Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Amy Southworth is 5 feet,11 inches tall and currently weighs 198 pounds. In 2018, after realizing the impact her weight was having on her health, she was inspired to lead a healthier life. This is her weight loss story, as told to Yahoo Lifestyle.
The Turning Point
I’ve always been overweight, as far back as I can remember. But it’s never really kept me from doing much until after I hit 40. I have degenerative disc disease and my back started bothering me as my weight crept up. I had successful spinal fusion surgery, but was still very heavy and struggled to lose weight. I was drastically cutting calories and not making healthy choices. My blood pressure was high, my A1c (a blood test for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes) was borderline diabetic, and my doctor threatened to put me on Metformin (a drug to treat diabetes). I was 345 pounds and tired all the time.
My mother, who had heart disease and diabetes, died in her sleep when she was 58. She was way too young. It scared me.
I was about to turn 50 in the spring of 2018. My doctor put me on a thyroid medication, and I lost a few pounds as a result. That got me motivated to continue. I quit drinking soda. I tried to eat a balanced diet. By the time I turned 50, I had lost about 40-45 pounds, which was progress, but I was still big — and I was hungry all the time.
I decided to try the keto diet (low carb, high fat, moderate protein). I took it one day at a time, made it through a week, and never looked back. I started out really basic food-wise. I’m a coffee drinker so I started my day with coffee and cream, and then fasted until lunch (I always packed my lunch for work), which was things like hard boiled eggs, protein powder shakes, cheeses, celery and dip, or a taco salad. For dinner, I had protein and veggies. I also didn’t use sugar substitutes at first.
After I got comfortable, I learned how to swap things out: zucchini noodles for pasta, Swerve zero-calorie sweetener for sugar to make a fantastic cheesecake, or pork rinds (which are keto-friendly) for chicken tenders breading. I still had to count calories, but I wasn’t hungry. All the fat and protein kept me full, and the weight fell off fast at first. I did exercise a bit, but only did things I could do at home. I bought some hand weights, and my son helped me with some ab workouts. I also walked some, but most of the weight loss was from diet.
I dropped 2-3 sizes in the first couple of months, which was super motivating. I went from a size 26/28 to a 12/14. I can fit in any chair or even a booth. Plus, once I gave up sugar, my mind cleared and my energy was way up. And all of my bloodwork is now normal. I wish I had done this years ago.
I’m still coming to terms with how I look. I’m not yet comfortable with the image in the mirror. I still have “fat brain” and ear worms that tell me all the negatives, but I constantly push them away. Physically, I feel so much better, lighter; it’s easier to move.
One thing that surprised me after losing weight was my loose skin. It was bad at first, but as time went on, my skin “shrunk.” It’s not perfect, but way better than I expected. My arms and belly area look better every day.
I don’t eat any sugar or packaged foods with the exception of some fruit occasionally and some low-carb bars for convenience. I eat lots of eggs, cheese, beef, chicken, fish, green veggies, nuts and peanut butter. I drink a lot of water. I don’t exercise like I should, and I know this is important. I recently rescued a puppy and we’re starting to go on walks. He’s going to help motivate me to get my walking back to 4-5 times per week, if not daily.
I plan my meals and pack my lunch for work. When I start my day with a plan of what I’m going to eat, I find I’m much more successful and less likely to deviate from that plan. I also mentally pat myself on the back. No more food rewards, though. Instead, I treat myself to a new article of clothing or a pedicure.
I stay motivated because I never want to look back. The future is bright, and I’m optimistic that I can maintain keto for life.
I’ve been lucky to not have many struggles. A few times I’ve wanted food that I shouldn’t have — mainly, cookies. I work through that by just ignoring the craving and waiting to see if it’s really something I want. If it is, I’ll usually go for a keto-friendly version. More times than not, the craving subsides.
Finding the right weight-loss program was key. In my case, keto fits me. I also found that being prepared and prepped food-wise keeps me on track.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!
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