Becoming Skinny April
Becoming Skinny April
The "why" behind losing 138 pounds in less than 1 year
November 17, 2018
For as long as I can remember I have felt like a skinny girl trapped in a fat body, destined to be fat forever. In 4th grade, I began rapidly expanding, and by 5th grade, I’m sure I was considered morbidly obese. Before my childhood weight gain, I was a sassy carefree free-spirited child that didn’t notice and didn’t have time to care about the size of her little body.
I didn’t notice how different my body really was until one day on the playground. A few girls and boys had started a fun little game I call “catch and kiss” where the goal is for the boys to catch an evading girl and give her a kiss. These games popped up all the time and as random and sporadic as they were, I was never invited to play. But before I knew it, there was a cute boy barrelling towards me as I stood dumbstruck on the blacktop. I regained my sense and turned to run away squealing. I glanced back and stopped when I saw him deadpan staring at me. I gave him a confused look, and he sneered, “who would want to kiss you?” He turned on his heel and ran away to catch some other girl. Shock rapidly turned to devastation, and I ran away to a corner of the playground and cried. And with that one little phrase, I knew how different I was.
More bullying and body shaming ensued throughout those formative years. My step-father found joy in calling me Miss Piggy. Classmates just came right out and called me fat. I didn’t start dating until I was 16. My first relationship, my first love, was plagued by insecurity and anxiety over my appearance. I doubted his interest in me. I told myself that an ugly fat tomboy could never be loved. My internal dialogue was a stream of insults aimed squarely at my body. Somewhere around this time, I started exploring my body through photography. I wanted to see if the camera captured what I saw; if it would confirm my inner hate-fueled dialogue. Instead, I found myself appreciating the parts of my whole. Amazed at what the camera captured I began the long, uphill journey towards loving my verbally beaten body.
The last time I attempted to “get fit! eat right! be healthy!” started Feb. 2015 and I went from about 330 lbs to 288 lbs in 4 months. 288 is my first goal on keto, obvs. (More on goals later) That was using the SAD (Standard American Diet) diet approach meaning healthy carbs lots of fruits and vegetables and low fat. My husband even did it with me and lost about the same as I did! I also worked out, doing HITT, walking a lot, running, biking, and jumping around my damn living room like a fool. TLDR; I worked my ass off for that weight loss.
I was so proud though because the last time I weighed less than 300 (barely) was because I stopped eating solid food as I mourned my first marriage. Not exactly the healthiest way to lose weight and it was effortless tossing it right back on. But then summer hit and the humidity made me lazy so I didn’t exercise anymore but I did manage to maintain my high 200s weight until this summer. I was fired from my first “real” job, and that’s all she wrote. As a recovering bulimic I binged on my feelings, and the weight quickly jumped back up to 330 lbs by the time I found employment again in October.
Unsatisfied with my pudgier body, I circled back to keto. It wasn’t a new concept for me. I don’t remember when exactly I learned of this low carb high-fat miracle, but at the time my sugar addiction controlled my decision to skip that WOE. After watching the Fathead documentary, I was convinced. Thanksgiving was fast approaching, so I hemmed and hawed about when I would start. After Thanksgiving, and the subsequent bloat, I quietly did a soft start to eating keto friendly foods. The next day, in a moment of hungry weakness due to being unprepared, I hit McD’s on the way home and gorged myself. I felt disgusting, but it was just the push I needed to commit wholeheartedly on November 30.
For the first couple of months, I focused on eliminating foods that did not fit the ketogenic guidelines and switching my body into fat-burning mode. Fortunately, I did not experience the keto flu, or carb/sugar withdrawal as I call it, like a lot of people suffer from in the beginning. Eating a ketogenic diet has always felt super easy for me. It came naturally, and my body responded surprisingly well. When people ask how I stay motivated or resist temptation, I don’t have a good answer. Ketogenic foods just make me feel better, so I don’t have to think twice about eating anything else.
After losing about 40 lbs, on Feb. 4, 2018, I made the decision to really buckle down on my fitness (ha!) and purchased Nerd Fitness. One of the “quests” is to write down your why. Well, I had a whole long list of why. When I sat down to write this list, it flowed effortlessly. It was as natural as breathing. Reading what I had come up with was a self-reflection I had not expected.
(MY WHY) I want to…
- find myself attractive again
- fit in an airplane seat comfortably and without needing an extender (no spillage onto the next seat, with the armrest down and NOT digging into my flesh, maybe even with *gasp* room to spare on the seat!)
- fit on any rollercoaster in the world
- sit in any chair without worrying about my damn hips fitting
- walk briskly uphill without getting winded
- run a 5k, then a half-marathon, then a marathon
- bike 100 miles in a single day
- bike up a steep hill without needing to stop
- walk into any women’s clothing store and find things that fit my body
- wear boots that aren’t wide calf
- be light enough that my husband can easily pick me up and carry me a few feet
- be able to cross my legs while sitting
- see my collarbones again
- be able to wrap a standard size towel around my body without any gapping
- remove FAT as a descriptor of my body
- live a long and healthy life
- solve world hunger
Although I did not stick to the fitness plan, because I kinda suck at sticking to plans period, I’m glad I purchased NF for the “why” exercise if nothing else. I really appreciate that they promote whole foods, low-carb nutrition and make the information accessible to people on so many different levels. As far as fitness is concerned, I make a considerable effort to close my Apple Watch rings (stand, exercise, and move) every day but I also don’t freak out of I don’t. I understand that sometimes I just need rest. Weather permitting, and sunlight permitting, I take brisk walks on my lunch hour, and walk the dogs in the evening. This past spring I ran several times a week until the weather became unbearable. I also enjoy road biking and hiking, weather permitting. If you haven’t noticed a theme here, the theme is that I am a fair-weather gal. When the weather is nice, I like to be outside; otherwise I’m hanging out where it’s warm, cool, or dry. Most recently my fitness plan has been a 12-15 minute strength circuit done 4-5 times a week, but that routine has been thrown off due to special events, so all bets are off when it comes to me starting that back up after the holidays.
In the almost year since I started keto I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what I eat, if I fast, how long I fast, what my macros are, etc, etc. I can say with 100% confidence that I do and eat what is best for me. And I wholeheartedly believe that what is best for me probably doesn’t work for you.
How I eat now is very different from when I first started and looks different from what I was doing 3 months ago. I’m continually re-evaluating and experimenting with eating patterns and calorie intake. After tracking my weight almost every day for nearly a year, I can say one thing with certainty. I know nothing about how or when the body decides to show a loss on the scale.
Here’s a rundown of what I did in first 9 months or so of keto. I started by tracking everything I ate and stayed within my macros (which I calculated using an average of several highly recommended keto calculators) as much as possible. Once my body started becoming fat adapted I was able to incorporate Intermittent and extended fasting which helped me a lot when I had a lot of weight to lose. The longest extended fast I did was 60 hours, but my average was 36 hours. If I was not doing an extended fast, I ate on either an OMAD (one meal a day) schedule or a 16/8 schedule where I ate my meals in an eight-hour window. I recalculated my macros every so often but not nearly as much as I probably should have. After a few months, I stopped tracking except sporadically for a few days at a time to make sure I wasn’t going over on calories. I’m the type of person that finds long-term tracking super stressful. As far as eating off plan, sometimes I ate french fries or onion rings, but for the most part, I stayed away from my old favorite foods. My weight loss slowed dramatically when I hit the 210s in August 2018, 9 months into keto.
Now that I’m within 40 lbs of my goal weight, I find it much harder to do extended, day-long fasts all the time. I still incorporate them on occasion (maybe once a month), but if I get hungry, I eat. Right now I eat two or three meals a day, but sometimes it’s a meal and a snack. I’m still learning, but I try to practice intuitive eating as much as possible. Sometimes I track my food if I want to gauge how I’m doing but 90% of the time I track nothing. I’m not strict with my carbs or calories since I know my body is fat adapted and I have some metabolic flexibility. If there is free food at work, and it’s something I would enjoy, I’ll eat it but fast for my other meals or have a small keto snack to supplement calories. Being so close to my goal I’m slowly preparing myself for maintenance by allowing for some off plan foods on occasion if they make sense. For me, enjoying a small serving of artisan handmade ice cream, or one of grandma’s Christmas cookies, is entirely different from my old habits of bingeing on a gallon of cheap vanilla ice cream or a whole bag of pepperidge farm cookies. My goal in losing this weight, besides losing the weight, was to gain food freedom. Before keto, I felt controlled my food, by my hunger, my cravings, my insatiable desires, and I wanted so badly to break that hold. Now that I have, I would never want to jeopardize that freedom, or my energy, or my newfound health, by going back to the Standard American Diet.
I still have so much to learn. And this new body is still changing, a little more slowly than before, but she’s still in metamorphosis, waiting to burst forth at the right moment. If I had one piece of advice to give someone, because that’s always asked for, it’s to figure out your why and then commit. Commit to finding what works for you. Commit to the experimentation. Commit to your health, your goals, your WHY. Commit, follow through, and believe in your power to change. Amazing things will happen.