In 2019, Claire was on the road constantly, traveling around the UK in her busy management job. She was sleeping poorly in hotels, grabbing fast food on the road, snacking constantly on cakes and coffee to keep her energy up, and letting her health slide.
She knew she had become morbidly obese but felt powerless to do anything about it. She’d never had any success dieting in the past.
Then, one day while on the move, she almost collapsed. The nurse who took her blood pressure told her that it was sky-high and that she needed to seek medical help immediately at the nearest emergency department.
But Claire was too afraid to learn the truth, so instead of heading to the closest hospital, she went home, cried, and fed her fear with more high carb food. That was her rock bottom.
“I felt so ashamed that I had let myself get to this point. But I pulled myself together and decided that I needed to take action. I plucked up the courage to go to see my GP.”
Her doctor told her about the low carb, keto diet. Intrigued, she decided to try it.
Now, two years later, she has lost 85 pounds (38 kilos) and resolved all of her health problems. She feels happier and healthier than ever.
“I feel so grateful to Diet Doctor. The Diet Doctor community has helped more than I could ever thank them enough for!” says Claire. “Adopting this lifestyle has changed my life completely.”
Claire’s story has been lightly edited.
What’s your name, age, and where do you live?
I’m Claire. I am a 45-year-old mother of three grown-up girls and now a grandmother. I live in the Highlands of Scotland.
How and when did you decide to do low carb or keto?
In 2019 I hit rock bottom. I was at my heaviest weight ever, 275 pounds (125 kilos). I was suffering physically and mentally due to the side effects of being morbidly obese.
Did you have any health or weight struggles before going low carb or keto?
I have struggled all my life with my weight. I had a very active childhood, spending lots of time outdoors, helping look after our family dogs and horses, and helping my parents in the garden.
But I was always overweight. Food was always a comfort for me. When I was sad I would eat. When I was happy I would eat.
My parents used food as a reward and incentive. When we were good, we would get sweet treats or a special meal, and there were always seconds.
Over the years, my weight fluctuated up and down, but I remained overweight. I tried every weight loss diet going. Some of the diets worked in the short term, but the weight always piled back on.
All my dieting attempts were with low calorie, restrictive diets that left me constantly starving, irritable, miserable, and unhappy. That, in turn, led to me resorting to binging and then falling off the wagon.
In 2019, I hit an all-time low in my job as director of care for a residential care company. The job meant that I traveled for work. A typical week would take me all over the UK visiting care homes and attending meetings.
That meant I was spending lots of time in the car, airport, or train station and staying in hotels. I was eating terrible food and getting very little sleep Monday to Friday.
While at work one day, I felt unwell and almost collapsed. The manager of the home was a nurse and checked my blood pressure; it was sky-high. She was so concerned and advised me to go to the A&E [emergency room] to get checked out. I said I would, but I didn’t. I was fearful of the truth.
When I got home, I cried and ate more, as I felt so ashamed that I had let myself get to this point. Then, I pulled myself together and decided that I needed to take action.
I plucked up the courage to see my GP, who confirmed my worst fears: I was morbidly obese. I was also borderline diabetic. I had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and the painkillers I was taking for the pain in my knees were causing damage to my stomach.
My GP discussed a few treatment options and mentioned a low carb, keto diet. She asked me to think about the options and see her again in a week.
I was sure that medication and invasive surgery were not for me. But I was intrigued by my doctor’s suggestion of eating low carb or keto. I had never heard of it, so I started researching, and I was fascinated.
All of a sudden, I didn’t feel alone. I felt like I finally understood why I felt the way I did and how I was addicted to sugar.
What were you eating before making this lifestyle change?
A typical day would look like this
- 5:45 am breakfast — black coffee, two slices of toasted white bread with butter and jam
- 10 am snack — black coffee and a cake from Costa or Starbucks
- 1 pm lunch — chicken sandwich on white bread from the petrol station with diet coke, a large bag of beef hula hoops, and a boost bar
- 3 pm snack — black coffee and a cake or chocolate bar
- 6 pm snack — black coffee and bag of crisps
- 9 pm dinner — macaroni and cheese, garlic bread, and two large glasses of red wine
- drinks would be black coffee, diet coke, and wine 🙈; no water
What does a typical day of eating and/or fasting look like for you now?
How it looks now
- 7 am breakfast — coffee with 1 tbsp of double cream and a large glass of water with a small amount of pink salt
- 1 pm lunch — two large poached eggs with high protein bread, butter, one slice of bacon, and a large glass of water
- 4 pm snack — pork rinds and a herbal tea (usually mint)
- 7 pm dinner — grilled lemon chicken with cauliflower cheese, sugar-free jelly (jello) with a splash of double cream, and a large glass of water
I now limit my coffee intake to one cup in the morning, and I make sure that I drink at least 2.5 quarts (or liters) of water a day. My eating window is from 1 pm to 7 pm, and occasionally (once or twice a month), I will drop it to just one meal a day.
In what ways has your health improved?
- I have lost 85 pounds (38 kilos).
- My blood pressure is now normal.
- My cholesterol is now normal.
- I have stable blood sugar and am no longer borderline diabetic.
- I have no knee pain and do not need painkillers daily.
- I have more energy.
- My sleep quality has improved.
- I am much happier.
What mistakes have you learned from on your journey?
- Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint; take your time, plan, prepare, and never be afraid of failing. Just start again.
- Set small goals, make them part of your daily routine, and embed the change before you set a new goal.
- Be realistic. You and only you can do this. If you want the change, you will make it happen. Don’t do it for others. Do it for yourself. Understand your why and make that a priority.
- Don’t get sucked in by social media or quick fixes. Do your research and trust the process.
What are your favorite Diet Doctor recipes or resources that have helped your success?
There are too many!!! Here are a few recipes that I love:
Keto coconut curry chicken — so delicious!
Keto pimiento cheese meatballs — easy and fast
Keto no-bake chocolate cake — has to be my favorite dessert
Parmesan chips — a great snack
I love the app. It’s great for recipes and ideas to keep things fresh. I really enjoy the success stories and the short videos. Dr. Bret Scher’s podcasts are great to listen to while out for a walk or when in the car. I would love to see more of people’s experiences in a podcast or short-form video.
Has adopting low carb spurred the adoption of other healthy habits you want to share?
Adopting this lifestyle has changed my life completely. I now have the energy to exercise, which I love.
I have cut my alcohol intake to almost zero. I now meditate daily, and my sleep has improved dramatically.
I am strict about getting out into the fresh air every day as it is so good for my mental health.
What are your top three tips for people starting low carb?
- Make a plan and introduce changes one step at a time. Only add the next change once the first one is embedded.
- Be prepared to remove foods and places that you know will trigger poor eating choices.
- Stay hydrated.
- Get out into the fresh air every day.
Final thoughts or takeaway?
Take time to really understand yourself and what you need to succeed!
When undertaking any lifestyle change, it has to be right for you. Don’t get hung up on other people and how they have done it. Sure, listen and take advice. But you are the only person who knows the solution for you.
You have to be prepared to work at it, be consistent, and most of all truthful with yourself.
Eating and living a low carb lifestyle is not for everyone. We are all different, but the only way to know if it’s for you is to make a plan to try it.
Diet Doctor has helped more than I could ever thank them enough for! I am so grateful for the DD community and the support it gives to me and others like me.
~ Congratulations, Claire, on your dramatic transformation and newfound health and wellness. Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story.
~ Anne Mullens