Elisia had tried the low-carb diet years ago and found it was very effective for a wide range of her health issues.
But eventually, she went back to her old, high-carb ways of eating and the health issues returned.
When her husband, Greg, developed diabetes and was told he would never get off insulin, it was time to try again.
This time they did it as a couple, and together lost more than 100 combined pounds (45 kilos). Both of them experienced revitalized health and wellness, too.
“We can keep up with grandchildren and often have more energy than our children,” Elisia says.
“This lifestyle is incredibly easy and has improved our lives immensely. We only wish we had started it sooner.”
Elisia and Greg’s story has been lightly edited.
What’s your name, age, and where do you live?
We are Elisia (age 57) and Greg (age 63). We live in Columbus, Georgia.
How and when did you decide to do low carb or keto?
I, Elisia, started with South Beach and the Atkins diets while working as a nurse in cardiac rehab around 2013. The effects were amazing on my health, especially after just being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and asthma.
But eventually, I went back to my old ways. And with it returned the pain, mood issues, breathing trouble, and poor energy, plus GI issues.
My husband developed diabetes and was on insulin. His HbA1c was up to 14%! His doctor told him he would never get off insulin.
So we started low carb again in 2018 to lose weight and improve our health. We went off and on the diet a few times. When we were on the diet his insulin needs quickly decreased, a few times to a scary low blood sugar. So it is really important to note that. He was not watching or decreasing his injections as I instructed (I am a nurse of 26 years). People have to know that.
Between the two of us, we lost more than 100 pounds (45 kilos). But most of all, our health improved.
Now he is off insulin, his HbA1c is 6, and his health markers have improved. I have more energy, I am off my asthma meds, and I have less brain fog and pain!
It is a way of life for us now! We can keep up with grandchildren and often have more energy than our children.
This lifestyle is incredibly easy and has improved our lives immensely. We only wish we had started it sooner.
Did you have any health or weight struggles before going low carb or keto?
We both had extra weight and I had been a yo-yo dieter all my life. My highest weight was 210 pounds (95 kilos). I had fibromyalgia, arthritis, and asthma, which were affecting my well-being physically and emotionally. My blood pressure was borderline and I had severe reflux.
My husband had diabetes and loved his ice cream and goodies, but always felt good. That was the problem. His highest weight was 204 pounds (92 kilos).
What were you eating before making this lifestyle change
We both loved rice, whole grain bread, and pasta. As a cardiac nurse, I cooked low fat and believed that grains were healthy — or so we thought.
But I now realize that all that teaching and practicing for cardiovascular health and decreasing inflammation was wrong! Our own health journey is proof of that!
What does a typical day of eating and/or fasting look like for you now?
I make Greg a batch of keto coconut waffles weekly that he keeps in the freezer and just pops in the toaster every morning.
I drink black coffee with stevia. I just recently stopped using cream since I was overindulging and my weight loss stalled.
During the week, we both eat a salad topped with tuna, eggs, meats, or bacon with homemade blue cheese dressing for lunch. We enjoy low-carb yogurt most days of the week.
Snacks are low-carb beef sticks, cheese, or nuts.
Dinner consists of some meat, poultry, or fish with vegetables. We enjoy frothy almond milk with cinnamon and stevia after dinner, yum!
I do intermittent fasting of 16:8 most days. My husband does not, but his blood sugar numbers are much better when he does.
Our weekend meals vary and are usually only one or two meals a day on the weekends.
We rarely eat out except when we travel and have to admit that we usually miss home-cooked low-carb meals.
In what ways has your health improved?
Now, I have minimal or no pain and brain fog. I enjoy having mental clarity. My breathing and mood have improved. In addition, my GI problems were resolved. My blood pressure is lower and I no longer need medication for reflux or asthma.
Greg’s neuropathy in his feet has decreased immensely and sometimes he does not experience it at all. His HbA1c is down and he no longer needs insulin.
Both of our triglycerides are low and our HDL is high. Our weight and belly fat decreased. We both have improved energy.
What mistakes have you learned from on your journey?
Splurging and eating processed, high-carb food will increase cravings. Eating higher carbs is especially harmful in the beginning when you are not fat adapted.
I also believe it is best to limit products with nut flour and any sweeteners because, at least for us, these products increase cravings and limit success. Even sugar-free gum can increase cravings for me.
Adjusting to a new lifestyle takes some work and the formation of new habits. We had many lapses in our diet but we kept listening to podcasts, reading books, following Diet Doctor, and learning new recipes and practices. In other words, we stayed focused, listened to success stories, and continued to learn.
Getting started is always the hardest, especially in the first three days. I felt I needed to closely monitor my carb intake and drink my fluids while replenishing my electrolytes, especially sodium and magnesium.
Giving in to a temptation always required so much work to get back on track. We checked our blood sugar and ketones in the beginning. We now will indulge in keto/low-carb treats on special occasions.
Do you think exercise is necessary for success on low carb?
Getting outdoors and staying active is important, as is stretching and weight training, but it’s not needed for success. One will naturally increase movement and be motivated to do more as health improves. I believe one must first focus on food choices.
How did Diet Doctor help your journey?
We love so many things about Diet Doctor!
Our favorite recipes
Keto no-noodle chicken soup
Made with healing bone broth, this keto chicken no-noodle soup with healthy cabbage is warm and comforting when it’s cold outside, when you’re fighting a cold, or you just crave a hearty soup!
Keto Italian cabbage stir-fry
This keto Italian cabbage stir-fry is a super simple and easy to make keto meal. Dairy free and family friendly, the perfect weekday dinner.
What are your tips for people starting low carb?
- Eat real food when you’re hungry and do not fear fat for the first few days or weeks. At first, you want your cravings to diminish and then you will notice you don’t need to eat so frequently. When that happens you can eventually add intermittent fasting.
- Plan your meals consistently and simply in the beginning, and limit treats and nut flour until you become more fat adapted. What you tend to overeat, you may need to limit, even if it is low carb or keto. For me that is cheese and nuts. I feel monitoring your carb intake is very important in the beginning.
- Magnesium supplements are important, along with extra salt. Salt is actually really good in coffee.
- Monitoring your ketones and blood sugar, at least when you start, assists you in understanding how your food choices affect these markers.
Final thoughts or takeaway?
This new low-carb lifestyle has improved so many lives! Food truly is medicine, which can be used to feed our bodies to obtain health and reduce illness, mentally and physically. We have discovered how good this lifestyle can make us feel. I fear for all the young people so dependent upon processed foods.
Still, too many choose to rely on medicine and healthcare, but we need to first start with the basics, which include nutrition. It is very difficult for people to give up unhealthy food choices they enjoy. And so many have unfortunately formed many ingrained habits/memories around those choices that harmfully affect us metabolically in so many ways. However, once you start eating real food you realize what tasty food actually is. My low-carb chocolate treats are so much better than anything in the candy aisle.
As a nurse working in the hospital, I see much too frequently, orange juice, pancakes, and other non-nutritious carb meals served to our patients. We have a long way to go in effecting change in the medical team/community!
But with the help of Diet Doctor and many others out there trying to create change, we will get there!!
Thank you for reading and good luck on your health journey!
Elisia and Greg, we love hearing about couples who have adopted the low-carb lifestyle together, and both experienced transformative results. Your stories will inspire others to try. It can be fun trying it with a partner and friend and seeing how you both do. Congratulations on your great results.