I really never had a problem with my weight or my health.. until I did.
I lived an overall healthy life, trying to eat fruits and vegetables when I could but also enjoying eating out and having happy hour with my friends.
I worked out regularly because I liked the way I felt after… but never did anything too crazy or had any set workout routine.
Then enter…. The competition world.
I was highly encouraged by a trainer at my local gym in 2014 to compete in the bikini division at a bodybuilding competition in the spring.
And this is where my first experience with ‘dieting’ began… and using KETO to get me to a low percent body fat.
At first, I was SO EXCITED to start a new meal plan and training plan to help me get even LEANER!
However, I quickly realized that cutting out every carbohydrate from my diet was a very difficult thing to do.
Here are some of the things I QUICKLY started experiencing
-No focus (I literally had to take a final exam in college and could barely read the sentences)
-Was not sleeping well
-Had no sex drive
-Lost my period
-Was cranky ALL the time
-DREAMED of pancakes, birthday cakes, and bread every single night
-Would wake up in the middle of night literally sweating for no reason
-Lost my strength in the gym
-Began experiencing body dysmorphia for the first time
…and these were just a FEW of the negative side effects of only eating fat and protein and VERY low carbs (my only carbs allowed at the time were the ones from peanut butter and vegetables)
I did this straight for 5 months… with a 1 day “cheat meal” that actually ended up turning into a CHEAT DAY most days.
I was motivated to stay the course, as I was seeing myself getting leaner than I ever was able to get, but my friend group was getting smaller, and so was my social life.
I was doing hours of cardio a day or spending time TRYING to lift in the gym with the little energy that I had.
I started doing poorly on my exams in college because I couldn’t focus. I always felt like I was going to fall asleep – but then never could fall asleep when I went to lay down.
I started constantly comparing my body to other people’s bodies..
-Was I lean enough?
-Did my back have more muscle?
-Did I have less body fat around my midsection than that other girl?
-Why don’t my abs look like hers?
-When will this ‘hip fat’ go away?
I competed in my first competition in 2014 and got 4th place out of 12, which I was pretty happy with. I never strayed away from my keto plan for months and months and months and was extremely dedicated to hit the stage and be 'stage ready'.
However, what happened AFTER competing and following the keto diet was unlike anything I had ever experienced.
After competing, I began reintroducing carbs again a very slow and manageable way. But what I found out is that as soon as I added carbs back in…. the weight kept coming on… faster and with a vengeance.
My metabolism was so down-regulated from stripping down my carbs that as soon as it had access to quality carbohydrates, my body wanted to store them, afraid I wouldn’t provide the proper nourishment again later that week.
The scale kept climbing and climbing, and I soon was at my heaviest weight I had ever seen on the scale.
I was no longer lean. I was HEAVY. I had a horrible relationship with food and I was scared to eat fruit. I remember crying at the grocery store thinking I couldn’t buy a nectarine because of what it would do to my weight and I didn’t want to gain any more weight than I already had.
I was so scared of stepping on the scale. I went from wearing an XS when competing to a Large or an XL in some sizes so it was a ‘baggier’ fit and people wouldn’t notice how much weight I gained.
I was so scared to eat.
-Do I eat “clean”?
-Do I try to eat some carbs?
-Fruit has carbs so its bad. I shouldn’t eat a lot of that.
-What if I just try to have one cheat day a week?
-I can fit four chocolate chip cookies into my macros, right?
These were just a few of the thoughts that would roll around in my head daily. The scale kept creeping up. I was horrified at what competing did to my body as well as my general outlook on food.
Soon after that, I developed a binge eating disorder. The restrictions I had put on food ultimately backfired and I went back to not only doing cheat DAYS, but cheat WEEKS where I would allow myself to eat ANY food I wanted in LARGE amounts. Some days I’m sure I was eating close to 4 or 5,000 calories.
I felt sick most days. I was sleeping better, but still had little energy since my blood sugars were all over the place from eating any food in sight.
I couldn't control my cravings. I was so embarrassed that I couldn't get my eating or my health under control.
THAT is what keto did to me - long term.
I ended up seeking professional help for a binge eating disorder not long after. Asking for help was one of the hardest things I ever had to do - considering I had a graduate degree in nutrition and felt that I should 'know how to fix this'.
Bingeing for me came out of a season of extreme restriction - aka following a diet that restricted a major macronutrient that is vital for your body's functioning - carbohydrate.
It took me about three years to finally heal my metabolism, and come to a healthy spot mentally where ALL foods were incorporated into my diet again, and I didn't place restrictions on 'good' or 'bad' foods or 'clean' or 'unclean' foods.
You see, anyone can lock themselves in a closet and not eat carbs, or ONLY eat chicken and broccoli, or eat in a very low calorie deficit.
But that's not REAL life.
Keto wasn't designed for forever.. it never was. What are the odds that you will NEVER eat a carb again? Pretty slim, if you ask me.
In my opinion, the keto diet is one of the worst fad diets out there - not only does it mess with your metabolism following a diet such as this one can have SEVERE consequences on your mental health as well as hormone imbalances.
If I would have known the emotions and mental obstacles I would have gone through prior to starting the keto diet, I would have never followed it in the first place.
When I see people on social media just "starting" their keto diet journey... I wish I could stop them and show them what detrimental affects it has on your health - mental AND physical.
That is one of the main reasons I started Limitlyss Wellness. I wanted to help coach people on how to eat the RIGHT way to lose body fat and how to keep it off.
The answer isn't to strip out all your carbohydrates.
The answer isn't just to exercise for 2 hours every single day.
The answer isn't just to stay in a big calorie deficit.
None of these methods are sustainable long term, which is what you need to look at when choosing a weight loss method... can you SUSTAIN this??
True fat loss takes TIME.
Left: After I stopped following keto, binge eating most nights of the week, restricting food during the day
Right: Current physique today. Healthy, happy, exercising and not focusing on restriction.
The truth is...
ALL food can fit into a health diet (even when trying to lose weight).
Exercise is your FRIEND and overexercising can have harmful affects on your hormones.
Learning to eat the CORRECT way can help you find balance in all areas of your life.
Learning to love your body along the way and trust the process is truly a rewarding and life changing experience.
We have taught hundreds of people how to do these exact things with our Limitlyss Wellness coaching and programming.
We designed this programming after our personal experiences, and seeing others struggle just like we did.
We would love to help you with the next steps if you have struggled with fad diets most of your life and are eager to finally learn how to find balance with all foods.