Testimony of the Day
Photo Testimony: “I remember starting my first “diet” and attending my first Weight Watchers meeting at age 10, and for almost 40 years, I battled constantly with my weight. I was an expert at losing the weight, but could never keep it completely off for long, and like many, found myself caught in a vicious “yo-yo” weight loss cycle. It felt like I was always at odds with the scale, always at war with food. And I was always hungry.
For almost 40 years, I tried every diet that came along in search of the magic bullet that would make me thin, keep me thin, and satisfy constant hunger. I restricted food, weighed my food, and counted calories. I attended meetings, weighed in, and kept food diaries. I popped diet pills, drank weight loss formulas, and ate protein bars to curb hunger. Over the years, I’d go for weeks at a time eating nothing but cottage cheese, or grapefruit, or rice cakes, or low-fat yogurt, or Special K cereal with skim milk, or Diet Coke and gummy bears (they’re low-fat, right??).
In a final act of desperation, I enrolled in a very expensive, hospital-based, medically supervised weight loss program, which required that I drink nothing but protein shakes (taking in under 800 calories a day) for six months. I did that twice. It “worked” – both times. I spent a lot of money – both times. I lost a lot of weight – both times. But consuming only protein shakes for the rest of my life was not a sustainable solution for me. The minute low-fat food was re-introduced, I gained all the weight back that I lost, and then some.
It wasn’t as difficult to keep the pounds off as a teenager – especially during my high school years (while in marching band) and during college years (as a dancer/singer working, performing in live shows and parades at Walt Disney World for four summers), because I was so active. I still struggled with hunger, though, and had to watch the scale like a hawk. In my mid-twenties and into my thirties, the diet gimmicks worked for a while, and I fluctuated between 124 lbs. and 150 lbs. But as I reached my forties, things started to change. I couldn’t keep the weight off. And by the time I reached my late forties, I had gained 200 lbs. I reached my highest weight. At 5 feet 4 inches, I weighed 344 lbs. And I was very afraid.
I continued to struggle with food and went through periods of “all or nothing”…starving myself (“nothing”), and when that wasn’t working, I would eat whatever (“all”), because it just didn’t seem to matter. I couldn’t lose the weight when I was starving. I couldn’t lose it when I was eating a low-fat diet and exercising, as my physicians prescribed. I was beyond discouraged. I was exhausted from extremely stressful situations in my work environment and at home. And I was struggling to balance the challenges of being the primary caregiver for my mother (who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes) for eight years prior to her death in April 2010.
As I cared for my Mom during those years, I witnessed how type 2 diabetes ravaged her health and destroyed her once full and vibrant life, until complications from the disease took her life at age 74. My wonderful Mom taught me how to live. But her greatest gift to me was showing me that type 2 diabetes and the litany of complications that accompany it were not the way to die. I knew that I had to do something, but had no idea what that “something” was. Eating a low-fat diet and exercising more – as my doctors prescribed – were only making me hungrier, sicker, and fatter. I was exhausted all the time. I felt like a complete failure.
Until November 5, 2009, when I had the great fortune of finding and coming under the medical care of Eric C. Westman, MD – Founder and Director of the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC; President of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, and internationally known researcher and expert in the clinical use of ketogenic diet (no sugar/no starch) to manage obesity and to prevent and reverse diseases – including type 2 diabetes. Before meeting Dr. Westman, I had no idea that everything that I’d learned about nutrition was wrong. I had no idea that the “low-fat diet” that the “experts” had been telling me to eat was precisely what was making permanent weight loss virtually impossible for me. Most importantly, I had no idea that low-fat dieting was silently setting me up for the very same things (type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity) that ultimately caused my Mom’s death.
Thankfully, my Mom’s story won’t be mine, because in almost 4.5 years since implementing Dr. Westman’s (SEE PHOTO: me and Dr. Westman) no sugar/no low starch approach (from November 2009 to current, May 2014), I have lost 205 lbs. and kept it off. (I lost 120 lbs in first year; 85 lbs in second year; and another 20 lbs in third year and have maintained total loss over almost two years since reaching my goal). Thanks to Dr. Westman, I have learned to thrive with a well-formulated ketogenic diet – high in fat, optimal protein, and very low in carbohydrate. All of this without surgery.
I enjoy beautiful, fresh foods every day. I eat right at or under 20g Total carbohydrate a day, comprised of good fats (olive oil, coconut oil), full-fat dairy (butter, heavy whipping cream, cheeses), eggs (yolks and whites); optimal protein (chicken, beef, poultry, pork, seafood); non-starchy vegetables (lettuce, kale, spinach, onion, tomatoes, green beans, squash, zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers); and only occasionally, very low carb fruits (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries).
I don’t remember craving sugary or starchy foods, after about the 3rd journey. I learned that once the foods that caused those problems were eliminated from the diet, the hunger took care of itself. But during those first weeks, if I did have a craving, I knew I had delicious foods I could choose from (bacon!). So I planned and always had low carb options available, in case was hungry. I also found that if I ate enough fat, and kept away from the carbs, the cravings would disappear. And cravings and hunger became things of the past. Just as Dr. Westman said they would. And I’ve never looked back.
Currently (May 2014), I am 53 years old, I weigh 139 lbs., and have more energy than I did thirty years ago. My arteries are clear and my blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and A1C levels are all beautifully normal. Hard to believe for those who don’t understand the science behind a ketogenic way of eating. But it is true.
I can tell you that I have the best health of my life and my healthiest, happiest years ahead…because of Eric Westman, MD, and because of others who know the science and understand that very low carb foods are the most powerful medicine we have. We can heal broken metabolisms and prevent and reverse a myriad of health conditions by simply eating beautiful, fresh very low sugar/very low starch foods that truly nourish us on all levels.
We can’t exercise our way out of a bad diet. But we really can heal ourselves with the right one. I am beyond thankful for Dr. Westman and for his work with me and with so many others. To say that it changed my life is an understatement. Dr. Westman’s approach has saved my life. I’m beyond thankful. And I’m thrilled to finally find a wonderfully delicious, truly nutritious way of eating that is sustainable, healthy, and absolutely right for me.
For the first time in my life, I am no longer at war with food. No longer at war with the scales. No longer at war with myself.”
If you want to get started on your path to health and healing with a ketogenic diet, click HERE to get started! You deserve it!
If you are looking at the odd shaped things I am holding and aren’t sure what they are, let me introduce you to an amazing mushroom called the morel! These tasty things cost around $50/pound when they are in season and I finally found 3 pounds (after a lot of searching)! They have a strong meaty texture with a nutty profile. It is a great way to fill a zero-carb Protein Bread sandwich if you are a vegetarian and trying to eat keto. They are also filled with iron (non-heme iron) for those of you who are vegetarian or just low in iron.
I just got off the Low Carb Cruise and if you know me at all, you understand that I live in the woods and I am not use to being surrounded by people. So once I was on dry land I spent my free time walking in nature trying to suck up the beauty and solitude that I missed so much. Don’t get me wrong, the cruise was a great experience, I personally am not use to being around people non-stop:)
Anyway, while I was on my hike, I was walking very fast because mosquito season is upon us and I don’t believe in bug spray. I glanced down and saw the most amazing thing! The mushroom I have been searching for! I even did a group search with a bunch of friends trying to find these beauties with no luck.
Once I started foraging, the mosquitoes and thorns cutting up my sun-burned legs (from the cruise) no longer mattered. I spent the next hour picking morels.
Morels are a fungus right?
One question I get is that shouldn’t we avoid mushrooms because they are a fungus? Yes, they are. I wouldn’t recommend fungus for anyone with Candida. But once you heal Candida, mushrooms are a great low carb food which is also one of the only foods that naturally have vitamin D!
NOTE: some exotic mushrooms have too much starch for most people to stay in ketosis.
Mushrooms have been used in China and Japan for more than 3,000 years for medicinal uses such as to boost immunity and fight diseases such as cancer. The US has only just begun the exploration of mushrooms’ health benefits in the last decade. Many compounds in mushrooms have been found to stimulate the immune system, boost intestinal flora and inhibit tumor growth. Predominantly, fungi have elements called terpenoids which help kill viruses and bacteria and apply anti-inflammatory effects.
More specifically, morels are known for improving cardiovascular health due to their high content of copper, vitamin E and potassium. They are also known for lowering the risk of prostate cancer due to their high levels of niacin and selenium.
NOTE: NEVER eat morels raw.
- 1 lb morels or other mushroom, rinsed and halved
- 4 TBS organic butter, unsalted
- 2 tsp fresh herbs of choice (sage/thyme/rosemary)
- ½ tsp Celtic Sea Salt
- Heat large saucepan over medium heat. Add morels. Cook until mushrooms give up much of their liquid.
- In the meantime, in a separate saucepan, heat the butter on medium-high heat until it sizzles and brown flecks appear (watch closely, you don’t want black butter). Whisk the butter until a dark golden brown. Remove from heat. Add herbs if you desire to infuse the butter with more flavor.
- Pour the liquid from the morel pot. Reserve this for stock. Tastes amazing.
- Pour browned butter onto the morels and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt. Serve immediately.
- Makes 4 servings.
Brown Butter Morels = 117 calories, 11g fat, 1.1g protein, 2g carbs
(88% fat, 4.5% protein, 7.5% carbs)