My name is Emily Kessinger (@emily_in_keto on Instagram and Tiktok), and I'm 23 years old. I live in Boise, Idaho, and I work in criminal justice. I struggled with my weight and disordered eating my whole life until I tried keto and intermittent fasting and started working out. I've now lost 75 pounds.
I have had struggles with my weight and self image for as long as I can remember. In middle school, I asked my parents to let me try a diet program that my dad had successfully lost 150 pounds doing. The diet consisted of bars, shakes, and salads—and I started severely restricting my eating.
After my freshman year of high school, my family moved from Oregon to Idaho. I didn't know anyone at my new school, I stopped playing basketball, and I became really isolated socially. That's around the time I realized that I was struggling with disordered eating. I barely ate while at school. When I got home, I would binge eat in my room. I was in a terrible cycle of restricting, binging, and purging.
In 2015, I graduated high school and went to college. I got into an exercise routine and actually lost about 15 pounds. I started dating someone my sophomore year, and gaining weight rapidly. We ate out all the time, at all hours of the day. I also experienced a lot of trauma from that relationship and breakup, which ultimately led me turn to food to cope.
At age 20, I was at my heaviest weight of over 250 pounds.
That same year, I did blood testing, and my doctor told me I was on the cusp of being prediabetic.
My blood sugar was high, and if I didn’t make a change, I would end up with diabetes. Heart disease, obesity, and diabetes runs in my family, and I knew I didn’t want that for myself.
In January 2018, I finally made a change. I was visiting friends in Portland, and I ended up getting food poisoning. I was throwing up for five days straight. During that time, I reflected on how my body felt. I felt horrible and miserable in my own skin. I knew I wasn't fueling my body correctly in general.
I started researching different diets and ways to lose weight, and that's when I found keto.
I watched hours of YouTube videos as I sat in bed sick. In the past I had tried restricting my foods to reduce calories and lose weight. However, that backfired and I would binge. I had tried weight-loss pills, drinks, shakes—you name it. But as I saw all the foods these people were eating and losing weight with on keto, I knew it was something I could actually do. I officially started keto on January 12, 2018.
On keto, I'm not constantly wondering where my next meal is coming from. I have so much energy, my focus is incredible, and it makes me feel so confident. I also sometimes do intermittent fasting. When I lost the majority of my weight I was also doing IF, and only ate between 12 and 8 p.m.).
Here’s what I eat in a day now.
Breakfast: If I am fasting, just black coffee. If not, I may have scrambled eggs in a low-carb tortilla.
Lunch: Salad with chicken, veggies (onion, bell pepper, radish), cheese, and ranch.
Snacks: Almonds, string cheese, protein bar, or berries.
Dinner: I always try to get a veggie in, like Brussels sprouts or asparagus! I will pair that with a protein such as steak, pork, or a soup.
I did not start consistently working out until I had lost about 30 pounds (about two months into my journey).
I had lost quite a bit of weight at this point and felt like it was time to start toning. Because I was in college, prior to starting to work out in a gym, I walked a lot on campus. When I started working out, I got really into running. Especially when COVID hit and gyms closed, I started running outside a lot.
In March 2020, I ran my first 5k, and then ran my second one six months later.
Now when I go to the gym, I run a mile or two as a warm up. Then I start using free weights or machines. Each day I focus on a target muscle group (arms, abs, legs, etc.). I work out five days a week following this plan.
These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight-loss results.
I combined keto with intermittent fasting. This helped me limit my snacking, and ensured I ate two large and filling meals that were healthy! It also ensured I drank a lot of water. If I ever felt even slightly hungry, drinking water would fill me up.
I took away temptations. When I was out and about, I always made sure I had some kind of snack that would be available if I was hungry or needed something quick. I was so busy when I started this journey, and always made sure that was not an excuse for poor eating.
I started journaling for accountability. This one was *huge* for me. Part of the reason I feel like I failed previously was because I made no effort to hold myself accountable. I decided to start journaling this time. I would take measurements, photos, and find motivational quotes and throw them in the journal. I was able to see my mental and physical progress. My roommate was another huge accountability asset. She also started making healthy choices and exercising with me. If I didn't feel like going to the gym, she was there to cheer me on. I also created my Instagram page as a way to hold myself accountable.
I have lost a total of 75 pounds.
When I started my weight loss journey, I was a full-time college student, an intern, and working full-time managing a hotel in downtown Boise. I say this because so many people say they “don’t have time” and use that as an excuse. When you want something, you make time!
Before keto, I was so uncomfortable in my own skin. I was afraid to do certain things and lacked a lot of confidence. I was afraid someone would judge me due to my weight. This held me back from doing things I now love to do (like hiking, running, working out, and being social!). Remember that your journey is just that—your own. Just because someone else is doing something similar to you doesn’t mean your results will mirror theirs.
It may take you more or less time to reach your goals. Don't let that hold you back. I often have to remind myself that every day I am waking up with the intention to better myself, for myself.
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