Keto success story: “I finally found my way”
Amy was only seven years old when someone first implied that she was fat and needed to lose weight. That marked the start of a frustrating and demoralizing 40-year merry-go-round of fruitless advice and being fed the message that she was broken.
At her wit’s end in early 2017, after failing with every diet she had ever tried, she decided to go through with weight-loss surgery. Just weeks before the surgical appointment, however, she came across low carb and Diet Doctor.
After diving into the two-week keto challenge, the effects were so profound that she cancelled her appointment. Today she is 145 lbs (66 kg) lighter.
Curious about how she did it and the insights she has reached from her journey? Here she shares her story in her own words:
I was 7 years old the first time I remember tagging along with my mother to her weekly Weight Watchers meeting. While my mom nervously stepped on the scale, the receptionist peered at me over her glasses and commented on my weight. I was seven years old. She spelled out something so I wouldn’t understand, but I vividly recall asking my mother later on for a word that meant fat that started with an “o” – I didn’t know exactly what the receptionist had spelled out, but even at that young age I understood the context from her tone and had already internalized the message.
What followed was 40+ years of awful advice from just about every weight loss expert in the New York City area. I tried everything, occasionally losing some weight, but never keeping it off for more than a few months. (I recently wrote about this painful journey in a blog post on the website of obesity and weight loss specialist Dr. Tro Kalayajian, portions of which appear here.)Over and over, year after year, I was told by a broken system that promoted moderation and “move more, eat less” as the only effective and sustainable method of weight-loss, that I was the one who needed fixing. I didn’t find out until decades later that this deeply flawed advice is tantamount to telling someone to pour just a little bit of gasoline on an open flame. This is never going to work if you’re trying to put out a fire. Never.
Two and a half years ago, in a desperate effort to fix that which seemed beyond repair, I made a drastic plan to alter my body even beyond what I had done with a fork and knife: I made an appointment with a weight loss surgeon. It was the culmination of decades of being repeatedly told there’s something so intrinsically wrong with me that my only recourse was to cut apart my internal organs.
By that point I had tried everything, many times over: joined Weight Watchers over 35 times (what’s the definition of insanity again?), been therapized and analyzed, Nutrisystem-ed, Jenny Craig-ed and Opti-Fasted. I had tried exercising, yoga and eating intuitively. I followed all the rules, counted all the points and yet somehow still ended up in a body serving a death-row prison sentence for a crime it didn’t commit.
Every night, I was convinced I was going to die – that my heart would finally give out. Constantly expecting to die is no way to live.
And then, my sister told me about her experiences with low carb, and a computer search brought me to Diet Doctor. I was struck by the many inspiring success stories and how the science seemed to make sense. It also left me wondering why I had never heard this information from any of the professionals I had seen. In the weeks before the surgical appointment, I did a deep dive into all things keto and decided to try Diet Doctor’s two-week challenge, even though I had no reason to believe this diet would be any different, that it would work.
Spoiler alert: it did!After those first weeks on keto, I cancelled the appointment with the bariatric surgeon and have to-date lost about 145 pounds (66 kg). Though I am not at the end of the weight-loss phase of this journey, I am further than I ever could have imagined when the extraordinarily low bar I set for myself was just to be a smaller fat person. Most importantly, I am healthy.
What have I learned along the way?
To make keto work for me. Eating low-carb versions of favorite high carb foods was comforting at first, but has not been helpful as a long-term strategy to repair my history of disordered eating. Now I use ketofied foods like keto bread and keto desserts with discretion and find myself eating simpler because it is how I feel best: mostly meat and some vegetables. I pay attention to hunger and don’t fear fat, but I also don’t add copious amounts “just because.” I try to avoid most processed foods because they leave me hungrier, and instead eat satisfying whole food meals so I rarely need to snack. That said, once or twice a week I will have a few squares of sugar-free chocolate or a keto-friendly treat, but I leverage that with knowing how it will likely affect my cravings afterward, and sometimes opt out. If I am entertaining friends, am going to a party where it’s acceptable to do so, or it’s a holiday, I will bake keto cookies or cheesecake so that I can indulge in a way that works for my lifestyle, and have become a big proponent of freezing leftovers in individual portions so I’m not tempted to overeat them.
To be willing to experiment if things aren’t working the way I want. One example that was transformative: the first two years on keto I had a coffee with butter and one pink packet of saccharine instead of breakfast. I lost a significant amount of weight doing so, but while my cravings and appetite lessened, they never really went away, and eventually I started to backslide and put weight back on. Eventually I gave up the sweetener/butter and now drink my coffee black. This change was not easy (and had I tried it 2+ years ago, probably would not have stuck with it). I white-knuckled it for months before the change took hold – but the results have been significant. My appetite is greatly reduced, my cravings are quieter, I can go longer and longer periods without eating, and weight loss has resumed. It taught me a valuable lesson – to not get so set in my ways that I get in my own way.
To admit that I need help. With a seemingly insurmountable amount of weight to lose when I started, I knew I needed support, so early on I contacted super-smart low-carb coach Kim Howerton who gave me a fantastic education in how to successfully navigate keto in the real world. Later, when I stumbled and needed help and medical advice, I reached out to Dr. Tro, a great doctor, who himself has experienced profound weight loss through low-carb. He helped take my weight loss to the next level by focusing on hunger and satiety. There are wonderful resources available, and no shame in asking for help. That being said, as keto gains popularity, there is a lot of misinformation out there, and it’s easy to get confused. Just because someone/thing says it is keto doesn’t mean it is. Find resources that make sense and stick with them.
I am not brokenMy greatest discovery over the past two-and-a-half years: I am not broken. Like so many of us, I have been the victim of a system of government failures, doctors, academics, dietitians and industries that are at best uninformed, woefully lazy or living in cognitive dissonance and at worst, horribly corrupt mechanisms for preying on the desperate.
What else have I discovered? Just how angry I am! Who could blame me? If just one of those “experts” I went to had done their homework, looked at the scientific literature, not called Atkins a kook, I might not have been tortured for 40+ years. I might have had the life I was meant to. Furious doesn’t begin to describe it.
I am sharing my journey because it is the only way to turn my rage in to a productive rather than a destructive force. No one is more surprised than I am to be writing this post. And that I actually have a before and after photo? It is still inconceivable to me.
I am incredibly grateful that I found keto and Diet Doctor when I did, that I did not give up on myself, and that I finally found my way. Not long ago, I was on the other side of this computer screen just starting out, not believing, feeling desperate and trapped.
Know this: Freedom is attainable — it’s just on the other side of the mountain of garbage we have all been fed.
I didn’t believe that real change was truly possible until I experienced it for myself. Now I know better.
Reach out to Amy Eiges on Twitter.
Thanks for sharing your story and your journey Amy. You got it right. You are not broken. Being hungry and misled is not the same as broken. Hopefully your message will inspire others to find their path to health as you did. Keep up the great work!
/ Dr. Bret Scher, MD
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