My miracle oil

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I’ve spent much of my life wondering what’s wrong with me. As an obese kid, I daydreamed about a magical oil that I could put in my bathwater. The oil would dissolve the fat without harming my skin.

In the fantasy, my arms and legs would be perfectly proportioned, but I’d have to submerge myself entirely to get the full advantage of this special oil. I wondered if my bathtub was big enough. I was 8 years old. 

Before puberty I knew something was different about me. I knew I was ALWAYS hungry and hopelessly fat. I hated that word. I feared it. That word had been tossed at me in utter disgust more than once by adults and peer and even younger children. I couldn’t say that word.

I daydreamed a lot as a kid. I was an only child until I was 18 (that’s another story). I entertained myself by reading and eating and daydreaming, and I knew there was something wrong with me.

The characters in the books I read were never overweight. Sometimes there was a chubby sidekick who was friends with the main character but that person was never the main character. The fat kid was always the sidekick and usually smart. Look at Velma from Scooby Doo! Velma was the smart character while Daphne was the taller thinner blonde who had a boyfriend. She was always treated better by the gang than the shorter, chubbier Velma.

No matter the story, the heroines were always pretty and sometimes smart. They always had nice clothes and boyfriends. I had neither. So I daydreamed about both. While I will admit to a serious crush on actor Scott Baio, daydreams about boys didn’t come until much later, but the weight loss, the Holy Grail solution I daydreamed about was a constant fantasy.
 
Each new weight loss gimmick gave me hope–the cabbage soup diet, acupuncture, restricting calories and walking with my grandmother. Eventually I was prescribed weight loss drugs. When gastric bypass failed me–I’d lost 125 lbs in the first year and a half, but then gained over 80 lbs back– I took it as the ultimate failure. That had been my “last chance” and I couldn’t even make that work. I was hopeless.

I began to wonder whether science would ever figure out what was irrevocably broken in me. I held on to the hope that my miracle oil or drug would be discovered. I never dreamed that the answer had already been found and had been used decades ago. 

When I eventually read Gary Taubes’ book, Why We Get Fat, he taught me that my lifetime struggle with weight wasn’t a personal failure. His book gave examples of how carbs, fat, and protein behave in the body. He explained the role of insulin and other hormones. He gave relevant examples and for the first time ever, I read a book where I was the main character! It was nonfiction and it was my story in print! 

By the time I got to the end of that book I might have taken to hunting unicorns had he explained it would have made me skinny. In spite of the fact that his book is explicit about weight being a symptom and not the disease, let’s be honest. I still wanted to “treat” the symptom which meant that I was only interested in losing weight.
 
Thankfully Taubes wasn’t selling meal plans or supplements or exogenous ketones. Taubes had this thin little Appendix of how to follow a very low carb diet. No Sugar, No Starch. It was written by some doctor at Duke, Dr. Eric Westman, a man I would eventually meet and get to know.

I read his diet plan, and, seeing as how there were no unicorns to chase down, I figured I’d give it a try. It didn’t involve cabbage soup or needles. Duke University was just up the road from my home in North Carolina and was highly respected for medicine if not for athletics. I’d try it just to see if that Taubes guy was on point. He had spoken to me throughout his book. His main characters were just like me. I wanted to see if this story could give me a happy ending.

After four decades of dreaming and struggling, I found my miracle oil. My miracle oils. It’s in butter and bacon fat and ghee and mayonnaise. It’s the yumminess of fried chicken wings and roasted pork bellies. It may not have made me as perfectly proportioned as I’d like, but this story, with all of its plot twists, is headed towards a much happier ending! 

Kristie Sullivan

More

Low Carb for Beginners

A Ketogenic Diet for Beginners

Earlier with Kristie

The Sound of Silence

How a Pumpkin Pie Spice Muffin Can Mean Freedom

Mastering the Waves of Ketosis

Low-carb basics

Stories

Weight loss

About Kristie

Obese for nearly all of her life, Kristie Sullivan, PhD, is passionate about helping others learn about all of the health benefits from eliminating sugar, grains, and starches. She focuses on eating whole, real foods that everyone in the family can enjoy.

You can learn more about her at her YouTube channel, Cooking Keto with Kristie. She also published a cookbook, Journey to Health: A Journey Worth Taking to help others discover how delicious and healthy a low carb lifestyle can be. Join her (and several thousand others) on the low carb journey at her closed Facebook group, “Low Carb Journey to Health (Cooking Keto with Kristie)”.

23 comments

  1. gbl
    "Duke University was just up the road from my home in North Carolina and was highly respected for medicine if not for athletics."

    Now you've got my attention. Promise of this being more than a boys club.

    Reply: #2
  2. Kristie
    lol!! I was wondering if that might get me in trouble. :-)
  3. Carol
    Delightfully written piece. Gary will be touched.
    Reply: #9
  4. gbl
    You are an excellent writer.
    Reply: #11
  5. KBK
    Kristie - you were the first person that really got me to move to Keto. Thanks so much!
    Reply: #12
  6. Bekah
    I am also a gastric bypass surgery failure. I did mine 15 years ago, gained back all 100 lbs, lost 105, gained back 65. I now struggle to lose any weight. I've gone so far as going back to school for a degree in Nutrition - almost finished! Keto will help me drop the weight, but I usually end up grumpy with constant diarrhea. I'm seriously at a loss. Doctors tell me to eat less, exercise more. Well, 6 days at the gym wasn't cutting it.
    Reply: #14
  7. Grace
    Hi Kristie,
    You are such a wonderful, warm communicator, and really make a connection with me for one, and I am sure so many others. I enjoy your YouTube videos, where you tell some of your experience.
    On reading this piece, I was stopped in my tracks - remembering all those same feelings as a bewildered, obese child - even parents do blame their children's 'greed' unfortunately. It seems that you are alone in the world.
    Its so important to know that we are not alone and that each of us can find a path to better health and experience of life.
    Thank you so much for sharing this. To me, you are an invaluable addition to the Diet Doctor Team.
    Reply: #13
  8. Dana Knowles
    115 pounds 3 with 2 fully dedicated to eating well years of Keto life. No access, pains, or is. Increased flexibility, endurance... Oh yeah 65 years and yes I struggled with fat since I was a toddler. Keto works... Now for my morning coffee and cream.
    Reply: #10
  9. Kristie
    I cannot wait to see him at Low Carb USA! I hope to get him to sign my book.
  10. Kristie
    Enjoy that "diet drink". :-) Grateful for your success too!
  11. Kristie
    Thank you so much!
  12. Kristie
    I'll happily take the blame for that! I'm glad you found your way to this journey!
  13. Kristie
    Thank you so very much! I'm am honored to be a part of this fantastic team that Dr. Eenfeldt put together. When we discussed my role here, he kept talking about empowering people. He spoke to my heart!
    That sense of community and belonging is really important when we are helping folks make a lifestyle change. They need role models and those of us who have walked the path can be important partners when influencing change. Thanks for being part of this community!
  14. Kristie
    If only the gym time worked! Yes, I have to be careful with fats or upsets my digestive system as well. Gradually increasing them helped. Congrats on finishing up your degree! I hope that you find the answers you seek.
  15. Molly
    Hi Kristie. This article & your "failure" youtube video moved me to tears several times. How selfless of you to open your heart to total strangers & reveal your many struggles so we may have hope that regardless of how much failure there has been in the past, success in the future is absolutely possible. I am a morbidly obese 42 y.o T2 diabetic Mum of 3. I had put myself in the it's-too-late-to-fix box but having recently discovered LCHF , this website & your wonderful youtube videos. I now truly believe I will be successful. You're my hero. Thank you very being beautiful both in & out. Molly x
  16. Tamarah
    Great writing Kristie,, I hope we can change the world,, we just have such a long way to go .
    Blessings

    Tamarah

  17. Susan
    I went Paleo last year for 8 months. My LDL cholesterol went up 97 points! No rise in HDL's. What went wrong?
    Reply: #21
  18. Diana
    So true... I will admit that some days I wish there was a magic pill but I'm happy with the path I'm now on.
  19. Shayne
    Hi Kristie. I just read your wonderful article and like so many others you have told my story as well..yep lap banding 30 yrs again did pretty well until menopause and hip replacement then boom the weight just keeps on keeping on.....now to a torn meniscus and seeing a photo of myself last weekend has made me get off of the fence and into action... Thankyou for your honesty and for giving us all that little bit of hope and yes I wish there was a magic pill but alas....
  20. Daryl
    i love Kristie's wonderful series of videos on UTube. Thank you, Kristie for Cooking Keto with Kristie.
  21. Steven Ingram
    What's wrong? NOTHING! Taking for granted no carbs are "leaking" into your diet, the LDL is temporarily high because LDL is doing what LDL is meant to do. It is repairing damage from the old carb filled way you WERE eating. As your body heals, LDL show go down and HDL go up. I waited about two years before a doctor's visit, but the blood panel was excellent. Good luck.
  22. Sandy
    My dad taught me about you Kristie, actually PREACHED about you & Dr. Westman. Mother was on "weight watchers" & lost down to her goal of 135 BUT not due to WW!!! Only due to my dad cooking your recipes at home, and following DR. WESTMAN'S DIET, with your help of course. At 68 years old, they are in the BEST shape ever. Now it took me a year to hear him, really hear what he was trying to teach me. I am maybe 7 Mo's into ketosis and am not at my goal weight but instead of 212 & 5'3, I'm 148.2 today! It's so exciting, energy is through the roof. Age spots are diminished! I feel AWESOME! THANK YOU SO MUCH. When I hear your story, it's mine from 8 years old wondering what was wrong with me. My miracle oil is coconut oil. Eat it (&butter) everyday! Again thank you!
  23. Sharon
    Hi Kristie
    My childhood was very opposite of yours...but funny how we felt the same about our bodies. People made comments about how "skinny" I was. My grandfather was a rancher, so we had beef - and since they worked the land we had fresh vegetables too. We seldom had carbs on the table...but when we did, they tasted oh so good. My paternal grandmother taught my mom, the city girl, how to cook. This meant our food was seasoned property with fat, whether it be real butter or bacon fat. I weighed 70lbs at the age of 13. The term Anorexia hadn't been coined yet otherwise I'm sure i would have been accused. I loved food, and ate as fast as i could so i could get 2nd helpings. I tried everything i could to gain weight, even eating the fat off the steak....yea, now i know. I graduated high school at 5' 7" weighing barely 100lbs. I guess i should mention that eating low carb coupled with 2 fasts a day helped to keep me lean. How could one have two fasts a day you wonder...we got up for school at 6:30 and went straight to the table for breakfast. Mom cooked eggs and bacon for me everyday...nothing else would keep me from starving until lunchtime at 10 am. For lunch, I usually bought my food in the cafeteria,and i loved it. Hey, l was starving. We didn't eat dinner until 7:30 to 10:00 pm. There was no junk food in the house to snack on. So there you have it two fasts a day, and low carb meals.

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