Erica was afraid that when she reached her late 40s, it might be too late to change her health or her weight.
In fact, although she was in constant pain, she actively avoided seeing a doctor or stepping on a scale. She had no idea what she weighed.
When shoulder pain finally sent her to the doctor in January 2020, she was devastated when she learned she had reached 299 pounds (136 kilos). She also had fatty liver disease and indications of metabolic syndrome.
“I knew it was time for a change,” she says.
In February 2020, she found Diet Doctor and began keto eating and intermittent fasting.
Now, two years later, she has lost 120 pounds (54 kilos), alleviated her pain, reversed her fatty liver, and improved all her symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
“Today, I have tons more energy,” says Erica. “Even if I don’t lose another pound, I am super proud of myself.”
Erica’s story has been lightly edited.
What’s your name, age, and where do you live?
I’m Erica, age 47, and I live in West Central Florida.
How did you discover low-carb or keto eating?
I had done the Atkins diet back in about 2002. I lost a lot of weight – about 80 pounds (36 kilos) – but as I increased my carb intake, cravings returned, and I gained the weight back.
I knew this type of eating worked, so when I got to my breaking point in January 2020, I knew which road to choose: cut carbs. That’s how I eventually found Diet Doctor.
Did you have any health issues before starting keto?
I was basically 300 pounds (136 kilos). I was in constant pain in my lower back; I had low energy and a low mood. I didn’t know much about my health markers because I avoided the doctor.
I was afraid it was too late for me.
I was living on ibuprofen but I went to the doctor in January of 2020 because I was having terrible shoulder pain. I didn’t actually have a doctor, so I went to a walk-in clinic. They asked me how much I weighed to prescribe a medicine, and I had no clue.
When I stepped on the scale, and was 299 pounds (136 kilos), I was devastated. At that point, I decided it was time for a change.
I established a relationship with the doctor at the clinic and got my blood work done. I had inflammatory markers, my liver enzymes showed fatty liver disease, and my cholesterol was not good.
What were you eating before keto?
Before making the change to keto, I would wake up and have a coffee with sweetened, flavored creamer and usually head out the door with my second cup in hand. I would stop at a gas station for a pastry or at a national chain restaurant for a bagel or a biscuit sandwich for breakfast.
Then, for lunch, I’d usually have a footlong sub, pizza, or burger meal with large fries and a Diet Coke from a drive-through. After I’d start to crash from lunch, I’d top that off with a mid-afternoon snack from the vending machine at work.
Because I had so little energy, dinners were usually quick grabs like fried chicken with mac and cheese. Or maybe I would make a shepherd’s pie, tacos, or beef stroganoff. If we were running off to Girl or Boy Scouts with my kids, I’d grab three pizzas for my family of five.
Then I would top that off a few hours later with a snack of cereal or something, and then I would wake up in the morning nauseously ravenous and start all over again.
How did you start lowering your carb intake?
I started just by cutting back added sugars, and a lot of starches and carbs. But, I was still eating “natural sugars” like sugar from dates, oats, fruit, and the like.
I had already started losing weight in January 2020 by doing this, but I knew it just wasn’t 100% right. I decided in February 2020 to do keto and joined Diet Doctor.
I started with the two-week challenge and was in ketosis relatively quickly. I didn’t have many side effects because I had already started kicking the sugars.
I specifically remember when ketosis started because I hopped into my bedroom, where my hubby was lying down. I was punching the air, dancing my feet, like I was shadowboxing. He looked at me and said, “What’s up?” I said, “I’m in ketosis! I know I am because I have so much energy right now!”
Did you incorporate any intermittent fasting into your diet?
Yes. A coworker noticed I was losing some weight, and he mentioned fasting to me. I thought he was crazy! How could I ever miss a meal, never mind going a whole day, without eating?
As time passed and I became “fat-adapted,” I accidentally did my first fast for 24 hours. I had already started skipping breakfast by following one of the Diet Doctor meal plans, and then I was busy for lunch, and by the time I was making dinner for the family, I wasn’t hungry, so I just didn’t eat.
I was shocked when I realized it.
How has your health or weight improved?
After one year, I had lost 100 pounds (45 kilos).
After two? I’m currently down about 120 pounds (54 kilos), depending on the day. That’s something for people to know: the scale can go up and down a bit every day. Keep that in mind!
Today I have tons more energy, and my LDL is the only health marker still in the red, although it’s not bad enough to take meds. My doctor wants to keep an eye on it. My cholesterol ratio shows I’m no longer a metabolic mess.
What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
My typical day is skipping breakfast. Many days I skip lunch, too. I occasionally skip dinner, but when I had more to lose, I definitely did more daily fasting.
I usually like how I feel when I’m fasted. No swelling, my joints feel limber, and I have a ton of energy.
I now usually do OMAD — one meal a day — or if I eat two meals, I keep those to a six-hour eating window.
On weekends, I am more apt to have breakfast one day with my family.
As far as meal planning, I figure out what I have in the fridge or freezer and will go to the Diet Doctor app, plug in a keyword, and figure something out for dinner that way.
I keep keto staples on hand, such as eggs, cream cheese, and whipping cream.
Do you have any favorite Diet Doctor recipes, resources, or programs?
Oh, where do I begin? The recipes are a given! My family and I talked about this, so we could narrow it down to just a few!
For resources, I love the app, articles, and videos. I feel that, whatever I have a question about, DD has information for it. Fasting? Videos and articles! Cholesterol? Yep, that too! I have even used the visual guides when I try to explain to someone what and how to eat on keto.
A few times a year, I revert to a one-week meal plan or the two-week challenge for several reasons. One is carb creep! Sometimes it is good to remind yourself about measuring and macros. It is easy when we get busy to “guestimate.”
I use the meal plan to explore new things and as a challenge between myself and my best friend, Charlita, who also uses DD. We look through meal plans together and come up with a plan our families will enjoy.
Have you learned from any challenges along the way?
Sometimes, I still overeat. I have my last 10–15 pounds (4–7 kilos) I want to lose (to finally have a normal BMI). The hardest thing now for me is not eating when I’m not hungry or stopping eating when I am no longer hungry.
I have a family, and when I make something really tasty but I’m not hungry, I often still eat it if I had not consciously planned on fasting.
I have hung on to some tendencies to eat past feeling full. After all, I didn’t get to the size I was because I had no troubles.
This is still my work in progress. These issues are not resolved overnight. All of this takes time.
I know that eating any treats, even keto “treats,” increases my urge to eat more.
Is exercise necessary to lose weight on a low-carb diet?
I don’t think exercise is necessary, but you will inadvertently move more because you have more energy.
I feel now more than ever I need to do some HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and try to build some strength.
I just got a new exercise bike, dumbbell weights, a battle rope, and jump ropes, to try to work on this at home. Living in a rural area and having long commute times make it hard to find time to exercise.
What are your top three tips for people starting out?
My top three tips are:
- Whether you go cold turkey or gradual like myself, stop the snacking!
- Remember to take electrolytes. Leg cramps are a drag!
- If you hit a stall, try cutting out, or at least back, on dairy and nuts. I hit a wall for a while and that was the culprit. I definitely do get inflammation from creams/yogurts and some from cheeses and nuts. My next effort is to try and figure out exactly what is causing it.
Since starting keto, apart from my 120-pound weight loss, my energy level has increased, my inflammation is almost completely gone, and I get to wear a whole bunch of super cute clothes! Plus, my 11-year-old son has lost 20 pounds (9 kilos) after he asked me to help him lose weight.
A coworker asked me to help him when his fasting numbers came back as a pre-diabetic. He was not heavy, but by eating keto he lost about 15 pounds (7 kilos), and his blood sugar returned to normal.
The reason why I am telling you this is because by eating this way, we are healing on the inside more than we even know. I no longer wake up nauseated and famished. I now get hungry because it is time to eat, not because it is a false signal due to my body preferring to burn sugar.
Don’t wait until you cannot take it anymore, give Diet Doctor and keto a try so you can do it right.
But, if you fall off that wagon, get back up and do it again and again. This way of eating IS the right way to eat.
That is the only explanation for the healing of my hair and skin issues, the resolution of my constant gastric upset, and my improved energy levels, mood, etc. Eating clean minimally processed food is the only way.
All in all, if I don’t lose another pound, I am super proud of myself. As long as I stay where I am, I will be OK.
This is a journey, not a race!!
Well done, Erica! Thanks for sharing your health and weight loss successes and how you used Diet Doctor resources to help you and your family achieve your goals.
~ Anne Mullens