Suzanne felt ashamed of her appearance and her inability to lose weight, especially since she was a health professional in a leadership role.
After her annual checkup in 2020, she learned she had metabolic syndrome. Her doctor wanted to put her on another drug for high pressure and metformin for prediabetes.
“I realized if not now, when? In September 2020, I decided to stop putting barriers in my own way and lose the weight,” Suzanne says.
She is now 30 pounds (14 kilos) lighter, off all high blood pressure medications, and no longer has any need for the metformin or her antidepressant. She is happily riding bikes with her grandchildren.
“I think my depression was driven by my battle with my weight and how I felt about my appearance,’ Suzanne says.
Her story has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
What’s your name, age, and where do you live?
My name is Suzanne, I’m 65 years old and I split my time between Lexington, Kentucky, where I grew up, and Elmhurst, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where my grandchildren live.
How and when did you decide to do low carb or keto?
Following my annual check-up in 2020, my medical record in the patient portal said “metabolic syndrome.”
My BMI put me in the obese category; I was on three blood pressure medications, an antidepressant, and a statin. My health care provider told me I needed to go on metformin and possibly another medicine for blood pressure.
With that “metabolic syndrome” diagnosis came self-ascribed shame. It was official: I had “let myself go.” I’m a nurse; “I know better.”
I’d privately been ashamed of my appearance for years. I hated going out for any occasion and would always buy something new in hopes of looking thinner. But the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome set me on the journey of self-care.
My daughter, who is a mental health therapist, told me people have to want something bad enough to push past all the barriers they put in their own way. She followed it up with “if not now, when?”
I could not get that out of my head. In the midst of the pandemic, I realized if not now, when? In September 2020, I decided to stop putting barriers in my own way and lose the weight.
I’d had success with the Atkins diet back in the 1990s, but had I stopped because of the health communities’ warnings about the fat content of the Atkins diet and its impact on heart health.
I decided to investigate what the “current keto craze” was all about. Luckily, I came across the Diet Doctor site. The articles supporting the science coupled with references directly linking to the research/journal were exactly what I needed to start down the keto/low-carb eating path.
Did you have any health or weight struggles before going low carb or keto?
I started struggling with my weight in my 30s after my children were born. In my 40s, I took on more and more responsibility at work. Before I knew it, fast food was my breakfast and lunch every day. Dinner was still healthy because I would never feed that diet to my children or my husband!
I got up to 200 pounds several times. Each time I would join Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig and even the HMR Fasting program. Once I had fleeting success with Noom, an app that is basically calories-in-and-calories-out and eating a lot of fiber to stay full.
Even though I would lose 10 to 20 pounds, I never felt better and my clothes fit only minimally better. And of course, I was always hungry and always fighting with myself and ashamed when I went off the program.
What does a typical day of eating and/or fasting look like for you now?
I retired four years ago after 38 years of working as a registered nurse. The last 15 years of my career were spent in nursing administration which meant being at the hospital very early — most days before 6:30 am!
Since I retired, I love still having my personal reading and planning time in the early morning hours and savoring a cup of coffee.
At first, I was drinking coffee with full-fat cream and loving it. And that worked for me for a while. Now, I start my day at 7 am with two to three cups of coffee but with half & half (10% fat). I don’t eat breakfast most days.
Lunch is around 1 to 2 pm which is typically baked, broiled, or grilled chicken, beef, or fish with a small salad. I use apple cider vinegar and olive oil for salad dressing and will sometimes add a sprinkle of sunflower seeds or a few pecans to the salad.
Dinner is usually around 7 pm. I usually cook two of the Diet Doctor dinner recipes on Sundays. By making 4 servings, I always have enough dinners for the weekdays and can rotate so I don’t get too tired of the dish before the week’s end. My go-to “need something to crunch” option is chicharrones (fried pork skins).
My fast period is typically 8 pm to 1 pm. Though some might say the half & half in my coffee breaks the fast. It has worked for me.
In what ways has your health improved?
I have lost 30 pounds (14 kilos) and kept it off.
My blood pressure went so low that I was having syncopal (fainting) episodes before we realized why I was so dizzy and lightheaded! So I am off all my blood pressure medications and my HbA1c has normalized to less than 5.
I feel so much better — tons of energy. My IBS no longer plagues me. One unexpected health outcome is that I have been off my antidepressant for nine months without even a glimmer of the depression I once felt.
I think that depression was driven by my battle with my weight and how I felt about my appearance.
What mistakes have you learned from on your journey?
Stay away from the scale! Instead, measure everything — wrists, biceps, waist, thighs, and ankles! One day you will wake up and think “wow my arm looks thin!” And it is so nice to have the data to support that yes indeed, your arm is thinner!
If you have a slip-up, just get back on the very next meal — don’t torment yourself with feelings of shame and failure.
Give it time, and don’t let the scale derail you!
Do you think exercise is necessary for success on low carb?
I think exercise is necessary to maintain your health. I am 65 and muscle wasting is very common in people of my age! So lifting weights for me is simply to maintain my strength.
I walk every day because it lifts my mood and my body feels better when I keep moving. But I do not think exercising to lose weight is necessary on low carb. My philosophy is to keep moving or you won’t be able to move — and do something every day.
What are your top three tips for people starting low carb?
- Find a support group of like-minded people.
- Follow a proven meal plan or recipes at the start — it takes the guesswork out of whether or not you are “doing it right!”
- Decide to take care of yourself — now.
Final thoughts or takeaway
Finding the Diet Doctor site helped me to regain my health, feel good about the skin I am in, and maintain an active lifestyle.
I can garden, hike, go on extended bike rides with friends and short bike rides with my precious grandchildren. And I never hesitate to go out with friends or to an event because of my appearance.
Who would have thought that 30 pounds gone would make such a difference? This is simply a way of eating for me now — not a diet!
Suzanne, your success at losing weight, getting off medications, and overcoming depression is inspiring. And you’ve given your grandchildren the gift of your energetic and healthy presence. Congratulations.