I have struggled with obesity my entire life. This is me at my university graduation in 2010. My weight had climbed to 295 pounds. It was a turning point in my life. At that moment I vowed I would never reach 300 pounds. I was incredibly unhappy and disappointed that I let my weight get out of control. So, I started running. I could barely last half a block; even the 30 second run intervals were excruciating. But I did it out of necessity. I felt like I was heading towards an early grave if I didn’t. Within a few months I was down 50 pounds and running was getting easier. But for the next three years I struggled gaining and losing the same 20 pounds. I tried diet after diet and nothing seemed to stick. They were all temporary and I needed a lifestyle change. The daily struggles of money, work and my relationship kept me binge eating. It was a cycle I couldn’t seem to break. As I’m sure many people can relate, I fed my emotions with food. Filling the emptiness with anything I could reach.
I remember a conversation I had with my sister when I confided in her how I was feeling. I was lost, like I was trapped in a dark black hole I couldn’t seem to climb out of. She was worried and told me I needed to talk to someone about my depression. A word I never let myself say because I felt the social stigma around it. But I was severely depressed. In 2013 in the midst of my depression, something clicked with the weight loss and I was able to make the lifestyle change I so badly needed. Let’s be honest everyone knows how to lose weight. Stop eating processed garbage, eat whole foods as nature intended, turn off the TV and go out and do something active! Simple right? But definitely not easy to implicate because in my opinion weight loss is 90% mental. Anyone who is overweight or obese needs to look at why. What is it that makes you turn to food for comfort? What does keeping the weight on afford you to do? So in February of 2013 I did an elimination diet. I came to the conclusion that I have a gluten intolerance and a corn intolerance. I lived on pasta, bread and popcorn for years! No wonder I felt fatigued, bloated and gross all the time. After cutting them out of my diet and following a strict paleo diet, by June I was 200 pounds. Even though I was running and working out 6 days a week; I was still severely depressed. A nutrition podcast I was following had briefly mentioned a ketogenic diet. After much research I learned that the high fat low carbohydrate diet alters the pathway of metabolism in your body, burning ketones rather than glucose. I also learned that it can affect brain chemistry and has been used to treat seizures in epileptic patients. At the end of one research article, there was a sentence that has changed my life drastically. A simple hypothesis that a ketogenic diet may help those suffering from depression. Being a scientist myself, I decided to conduct my own experiment. I implemented a ketogenic diet in June. It was a success, even with dealing with a horrendous breakup and financial ruin. When I reached September I was finally smiling and 155 pounds! I had lost an additional 90 pounds in 8 months. I felt incredible and finally liked myself. I have kept the weight off for three years now and no longer turn to food for comfort. Because it’s not comforting! I have found other ways to deal with stress and depression rather than food. And it works. I am now almost half the person I used to be and I have never felt more whole! In the words of Dave Aspery, “do you want to survive or thrive?”