You might not know this about me but I gained over 30 lbs in the past 6 years. Not all at once, but slowly and surely it kept creeping on. I would say the weight gain was due to a few factors: moving to the country and not having gym close-by, settling into the routine of commuting 50 min each way to work, entertaining a lot at our new lake house, work stress, life stress, and of course my chronic pain, fatigue, and other health issues affecting my ability and desire to exercise.
I tried many things to help shed the weight and I would lose 10 – 15 lb here and there, but before long I’d fall off track and gain it all back. The thing is I didn’t feel good at this new weight so much so that it affected my self-esteem and way-of-life. My clothes didn’t fit as I liked, I didn’t enjoy going to certain places (like the beach), and don’t have a lot of photos of me on vacations because I didn’t want to be in them. Of course I didn’t expect to look like I did when I was competing, but I just wanted to get to a place that I felt comfortable again.
In January of this year I decided I had enough and had to make some permanent changes to my lifestyle. My inflammation was at an all time high after indulging too much while on vacation and I knew that if I didn’t do something about it now my mental and physical health would be in a bad place. Thankfully my husband was in a similar situation and was also motivated for change.
I had the initial goal of losing 15 lb, which turned into 20, and now 30. I am feeling the best I have in 6 years and am finally feeling comfortable in my own skin again. Today I’m sharing the most significant changes I’ve made to help me achieve my goals.
The 3 Changes I Made to My Diet:
1) Anti-Inflammatory Elimination Diet
2) Keto (High-Fat/Low-Carb) Lifestyle
3) Intermittent Fasting
Now before I go into more details about these I feel I should add a little disclaimer because I know what some of you might be thinking. I am not giving this advice as a Dietitian or Nutritionist. I actually resigned my membership this year because I felt my views aligned more with natural and holistic nutrition. I am simply sharing what worked for me. I will go into each of these in more detail in a future post, as well as the science behind them. I’ll talk about the “how” later; today let’s focus on the “what” and “why”.
Anti-Inflammatory Elimination Diet:
The elimination diet is what started this whole journey for me. Despite the weight-gain my main goal was to decrease my inflammation and chronic fatigue so I could get back to living my life as I remembered. I had experimented with an elimination diet the year before but didn’t cut out all inflammatory foods entirely (coffee and wine), and the whole thing totally fell apart once I started adding food groups back in. In order for the diet to be the most beneficial you have to add groups back one at a time for 3 days and note your symptoms. If any of your symptoms are feeling worse then you are supposed to cut the food out, and try a different one. I was fine when it came to eggs, and next tomatoes, but it all went downhill once I added dairy back. I mean how can you give me cheese and then take it away again?! This left me knowing dairy was a trigger of mine, but I unfortunately threw in the towel before narrowing it down more.
I came across a book called “Fibromyalgia Freedom” when I was feeling motivated in early January and knew it was important I give it another go. I also decided to document my journey on social media as a way to keep me accountable. I have discovered some new triggers (including coffee, wine, and peppers), and some foods that don’t seam to bother me (eggs, butter, green tea). I’ve been feeling so good however I’ve decided to keep the rest of the “possible” food triggers out for now (like gluten) until I’m ready to experiment again.
Keto (High-Fat/Low Carb) Lifestyle:
I suspect this to be the most controversial thing about this post but hear me out a little. The Keto or Ketosis Diet has become extremely popular over the past few years and everyone is jumping on board. The only issue is that people are not going about it in the right way or not making the right choices. Some are even purchasing expensive supplements which are frankly a waste of money. For that reason even just the name itself comes with a preconceived notion. We’ll get to the right and wrong way in a future post but let me first tell you why I follow a Keto lifestyle.
We actually first tried a Keto diet a year and a half ago when hubby wanted to give it a try. I had only started eating meat a month before and the nutrition student in me cringed at the idea. I wanted to support Dwayne however and had a weight loss goal for an upcoming trip. We didn’t put a lot of research in it at the time but purchased a beginner’s plan by a well-known Keto advocate. We initially both lost quickly but after we finished the plan we wanted to try new recipes to switch it. Cue Keto Pinterest recipes! We really enjoyed what we were eating but a lot of the recipes were high in cream cheese, cream, and cheese. I had heard of people decreasing their inflammation on Keto, but of course I wasn’t since I now know that dairy is a huge trigger of mine. Since our goal for doing Keto at this time was mostly weight-loss we didn’t follow it while on vacation or with company so we slowly gained it back.
We have remained Keto on and off since then but really started researching and experimenting with our macros and what works for us in January. And while I am not going to go into details in this post I will tell you I am not eating any dairy currently and really only consuming one serving of meat a day. All of my fat comes from other sources such as my coconut yogut, avocados, eggs and nuts. In fact I don’t even like to use the term “keto” because of the stigma it comes with. I prefer to call it “high-fat/low-carb” or a “fat adapted lifestyle”. I know that sugar is a huge trigger of mine and I feel a million times better without it. And yes this includes sugar from fruit as well as from other grains, because it all turns to sugar (or glucose) in our bodies.
My anti-inflammatory diet in combination with being fat-adapted has made me feel the best I have in years. I don’t crave any sugar or carbs (I don’t have any cravings really), and it helps to keep our blood sugar levels low which is really the goal for both weight maintenance and overall health. More on that later as well. And before anyone asks you don’t need grains or fruit to meet your nutritional requirements. All you need is protein, veggies (ie carbs) and fat!
Intermittent Fasting or IF has also been getting a lot of attention lately, but it’s certainly not a new eating protocol. I actually did IF for my last fitness competition which was the most enjoyable competition plan I’ve followed. We’ve done it on and off since then, but again really didn’t put as much research or experimentation into it as we should have. Many of the Keto gurus we follow also are big promoters of IF.
We decided to pair our fat adapted lifestyle with intermittent fasting this time because it is the best way to control blood sugars. As I mentioned above this is very important both for weight loss/maintenance and overall health. I will go into scientific detail later but I know what you might be thinking? What about breakfast Krissy? You told me that was the most important meal of the day! And the answer is yes it is, but you don’t have to eat it first thing in the morning. “Break-fast” is simply the first meal you eat to break your fast. Another term for intermittent fasting is “time restricted eating” or in other words eating all of your meals within a certain time frame. There are varying ways to do this and both Dwayne and I follow different eating windows because of what works best for each of us. We make sure we get all of our calories and macros within this window which ensures we meet our nutritional requirements.
Another benefit we enjoy from IF is the amount of time it saves in meal prep. Instead of worrying about eating every 2 – 3 hrs, we have larger meals only a few times a day. It’s also saves us a lot of cost on food because we are consuming calorie dense high-fat foods which means we don’t need as much. There are many out there who see benefits from just doing IF and don’t follow Keto as well. This may be something we try eventually once we are in the maintenance phase but we are feeling great now as is.
And there you have it, the 3 changes I made to my diet to help me lose 30 lb. I realize these are big changes, but each of them have become a lifestyle now since I can’t deny how great I feel.
I’m sure you have lots of questions like: What do you eat in a day? What times do you eat? What do you have for treats? How do you eat out? Do you workout too? And don’t worry I will get to each these. In the meantime I’d love to know what other questions you have an I can add these to the list as well. Please leave a comment below and feel free to share this article with someone that could benefit from it.
Naturally, Krissy – xo