My name is Kinsie Romero (@gymmademermaid), and I am 33 years old. I live in central California, and I am an ex-hairstylist turned stay-at-home mom. I decided I needed a lifestyle change after being diagnosed with hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia. By following the keto diet and adding cardio and strength training to my fitness routine, I lost 95 pounds.
My weight had been going up and down since I was a teen. When I was 16, my dad passed away suddenly, and I started using food more to cope. I joined my first weight-loss meeting senior year of high school and dropped more than 40 pounds. When I was in cosmetology school, my bad food habit got worse. I met my now husband, and continued my unhealthy relationship with food. Over two years, I gained 85 pounds. On my wedding day, I weighed 240 pounds.
When I was 25, I decided I wanted to lose weight, but it wouldn’t budge. That’s when I went to my doctor and was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I became pregnant with my son shortly after, and I lost 50 pounds over a year and a half postpartum. I found out that I was pregnant again. I put all the weight back on and then some. At 29 years old, I was struggling to get out of bed. At my heaviest in May 2019, I weighed almost 284 pounds.
At the same time, I began getting sick all the time with bronchitis and pneumonia. I developed headaches, anxiety, depression, and joint, muscle, and nerve pain. I saw my doctor, and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I was offered very little help, and my lack of health became the catalyst that made me determined to help myself.
In September 2019, I committed myself to keto.
It took me a while to become serious about it, and it wasn’t until April 2020 when clarity hit me during lockdown. I knew I didn’t want to be sick, sad, or in pain anymore, and that nothing was going to change unless I did the work. I was tired of all my excuses, and I knew I had to buckle down and become committed to my diet and regular exercise.
Up until this point I had tried what seems like every diet available, and nothing felt sustainable. I started with “dirty keto,” which is keto including all the store-bought snacks. But I couldn’t stop listening to podcasts and reading books on low carb. I became enthralled with learning about the low-carb way of life. Slowly my diet morphed into high-protein keto. I started including intermittent fasting, along with tracking my macros. I also dropped gluten based on some recommendations for gut and thyroid. Now, I base my meals around protein, healthy fats, and veggies.
The easiest part about my approach to keto is that I never feel left out. I can almost always find something I can eat wherever I go. But mostly, I think it’s important to learn what does and doesn’t work for you. For instance, I love French fries! They aren’t keto, but I don’t think I have gone a week without eating at least a few. You have to have a little joy in your life. I think the all-or-nothing attitude to dieting is why people often fail. It’s about moderation and balance; I learned not to compromise joy for perfection.
Here’s what I eat in a day.
Breakfast: Coffee with a splash of heavy whipping cream and sugar-free syrup or iced coffee blended with protein powder.
Lunch: Fried eggs and sautéed broccoli with parmesan cheese.
Snacks: Low-carb yogurt with strawberries and stevia.
Dinner: Two large tuna patties and a Cobb salad with dressing.
Dessert: I’m an ice cream kind of girl, but heavy whipping cream whipped with stevia, vanilla, and cocoa powder really does the trick when I have a sweet tooth.
I started exercising right away.
It was intimidating, and I was scared. I remember thinking, Wow, I’m the largest person in this gym!, and being truly awed by it. It was eye opening.
I knew close to nothing about exercise, so I started slow with walking and the stationary bike. Eventually, I incorporated all the machines that had pictures and instructions. And then moved on to YouTube demonstration videos.
My main goal was to get in at least 30 minutes of movement and elevate my heart rate no matter how slow I was. Sometimes all I could do was walk. I did that four days a week for one to two hours of mostly cardio until I got my endurance up. Now, I work out three days a week. One of those days is with my awesome trainer who is teaching me how to be confident on the weight training floor.
A typical day includes about an hour to hour and a half of weight and resistance training with a little cardio thrown in. It’s become an outlet, a safe place for me to take care of myself and sift through the weight of the week. I've learned to cherish my workouts.
These three changes have made my weight-loss journey successful.
I gave myself permission to fail. I knew it wasn't a matter of if but when I would fail or make a mistake. I knew I needed a game plan, so I decided to give myself grace, kindness, and forgiveness no matter the circumstances. There is no mistake too big that you can’t fix by starting over as soon as possible. If you plan action for when you fail, you never truly will.
I learned what my triggers were. I learned the mental correlation between overeating and what sends me looking for comfort in food. I started to ask myself what it is I really need. I make time to take a step back and look into why I feel what I feel. Often instead of eating all I need is to take a bubble bath, have a walk in the sunshine, or to confide in someone.
I gave myself time. In the past, the “get thin quick” mindset didn’t work for me. I wasn’t that person that could lose more than two pounds a week, so I became okay with the idea that I would lose slowly, and that I would both stall and gain many times over. I knew I was going to have to be in it for the long haul, and that it was not a diet but a lifestyle change. I got comfortable with slow weight loss and it made it easier for me when bumps in the road came along.
I’m currently down 95 pounds in two and a half years.
This may sound heavy, but my weight loss brought me back from the edge where I wasn’t really living despite having wonderful children and an amazing husband. I used to wake up and count down the hours until I could sleep again. Physical pain consumed me and stole my joy. During this time, I truly thought being a parent was about how much of myself I could sacrifice, but I couldn’t have been more wrong! I wholeheartedly believe that if we as women (parents especially) took the time to intentionally care for ourselves, not only will our quality of life improve, but so will the quality of life for those we care for.
It’s sort of like being on a plane when the attendant says to put your mask on first before helping a child. You have to take care of your needs first. Take the time to say kind things to yourself. Take the time to paint your nails and style your hair, join a book club, or fitness class!
Most importantly, if I could tell other women anything about what I’ve learned, it would be to stop waiting to be worthy of taking care of yourself. You are already worthy! You deserve the kind of care that you would give your child or best friend.
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