about portion control, meal prep, and batch cooking. We set aside Sunday afternoons and batch cooked for the entire week. This time together in the kitchen, cooking and trying new recipes, even brought us closer together as husband and wife. We had a common goal and we had fun working to achieve it.
And what’s better than a healthier relationship?! The lifestyle changes were resolving the weight issue as well. It was working! Scott was losing weight, plus we both felt better and had more energy. We were quickly sold on this whole clean-eating lifestyle.
How We Evolved into Low-Carb/Keto Eating
I’m a firm believer that you should never stop learning. And so, our testimony doesn’t end with learning to eat real food. The story of struggling with weight doesn’t stop there either. I wish I could say removing chemical and toxins from our diet led us to our forever happy weight, but it didn’t.
Both of our weights yo-yo’d a bit, and I even ended up at my heaviest weight shortly after turning 40 years old. It should come as no surprise that it’s still possible to overeat and gain weight on a clean diet.
We had rid our bodies of unnecessary chemical and toxins, but our bodies were far from optimal performance. Our next step was to learn how different foods affected our bodies. So, we began experimenting with a few specialty diets.
1. The Daniel Plan
This was my first introduction of eliminating certain foods from my diet. The 10-day Detox portion of this diet has you removing Gluten, Dairy, Sugar, and Caffeine from your diet. After the 10 days, you slowly reintroduce the food items back into your diet to see how your body works. That is about the same amount of time it took me to regain full consciousness from so many days without caffeine…
The 10-day detox was great in theory, but as I would learn a couple of years later, 10 days was not nearly long enough to truly run an elimination experiment. As a result, when adding each of the food elements back in, we did not notice any negative effects.
The Daniel Plan was great in taking us to a new level and we even shed a few unhealthy pounds but didn’t end up being much different from basic clean-eating.
2. The Vegan Diet
Scott had succeeded in lowering his cholesterol numbers by losing weight and was no longer a ticking time bomb, but he was still in the high range. After watching the documentary, “Forks Over Knives”, and reading about how much success some people had lowering cholesterol with a Vegan Diet, I told Scott we should give it a try!
After a bit of hesitation, he agreed to give it a try. In my mind, this was going to revolutionize his health! I envisioned the doctors being amazed at how much he lowered his cholesterol. There was no way this would fail!
The interesting thing about the vegan diet is that when you eliminate animal products, you almost naturally up your carbohydrate intake. It’s not a requirement, but that how it was for us.
And after 6 months of a low-fat, high-carb, vegan diet, we learned that this had the opposite effect of what we were going for. Scott’s cholesterol numbers actually went higher! Talk about a punch to the gut.
So here is what we learned about Scott. His body reacts badly to carbohydrates. When we eliminated animal products from our diet, we naturally increased our carb intake. And that increase in carbs negatively affected his health.
After that epic diet failure, we went back to basic clean eating.
3. The Ketogenic Diet
Never one to give up, after the vegan diet failed us, I began reading up on the Keto Diet. I figured if carbs were bad for Scott, what would happen if we swung in the opposite direction. So in February of 2018, I dove in head first!
I knew Scott would be skeptical about giving up some of his favorite foods (bread, cereal, cake), so I decided to win him over one recipe at a time. And it worked! Once I found keto comfort food recipe swaps for all his favorite foods, he was onboard.
And you know what! We found that a low-carb diet worked great for both of us! We lost weight, felt great, and increased our energy. Add in a healthy dose of exercise, and we both found ourselves in better shape than ever, both in health and outward appearance.
And remember how we didn’t think we had a problem with gluten (back in our Daniel Plan days?) Well, turns out you need to detox from gluten more than 10 days. After 30+ days off the grains, we tried eating bread again, but felt so bad, and were so bloated, that we’ve sworn off wheat for life!
Where We Are Today
We have been on the ketogenic diet for over a year now, and don’t have any plans to change that in the near future. However, we never quit learning, and so I can’t say what our diet will look like one year, five years, or ten years from now. Regardless of how it evolves in the future, be sure I will continue to share our experiences and what works for our family.
While I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all when it comes to how a person eats. I do believe everyone should experiment with their own bodies to find what works best for them.
For us, today at least, the ketogenic diet is what works. We continue to realize positive results.
Do you have a keto diet success story you would like to share? Comment below and let me know if you would like to share your story!