‘I feel alive — and the slim, energetic person has finally been released’

sacha

Sacha’s health went downhill after she first started experiencing unrelenting fatigue in her teenage years.

After that, she added weight gain, gut issues, depression, brain fog, and many other symptoms to her list of health concerns. She tried everything under the sun and spent loads of money on improving her health.

Still, nothing worked.

But in 2013, Sacha came across a Diet Doctor article, saying that a low-carb diet could potentially reduce gallstones (another health concern that plagued her).

Soon after, she cleaned out the carbs from her kitchen and began her low-carb journey.

Keep reading to find out why Sacha thinks low carb ‘has been life-changing’, how she found the remarkable last piece of the puzzle, and why she encourages others never to give up.

Sacha’s story has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Sacha’s keto journey

My name is Sacha. I’m 51 years old and live in Scotland, just outside Edinburgh.

I want to share my story to let others know that no matter how hard it gets, you should never give up on looking for answers to your health issues.

From the age of 14 or 15, I started to suffer from fatigue. It got worse as the years went on. In my 20s, I was diagnosed with depression and given antidepressants.

I felt down. My personality is otherwise optimistic and positive, and I had so much going for me, but the tiredness got in the way. Without it, I wouldn’t have been depressed.

As the years went on, I found strategies to deal with my fatigue. Still, it never went away, and my quality of life took a hit. I didn’t go out much since I was too tired after work. I also let go of many job opportunities because I didn’t have the energy to pursue them.

I was always heavy, and as I got older, especially after having kids, my weight went up and up. It didn’t matter how “healthy” I ate. I still struggled to lose weight.

Over time, I started to develop other health issues: IBS, gallstones, hair loss, brain fog, and heartburn. I went back and forth to the doctor, and I even paid money to see an endocrinologist who told me that although he believed something wasn’t right, science hadn’t gotten that far yet!

I went to a sleep clinic. I saw an endocrinologist, a gastroenterologist, and other doctors. I spent money on alternative medicine, private medicine, and lots of other strange and wonderful things. Still, nothing helped.

At one point, I was cycling 100 miles a week, commuting to and from work, eating 1,400 calories a day with everything logged on Strava and my Myfitnesspal. I even had a heart rate monitor to prove I was cycling hard and making an effort. Still, I only experienced a minimal change in energy or weight.

People thought that I was lying about what I was eating, and it was so demoralizing.

Sometimes, I cried cycling to work because I was so tired and couldn’t understand why. I cried often. It felt so unfair as I was such a positive, life-loving person, and this battle was wearing me down. I felt like I had this slim, energetic person trapped inside of me, and the switch to let her out was permanently turned off.

Tragically, my dad died in 2013 at the age of 71. He had type 2 diabetes and vascular parkinsonism disease. I knew I was heading that way as he had similar issues to me in his 30s and 40s. I didn’t want to end up like that since his trajectory had been heartbreaking to watch.

Around the same time, I had an appointment to get my gallbladder out because of debilitating gallbladder attacks. I then came across an article on the Diet Doctor website, which stated that eating low fat can cause gallstones.

Soon after, I changed my diet and started eating more fat and ended up canceling the procedure because the attacks went away. I then began to look at other information on the Diet Doctor website and started my low-carb journey.

I read book after book and researched low carb and keto in depth. I started cutting out grains and most forms of sugar. Within weeks, the IBS disappeared. I went lower-carb and then keto. My health got better and better, and I lost 65 pounds (29 kilos).

Even though I had more energy, I still felt tired. I went to see a functional medicine practitioner who said I was eating too few carbs and recommended me to eat a morning smoothie with bananas and increase my vegetable intake. I did that, and within days I had horrendous cravings. I paid nearly $1,200 (or £900) to see her and get all the tests!

I then went through a stressful time trying to do a post-graduate qualification on top of full-time work and bringing up two kids. I put a lot of weight back on, and it took seven months to get back on track.

In July 2016, I subscribed to Diet Doctor. I found Dr. Jason Fung‘s information and started fasting. It was like discovering the final piece of the puzzle, like finding the holy grail. Within six months of intermittent fasting, I’d lost weight again, and my energy levels started to soar.

Stretch marks I’d had for years faded, and all my aches and pains disappeared, too. I started waking up early in the morning on my days off (which I’d never done in my life). At first, I didn’t know what to do and thought, ‘What does a person do at 8:30 am on Saturdays?!’

I’d never been up at that time unless I had a reason to get up. I was always chasing the sleep I felt I’d not had. Psychologically, it took a few weeks to get used to being up early on my days off. When I cycle or drive to work, I feel excited because I’m awake with no fatigue and brain fog. It’s a fantastic feeling. I feel alive — and the slim, energetic person has finally been released. It’s been life-changing.

In 2017, I applied for and was offered a job as a full-time lecturer, teaching young people and adults with additional support needs in a college. I would never have applied for that before as I didn’t have the energy required to do the job. I went camping and mountain biking around Scotland with my son last summer. I couldn’t have even done that in my 20s!

I’m human and can still go off track a bit, mostly if I’m stressed. Occasionally, I’ve eaten too many carbs or drank too much wine. I’m unquestionably a sugarholic. But with time, I’ve slipped less and less as it’s not worth it due to the accompanying aches, pains, and weight gain.

I’ve also adopted better coping strategies such as daily meditation and yoga. But compared to how I used to eat before, an odd lapse eating oatcakes and chocolate is not even on the same scale as the number of carbs I used to eat. Interestingly, the tiredness hasn’t come back, so I’ve reset something in my body.

I’ve experimented with different amounts of fat, carbs, and protein over the years, and I’m now mostly carnivore (although I eat some dairy and the odd raspberry). I feel fantastic eating this way and have virtually no cravings. I eat within a two to six-hour window and occasionally do a longer fast for the health benefits.

Thanks to people like Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, Dr. Fung, and other experts, not only have I got a new life, but I’ve probably added lots of healthy years onto it. I’m now no longer heading for type 2 diabetes and other carb-related health issues. I will now no longer end up like my late father.

I had the privilege of meeting both Dr. Eenfeldt and Dr. Fung at the PHC Conference in Manchester a few years ago and thanked them both personally. I’ll be eternally grateful to them both.

To anyone else starting on your journey to health, be kind to yourself and don’t ever give up. I love the motto “Progress, not perfection,” and I say it to myself often.

Comment

Congrats on your success Sacha. I really appreciate your message of never giving up. That is so important to remember!
Best,
/ Dr. Bret Scher

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