The keto diet: From inability to walk to flying a plane

judy

Here’s a very inspiring story. Judy has gone from being incapacitated by her weight to losing 100 pounds (45 kg) – thanks to a keto diet. Wow!

Want to know how she did it? Here she explains all the details:

Before photo: Not able to walk very far due to knee damage from so much weight for so many years, and being unable to walk very far without losing my energy and losing my breath, I used an electric power chair to get around. People felt sorry for the old lady in the wheelchair, usually treating me like my intelligence was diminished as well, for some reason. Finally, my doctor told me I was officially diabetic. Honestly, having felt so bad for so many years, I actually said this out loud, “Good! That means I’ll get healthy now!” Seriously, it took a dire diagnosis, but I knew it meant serious business, and that meant I’d finally focus enough attention to my eating habits. I took the diagnosis as good news.

After photo: I’m still losing weight after having lost 100 lbs (45 kg), but even if my body wanted to stay at this weight, that’s fine with me. My knees are fine, arthritis is almost 100% gone, no sign of diabetes, no meds, all lab work comes back perfect, rashes are gone, I can bend over whenever I want to, I no longer huff and puff when walking across the room, I don’t break furniture anymore, hygiene is easier, and I have a much smaller chance of ever getting the Western Diseases (cancer, heart disease, dementia, arthritis, and so on). My physical abilities are night and day opposite, and it’s all just from eating keto: low carbs, some protein, and enough fat to feel satisfied.

My hospital offered a diabetes class, where I raised my hand to stop the dietician. “Are you telling me that the only thing that can turn to fat are carbs, and we don’t need carbs?” I was shocked at this news. She said yes. I added, with some alarm, “Why don’t they tell fat people this!?” She had no answer. Now I realize it’s because there is no big money to be made in people eating correctly and being healthy. But, I digress…

My first exposure to a very well presented online talk about LCHF (Low Carb High Fat, or keto) was Diet Doctor, giving a one-hour lecture years ago explaining the whole carbohydrate problem. I was hooked. I love technical approaches, science, facts, reasons… Here was a guy who cared about the new epidemics since we all dismissed eating fat back in the 1980s, and he made a lot of sense. Diet Doctor is my quick, go-to advice for anyone interested. I owe a lot to this Swedish guy.

Like clockwork, when I say I’ve lost a lot of weight, I always hear the same two things back: “How long did it take you” and “I could never give up my xxxcarb”. (Everyone names a different carb they could never do without: donuts, spaghetti, or whatever.) I think we are conditioned to think this way. One, that only being at the goal weight matters (nevermind feeling better every day), and two, that we think we are the ones doing the carb craving (nevermind we are slaves responding to carbs we’ve just eaten). More on those ideas later.

It’s about health, not just weight. Western Diseases are called that for a reason – they are caused by our Western diet (high carbs). Even if we didn’t lose weight, we still benefit by avoiding carbs. I remember that concept when my weight loss seems to stall for a few weeks: Weight loss is a side benefit of eating to avoid health epidemics like cancer and heart disease. Oh, I get to lose weight, too?

Only my body knows its goal weight. I don’t care what it is. I’m still losing, still eating when hungry until I’m satisfied, and still doing just fine with no cravings. My body will decide what it wants to weigh as long as I keep eating when hungry.

Buy new clothes as you go. Don’t keep putting on your fat pants and old bras – keep buying more at every size change! Reward yourself! Feel good! Look and feel sharp, at every change! If you buy something a bit small, keep it as “goal pants” or “goal shirt”. It will fit you perfectly at some point, sooner than you think.

Not losing for a week or a month? Don’t worry about it. Let your body do its thing. Eat when you’re hungry, drink when thirsty, have some salt, get good sleep, know what being satisfied feels like. Notice my chart has several plateaus. It doesn’t mean my body wasn’t working for me; it was! Rethink what you’re eating, of course. If your weight loss slows, it could be hidden carbs, uncounted carbs, restaurant recipes with sugars, eating more after you’re no longer hungry. You’ll do fine. Give it some thought, trust your body, and ride it out. You’re still healthier!

Don’t fear the fat, but no need to eat tons of it, either. On the other hand, once in awhile your body needs a treat – so have a half pint of heavy whipping cream with blueberries! Go for it! Fry up some raw fat trimmings from your butcher. Add lots of oil to your lettuce salad, on top of your full fat dressing. Put a huge whop of butter in your coffee or on your eggs… Be good to yourself. I do all that every once in awhile, and I still lost all this weight. Carbs are the problem, not fat. Eat the fat.

Try recipes! Sometimes I eat simple grabbable items for weeks on end, like salami and cheese or hard-boiled eggs in mayo or steak leftovers. Once in awhile check out Cooking Keto with Kristie or Diet Doctor recipes. You’ll be amazed how you can imagine you are eating actual Chinese Fried Rice, actual pudding bombs, or actual pizza when you are still on keto! Recipes are amazing! Use them sometimes, when you want to have some fun.

What if you overeat, but stay with keto foods? You won’t lose as fast, but you’ll still be healthier. Better would be to figure out why you are eating when you’re not hungry. (Habit? Lack of other better habits? Don’t know what to do with yourself?) I find I need very little food. But, I’m always satisfied. I remember what those tasty-looking carbs tasted like, but I also remember I could never get enough of them. I only stopped eating carbs when my stomach stretched to its limit, and I kept craving more and more. That goes away when you stop eating carbs. Find other fun things to do, even if it’s having diet Cokes sitting listening to birds, reading books, listening to mindfulness meditation tapes, or taking naps. You’ll not need food like you used to. Or, sign up for ground school and learn to fly. Just sayin’, there is more out there for you than you have ever thought there was. You might change from “I need to sit down” to “Why not?”

Use a weight-averaging app, or only weigh once every week or two. Following daily ups and downs on a weight scale soon seems too important, and it’s not. Weight will do its thing, but not daily, so stop watching it. Your body knows what it is doing. That said, overall weight averaging is a wonderful thing to watch. I recommend Happy Scale for excellent averaging of your daily entries.

My motivation is health and ability to function. I couldn’t bend over to pick up something I dropped, couldn’t walk more than to the kitchen, was out of breath getting up to use the bathroom, felt poorly all the time without knowing why, and knew how obese I appeared, though my looks were secondary to my physical impairments. Every movement seems so light and airy now, I could just run and run, and not care.

Which reminds me. Exercise is nice, but it has almost nothing to do with weight loss. Period. Moving on…

Comments and questions I wrote for my own encouragement: “Just for today.” “How do your clothes feel?” “Can you still breathe if you bend over?” “How are theater and airline seats?” “How many toes do you want to go numb, or lose?” “When you roll over in bed, how far do you end up?” “Want to eat ‘just anything’ once again? That’s depression.” “Are you hungry, thirsty, tired, or need salt?” “Life is better when it’s not about the food.” “Try doing things with six 20 pound bags of dog food strapped onto you.” “It’s for health, not just weight.”

You can see my weight chart has several obvious places where I went off keto and gained for a period of time before starting up again. Partly, I had some things about keto to learn, but mainly I went back on keto because I felt so ill and uncomfortable in life, and always needed the help of others, even just getting out of bed or out of a chair.

You have to “ignore the finish line”, just start eating the right foods, even after going off keto, if you did. Feeling better the next day is your only goal. And you will feel better the next day. And the day after that. You meet your goal every day. You will never feel as uncomfortable again. You will never need pants that act like a tourniquet around your waist, ever again. You will feel better every day. That’s your only goal.

Craving carbs may take a few days to go away, maybe a couple weeks for some, but soon you won’t be craving anything when you learn what “satisfied” really feels like. It’s not a stretched stomach. Satisfied is when you don’t need to eat. You feel great, not sluggish like after you overeat carbs.

I had to learn to distinguish body signals: Need protein, need fat, need salt, need water, or need sleep. These all feel different, but I had to learn how each felt. I used to respond to all of those by getting stuffed on carbs, even if I was just thirsty. Keep learning. It gets easier.

Don’t fear fat, even if you’re being looked at funny in a restaurant for asking for the “steak with the most fat on it”. Try to make your own food – eating out brings hidden sugar in almost everything. But, if you’re eating out, order exactly what you want!

I never measure foods, or count anything. I just don’t eat foods I know have more than one or two carbs. I don’t miss them. Someday I may add back a few items once in awhile, but, as I said, I don’t miss anything.

You might have to fight your doctor. I do. Even when I had lost 60 pounds (27 kg), she did not say a word, but when discussing meds she said, “Maybe if you could lose a little weight”. I was devastated for days, went off good eating for months, gained almost all my weight loss back. Finally, when I was absolutely feeling miserable again from being so fat, I once again began keto. This time it was for myself, not to show the doctor. She still does not acknowledge keto eating, but I don’t care anymore. Results speak for themselves, and I’m the winner. To all the keto-dismissers, “Let them eat cake!” (Just a little Marie-Antoinette joke.)

When I cook a meal I cook everything low carb, but that doesn’t mean when my wife eats out or cooks her own meals that she has to eat keto, too. No one wants to be pressured. If she eats carbs, she will crave carbs. We know that, and we see it happening, and I’m sad about it. I’m also prepared to someday deal with her getting a major disease like cancer, made more likely by her eating carbs. However, remember to let adults be adults, deciding in their own time for themselves. Like I did. It’s your health that you are dealing with. Be kind about not lecturing others.

Someday grocery stores will have as many fat-filled yummies for us as they now have sugar-filled yummies, if enough of us start buying keto, more keto products will follow. But, there’s really very little money for industry to make when everyone is eating less, eating healthy, and not spending billions on meds and weight loss diseases. The money to be made is in keeping us addicted to eating carbs. That’s why keto is a grass roots program that you don’t hear advertised. But, you can see our stories, can’t you? The less risk of bigtime disease alone should make you pay attention – if not for you, at least for your children and others you want to stay healthy.

By the way, that’s my own plane. I also teach ground school to student pilots, have a Harley with a sidecar for my German Shepherd, and I look forward to getting into yet smaller sizes of Wrangler jeans in the next couple weeks! That’s my life now, and I’m loving it!

My weight-loss chart analyzed:

  • Notice I ate carbs again starting at several different times. My recent year-long success is after I sorted out some of the kinks, like feeling free to eat fat, realizing how many carbs I was really eating in a day, and learning to differentiate needing food, fat, protein, salt or sleep. Those were things I had to learn, to better stick with keto.
  • The first long period of loss was motivated by showing up my doctor, who insisted low calorie was the only good diet out there. After losing 60 pounds she did not acknowledge my loss, but instead said, “Maybe if you could lose a little weight”. That devastated my motivation, and you can see I again regained my ill health and poor functioning in life.
  • I finally began again, this time just for myself. It’s the long run that matters. Fits and starts, backpeddling and pauses, all get less intense and less often as we learn more. It’s all good. It’s all worth it, every day, not just at the end.
  • Speaking of backpeddling, in this last year I’ve had cheesecake on an airline flight, pasta salad and sugared yams at a family gathering, and dessert from a buffet. (Only three times going off keto in a year; not bad.) Each time I got right back on keto. If I allowed myself to think, “I used to love eating carbs, I want to eat them again” I’d be in trouble. But, thinking, “OK, this one thing after three months of good eating is not so bad. I’ll only do this.” Fortunately, each time I got right back on keto. It’s not really so hard because I love fats, oils, butters, eggs, cheeses, and all the recipes that are so, so tasty! How can you not want to eat that great food? It’s easier for me to get back on keto after going off than it ever was when I went off low-calorie diets. Going off a low-calorie diet doomed the diet – after all, you are actually starving. Much harder to sustain.
  • The goal weight shown on my chart is false. I’ll let my body tell me what it wants to weigh, as I just eat when hungry, stop when satisfied, avoid carbs; my body can do the rest. I’d be fine if my weight stayed right here. I’m healthy. I’m flexible. I feel good. I fit in my clothes well. I’m fine.

judy-weight-chart
 

So – to you, my dear reader, I say this. Your goal is to feel better immediately. That will happen later today, and certainly tomorrow. Not a bad goal, is it? You can achieve that goal in less than a day. The side benefit is that you’ll keep feeling better every day. Not bad, and all you need is to eat right today. One day, and you feel better. The rest will follow. So, to those who ask how long it takes, I say “one day”, to feel better.

And, second, dear reader whom I know so well (because I am and was you), realize the carbs have control of your craving centers. It’s never a matter of “will power” or “failure”. No, it’s when you eat carbs that you will be told to search out more carbs. Your carbs make you want more carbs, as though you’re starving. You will crave carbs, but it’s not “you”, let’s call it. It’s your brain being controlled. Stop the carbs to stop being controlled. Your will power is just fine once you get carbs out of your system. So, to those who say, “I could never give up my xxxcarbs” I say, “Those are the carbs forcing you to think that; they’re lying to you.” (It’s an evolutionary thing, but that’s another story for another time.)

Oh yeah… I almost forgot. Take some ‘before’ photos right away. Pretty soon it’ll be too late to remember accurately.

Now, what’s next? First, visit Diet Doctor every day, read books, keep learning, ignore your setbacks, and stay involved. Second, make a list of extraordinary hobbies, and begin researching some of them. Right now. No, really, I mean right now. You’re online, right?

Why not?

Judy

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Thank you for sharing your inspiring story and helpful insights Judy!

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PS

Do you have a success story you want to share on this blog? Send it (photos appreciated) to andreas@dietdoctor.com, and please let me know if it’s OK to publish your photo and name or if you’d rather remain anonymous.

It would also be greatly appreciated if you shared what you eat in a typical day, whether you fast etc.

14 comments

  1. Debbie
    What a great story Amanda! I agree totally about feeling great day by day and that is the biggest motivator. Weight loss feels great too of course, but I find that when my brain is running on ketones I have more peace and clarity. I also appreciate your wisdom and compassion toward family members who may not share this lifestyle...Yet. There's always hope! Thank you for sharing your story!
  2. Janet Grice
    What an inspiring story, you made me feel so emotional and determined to stick to this WOE well done your weight loss is epic I need to loose about 50lbs which seems so small to what you’re achieved. Xx
  3. 1 comment removed
  4. Barbara
    Being a dog lover, I've had many 20 lb. bags of dog kibble in my pantry over the years. You had me doubled up in laughter thinking about having 6 of those strapped to me and trying to accomplish anything at all, but then it hit me - I'm doing exactly that every single day! That's when I stopped laughing. Your words hit home and give me hope. Thanks so much, Judy!
  5. Monica
    Wow! Great job. Yes, we who where once carb addicted said those same sentences "I can't live without ....carb food". Imagine yourself saying I can't live with out my scotch and soda. That is an insane comment. Of course you can live without sugar a nonessential nutrient. Our livers make all the sugar our red blood cells need. I admit there is a learning curve, but you have only fat and disease between you and time. You can do this. There are literally hundred thousands of us who have cured their Diabetes, PCOS, GERDS, no longer use a C-Pap machine, no more swollen legs, no more "Hungry monster & eating all the time". No more shame and eating that extra food in private when all you want to do is stop eating. Sorry folks, you stimulate your pancreas too much, you are going to eat. Insulins job is to store fat. I did all the learning curve mistakes of a new-bee. I tried to make carb foods out of low carb foods. It only made me overeat them too. I ate when I was not hungry. I did not go to bed on time and was tired a lot. I ate too much fat. (*if you want fat off your ass, you must put less in your mouth). And no matter what your app says how many calories you have eaten, remember this important fact, when you are eating low carb and loosing weight, a huge amount of calories are being used each day off of your butt. If you added the calories from the food you eat and the fat coming off your butt, its a lot of calories. Your fat is broken down and burned as fuel along with what you put in your mouth. 2 Years in, and I am at weight goal. 70 pounds down at 64 years old. If I can do this, anyone can.
  6. Terri
    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Judy! I loved reading every single word and had to save a copy in case I need some encouragement because of this very long stall I've been in. It's been tough stalling for a year, but I'm not giving up and I believe as you do that it's about health first and weight loss/appearance second. I can accept a higher weight, but I realistically have at least 50lbs to go (I've lost 90 so far after having lost 125 the first time I did low carb and gaining back a lot). For the past several months for reasons that aren't yet clear to me, I've found that I'm sensitive to almost everything except meat right now. I've read about people who are like this and never in a million years thought I'd be one of them. I almost wouldn't have believed it was possible until it happened to me. My whole life I could eat any food without allergic reactions, etc. so it's still a shock to now be intolerant of FODMAPS, dairy, grains and histamine provoking foods like aged cheddar, vinegar/pickles, red/white wine, champagne, cured meats, etc., basically ANYTHING that is plant based or cultured in any way. When I try to eat a little of those foods, my whole face breaks out in pustules and it's very red, inflamed, sore and itchy. My body has clearly been trying to get my attention and that did it for the past several months until finally everything caused a flare-up except animal protein.
    It took a bit of time to get over the shock of things getting so bad and I admit I was depressed and anxious about facing the rest of my life like this, but I've spent the past week or so doing a ton more reading (like many of us I feel like I've been studying all of this for years, now!) but I'm feeling great today. I'm so happy that others have been generous enough to write about their experiences on zero carb sites and when I read about their ability to eat this way for years on end, it gives me hope and I know I can do this. Your great story and your amazing attitude is just what I needed to keep going at this with a smile on my face and a grateful attitude for getting healthier every day. I'm 61 and this has been a long road since I was put on my first diet at age 9 and I've been anywhere from a 115 lb adult woman to about 325 at my worst. I know it wouldn't have been quite that high if I hadn't been on one of the worst possible medications (at the highest dose allowable): Quetiapine (Seroquel). It's one of the worst at causing weight gain/insulin resistance. It's been a nightmare seeing myself get so big, but I'm on my way to a healthier more freeing weight and doing fine.
    Thanks again and all the best to everyone doing this WOE, but a special shout-out to the ladies who are menopausal and post menopausal and struggling with weight. Others before us have done it and so can we. Stay strong and carry on! ;)
  7. Catherine
    Judy,
    Thank you for the thoughtful summary of your journey and shifts in thinking about food, weight, motivation and life! Much of what you said reflects my experience and the things that I am learning. But I don't think I could put it so well ;-)
    I am about 25kg down of maybe 45-50kg and struggling a bit at the moment. I let sugar back in and now getting it (and some other carbs) consistently out again has been hard. So, I thank you in particular for:
    "Your goal is to feel better immediately. That will happen later today, and certainly tomorrow. Not a bad goal, is it? You can achieve that goal in less than a day. The side benefit is that you’ll keep feeling better every day. Not bad, and all you need is to eat right today. One day, and you feel better. The rest will follow. "
    Brilliant advice. I need to think about feeling better. I love how it feels to be neither 'carb stuffed yet hungry for more' or 'energy deprived and hungry'. The fat-adapted happy place really does feel BETTER. The rest (health results, weight etc) will follow. Focusing too much on longer term outcomes makes it easier to think 'in the scheme of things, this [insert transgression] won't matter' even though of course it does...
    So, I am going to feel better today - by making good choices; and tomorrow - as a result of those choices.
    Thank you. Congratulations to you and all the best.
  8. Susan McL.
    Judy, what a marvelous narrative of your journey! I'm especially grateful for the explanations of the causes and remedies for the difficult times. Feeling devastated by misguided comments from a medical professional or other people? Yep. Been there. Been there more than once! It does take some head work to put that sort of thing into its proper perspective, which is: "These people don't know what they're talking about, even though they sound so authoritative." That's a tough lesson to absorb.
    Another thing I especially appreciate in your article is the list of phrases to think about to help maintain commitment and improve understanding:

    “Just for today.” “How do your clothes feel?” “Can you still breathe if you bend over?” “How are theater and airline seats?” “How many toes do you want to go numb, or lose?” “When you roll over in bed, how far do you end up?” “Want to eat ‘just anything’ once again? That’s depression.” “Are you hungry, thirsty, tired, or need salt?” “Life is better when it’s not about the food.” “Try doing things with six 20 pound bags of dog food strapped onto you.” “It’s for health, not just weight.”

    The one thing I couldn't find was the weight chart you referred to. Maybe we could ask the site administrator to put it in a place where we could find it or at least give us a link to it.

  9. Coleen
    What an awesome experience Judy. Truly inspiring.

    Hello out there....Judy needs to become a regular contributor for DietDoctor! Such a well thought out piece of writing...

  10. Karen
    Woo Hoo Judy! You're an inspiration. Thank you for speaking the truth.
    Congrats on your success.
  11. Carol
    Such an inspiring story! I am so happy I came upon Diet Doctor and glad I became a member!! It is the best!!
  12. Sandi
    Judy, I want to say Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.... I love Diet Doctor and I visit the site often, sometimes just to read the success stories. YOU have written the MOST INSPIRING one I've read so far, (and I do like and appreciate everyone's stories). The way you worded everything made a HUGE difference in the way I think about things now. For the first time I realize that the important thing isn't how I look or how long it takes me to lose the weight I want, but it's about just plain feeling better and being healthier. Thank you again for your honesty and all of the wonderful inspiring words. YOU GO GIRL!!!
    GOD BLESS AND KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING!!!! You are AMAZING....
  13. Shelley
    Thank you for sharing such an amazing story.
  14. gail
    Dear Judy, thank you for writing such a wonderful account of your journey. I loved the line 'ignore your setbacks' I found Dr. Fung 2 years ago and had great success losing 50 pounds fairly easily. I got off track and realized I had regained 15 . I know this is a lifetime WOE, but had let myself falsely believe I could go back to my old habits. Even though I know that just one day does make a difference. I keep going back to diet doctor and get inspired all over again.
    Thanks again for writing. Wish you the best health !
  15. Sherrie
    I've read Judy's story several times and today it brought tears to my eyes. It is so inspirational for me, especially reminders like taking photos along the way. But I am now in a new "keto mindset"; I am finally determined, one day at a time, to be successful and it's working! I started LCHF with Andreas almost two years ago and was hooked, but I still had to deal with the emotional eating. So even though I initially lost about twenty five pounds I've allowed old habits to interfere. For those of us who are emotional eaters/sugar & carb addicts, you have to really be ready to make this commitment. The tools, videos ( especially about sugar addiction), recipes and pictures have helped me maintain my initial weight loss. And now, I have Judy's incredible journey to add to my motivational toolbox. Thank you Judy and thank you all!

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