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!
Earlier with Kristie
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)”.