However, this wasn’t always the case.
For years, she struggled with obesity and the anxiety, depression, and hopelessness that accompanied it.
“I was actually pretty thin up until middle school,” Suzanne remembers. “But after my parents divorced and my brother and I ended up living with my father, I was dealing with a lot of emotional issues, and food became a source of comfort.”
Moreover, the food that was available to her had little nutritional value. As busy man with limited financial resources, Suzanne’s father often took the family to McDonald’s, pizza, and other fast food places.
“I also drank soda all the time. It was our main beverage. We didn’t even really drink water,” she recalls.
“My dad and brother ate all the same stuff I did and stayed thin, but by about fifth or sixth grade, I began to really put on weight,” says Suzanne. “It was really tough, because not only was I taller than all of my classmates, but I was heavier as well. I didn’t look like any of them or like I fit in, which is all you really want at that age. When you’re that much bigger than everyone else, you just stick out. I was constantly picked on because of my size.”When you’re that much bigger than everyone else, you just stick out. I was constantly picked on because of my size.Knowing that she was struggling, Suzanne’s father tried to cheer her up with treats. “He’d say, ‘Oh, you had a really rough day. Let’s go get some ice cream. You’ll feel better.’”
Although sweets helped numb the pain temporarily, Suzanne soon developed a problem with food addiction and became involved in a cycle of emotional overeating, weight gain, dieting, brief weight loss, and regaining to a higher weight than she’d started at.
“I went on my first diet in middle school. I actually think it was Atkins, and I only lasted a couple of days. I remember going out to breakfast with my dad, and I knew I couldn’t have pancakes, but that was the only thing I wanted, so I ordered them. And after I ate them, I thought, my day is already shot, so I’ll just eat what I want,” she recalls.
Over the years, Suzanne tried many other diets to lose weight.
“You name it, I tried it,” she says. “Juicing, vegetarianism, Weight Watchers, South Beach, and others I can’t even remember right now.”
She also briefly took the supplement Hydroxycut and even the prescription medication fen-phen during high school, which made her feel sick, light-headed and dizzy.
“Every time I learned about something new for weight loss, I thought, this is it. This is going to be what works. But of course, nothing ever did. I couldn’t stick with any of them for more than a few weeks, so I’d only lose a few pounds. It was always just a quick fix and never a lifestyle change.”
Meeting the love of her life
In 2010, Suzanne married Mick, the love of her life. But what should have been one of the happiest days of her life didn’t turn out that way.
“After I got engaged, I remember thinking, this is going to be the moment where I’m going to finally lose the weight. But my self-esteem and self-worth were at an all-time low, and I just didn’t believe I had the ability to do it.”
In fact, instead of losing weight, she actually gained in the weeks leading up to her wedding.
“I was probably at my heaviest weight ever, definitely over 300 pounds (136 kg). And I really didn’t even enjoy my wedding because I was so uncomfortable and struggling with all these emotions. I was wearing a white, strapless size 26 dress, and I just didn’t feel good about myself. And at that point I thought, this is just my life. If I couldn’t do it for my wedding, I’m never going to lose weight. So I just kind of gave up at that point,” remembers Suzanne, sadly.
Three years later, she gave birth to her daughter, Olivia. Once Olivia became an active toddler, Suzanne found that taking care of her was increasingly difficult.
“I just didn’t have the energy to keep up with her,” Suzanne says. “My back and neck hurt, my joints were cracking, I was sleeping nine hours a day but had no energy, and I was just miserable. And I was only 30 years old.”
Envisioning a future of continued weight gain, pain, and worsening health problems, she briefly considered weight-loss surgery.
“I had a friend who had lost a lot of weight after having gastric bypass, so I asked her about it. But I just thought it wasn’t right for me, because in my own case there was such an emotional component to eating. I figured even if I had the surgery, I’d probably go back to eating the same way eventually, and I’d end up in the same spot. I needed to work on the emotional issues and figure out why I wasn’t making the investment in myself.”
Discovering the keto diet
Shortly thereafter, she was on the Reddit forums and noticed a keto thread featuring “before” and “after” photos of a woman who’d successfully lost a lot of weight. She appreciated that the person had a body similar to her own and that nothing was being marketed other than the diet itself. I thought, this is going to be the last diet that I try.“The person seemed really happy, and I wanted to learn more. So I started researching keto as much as I possibly could before trying it, and it sounded great.
Her best tips
Here are Suzanne’s best tips for losing weight successfully and sustainably:
- Focus on your mindset. “Invest in yourself, and find your ‘why.’ Really work on the emotional component and setting yourself up for success, whatever that means for you. If you don’t have a purpose for doing this, you won’t be successful long term,” warns Suzanne.
- Make small, livable changes. “If you try to do too much at once, you’ll give up, and then you’ll feel like a failure. Challenge yourself to do new things, but take them one at a time. In my case, one of the first things I did was give up soda, which was huge for me,” she says. “Once I’d done that, I thought, okay, now I can move on to the next thing.”
- Have a support system. “This is really important, because losing weight is such an emotional process,” says Suzanne. “It’s important to be able to share what you’re going through and bounce ideas off of other people who can relate and provide the support you need.”
This post was originally published at DietDoctor