“I’ve never felt or been better!”
Chris had been a large individual since his youth, and throughout his life he had lost weight multiple times before inevitably rebounding. Not that long ago, however, he found himself scouring keto success stories on Reddit. Even though they certainly sparked his interest, he never thought that he would be able to give up carbs.
At his wit’s end in March, he made the decision to give it a try. This is what happened:
Well to start, my name is Chris and I’m originally from a small town in Southern NH. I’ve always been a large individual; I was 180 pounds (82 kg) in the fourth grade and 350 lbs (159 kg) as a senior in high school. I had herniated disks in my back, L4 & L5, when I was 11 years old and had to wear a back brace for 6 months. I was always active playing sports and football has always been my favorite. I was too heavy to play as a kid in pop warner, but I did play all four years of high school football.
I ended up having a right knee surgery my senior year to repair meniscus damage I had from a dirty block I took early in the football season. The summer after my senior year I lost about 70 lbs (32 kg) working outside and cutting out soda, I was “a slim 280 lbs (127 kg)”. I was proud of myself; I was just starting college and felt like a new man, I even found a girlfriend! My back began giving me a great deal of trouble to the point where I couldn’t stand, sit or lay down without shooting pains down my leg all the way into my ankle. I had a laminectomy for pinched sciatic in my back shortly after starting college at UMass Lowell, which ultimately made me drop out because of my recovery. This was the beginning of a recurring cycle in my life where I would lose a great deal of weight, get hurt or injured, and spiral into great depression and blow up like a balloon again. This happened in 2006, 2011, 2017 and each time I had lost more than 70 pounds (32 kg) each time.
The lowest I was able to get to was 235 pounds (107 kg) in 2011, where I was using PEDs and busting my butt at the gym 6 days a week for at least 2 hours each day AND I would have two separate cardio sessions every day. I eventually got hurt and spent three months going to doctors for my back, before seeing a great back specialist in Lowell who formerly worked on Michael J. Fox. He examined me, gave me some bad news for down the road (hips, knees, more back surgeries), but he wanted me to get an MRI on my knee and I thought this guy was a crackpot. Turns out he wasn’t, and my right knee was absolutely shredded. I dodged a major bullet during surgery and my recovery time went from a year to two months, but I had already slipped into deep depression months ago and started abusing alcohol and recreational drugs.
I didn’t have the greatest childhood growing up, my parents were both extreme alcoholics and I was basically raised in a bar. I was never given any steady routines and my dinners were often a pack of Oreos and a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola. I lost my mother when I was 8 to cancer and it not only ruined my life, but it destroyed my entire family. Family roles were blurred and my sisters took on the heavy burden of trying to raise a large and volatile young boy, and they were still kids themselves. Sadly, we all had to grow up far faster than we should have. I mention this piece because it may be the biggest key to unlocking my newly found healthy lifestyle, but it all started with KETO!I had been lurking on Reddit’s keto sub for about 8 months and seeing everybody’s success really made me want to try it out, but I NEVER thought I could actually give up carbs. I would think about creamer in my coffee, pasta, bread, home fries, and of course, ALL the sugar and how I could possibly give it all up.
I had fallen into another deep depression and was on the verge of losing a job that I worked extremely hard to get. I literally couldn’t leave my house and was paralyzed with so much anxiety. I hated myself so very much, I cry just thinking about those days. On March 7th 2019, I decided if I was going to be fat and lazy on the couch all day every day, I might as well TRY and not eat carbs. I was 300 pounds (136 kg) at the start of my keto journey.
I kid you not; I lost close to 20 pounds (9 kg) in about two weeks, with no exercise other than short walks with my dog to do his business. And then it happened, my head was clear and I knew what I needed to do, something I had put off for a long time. I went and saw a mental health provider that led me to a psychiatrist, who quickly diagnosed me with bipolar II and PTSD stemming from early childhood trauma and additional trauma that followed me throughout my adult life as well. I truly believe keto helped save my life and led me to some answers I desperately needed.
What did you personally do in your first 10 days of keto?
I swapped the sugary delicious creamer in my coffee for coconut oil, which may not sound like much, but I was drinking a minimum of four cups a day. That’s a ton of sugar that I’m literally just starting my day with. I stopped eating the bread, all the bread. Took out the milk and cereal that was a staple in my life. I struggle with the hungry horrors late at night, so I replaced the sweets with pepperoni and cheese. Eggs, bacon, breakfast sausage, deli meats and bun-less bacon cheeseburgers become my life. After the 10 days, salads and veggies got incorporated and I finally gave up drinking.
Do you count and track macros strictly?
Heck no! I really just try to keep myself under 20 g of carbs a day. I guess they call it lazy/dirty keto.
How has your life changed since going keto?I’ve never felt or been better! My head is clear and my energy levels are through the roof. My confidence and self-esteem are 100% better and I can hardly recognize myself from just three months ago. My back, feet and knees all feel better and I can actually sleep throughout the night. Keto single handedly pulled me out of one of the darkest places I’ve ever been in my life.
Have you ever encountered a plateau? If so, how did you get over it?
I actually just hit my first plateau almost four months in after losing 48 pounds (22 kg). I just started back at the gym and I think it’s mainly my body converting into muscles. I pay close attention to the scale, but I love the NSV (no scale victories) so much more. It wasn’t until putting the before and afters together I really saw how much my body is changing. I’ve heard many people talk about using IF (intermitting fasting, 18:6) as a way to break through plateaus.
What is your WHY or drive to keep on track and stay focused?
Honestly seeing how much my father is struggling in his not so old of age is a big motivating factor for me to live a healthier lifestyle. He’s 72 years young and can’t walk. He doesn’t have a condition that is hindering him; he just never took care of himself and has given up. I refuse to accept that kind of fate.
What is your favorite keto recipe?
Hmmm I like easy so a roast beef and cheese rollup is so wonderfully simple and delicious! I also love chicken parm with or without spaghetti squash and low-carb sauce.
What advice would you give someone who is just starting out on keto?
First and foremost, please love yourselves, I can’t stress this enough. Don’t worry about ketosis and whether you’re in it or out of it, just take it slowly and watch your carb intake daily. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on the next day, none of us are perfect!
Congratulations Chris, that’s a powerful story! I hope your head will stay clear and your energy levels high, so that you can reach your life goals and keep inspiring others.
/ Andreas Eenfeldt, MD
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