I’ve always been overweight. Always.
There has never been a time in my nearly 28 years on this planet when I haven’t been fluffier than my peers or felt paralyzing shame at the thought of having my shirt off. With that history has come an ever shifting attitude; my mindset has ranged from “I’m worthless because I don’t have a 6 pack” to “this is the way I am and I don’t need to change.” In fact, I’ve blogged about the later on this site before. I’ve tried diets and supplements and even gym memberships but it always came back to food; I love food and I love everything that goes along with it! The time with people, the process of crafting a meal, the various tastes and combinations thereof – there doesn’t seem to be anything about food that I dislike except for the fact that with it often comes judgement by others. And plain, raw veggies.
The bottomline is that I’ve been a failure when it comes to food for most of my life. I’ve used it for a cure to boredom, relief from constant teasing, and as a barrier to unfair expectations. I’ve had ups and downs in the battle against this addiction but they mostly have tended to repeat over and over because I don’t learn from my errors. That changed this year with my efforts to live a Low Carb, High Fat lifestyle (LCHF, also known as Keto).
Over the last 5 months I’ve successfully lost 56 pounds. I’ve gone down 1.5 shirt sizes and 3 pant sizes by simply changing what and how much I was eating. With 19 pounds left until I hit my extended goal, I’m happier and healthier than I have been in quite some time. I still love food, even though I’ve been steadily losing weight, and I have been able to grow my love of cooking by discovering new and different recipes. It truly has been an adventure and I don’t see it ending.
Why has this worked when so many other methods failed? Here are 5 things I have realized in my 5 months of Keto:
Food is good
On a basic level, food is necessary and we can’t live without it. This is should be obvious but there is so much shame that surrounds eating! Food, in and of itself, is not bad but I have treated it as something that is sinful! Yes, there are some foods that are bad for you but you can’t go through life feeling guilty for eating a large meal or snacking during a football game – that guilt will only lead you to more eating or yo-yo dieting. The mindset that it is wrong to eat food is just as unhealthy as the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Diet Coke that we snag when we’re too lazy to cook.
Grown-Up food isn’t (always) gross
I’ve never liked vegetables but that has been slowly changing much to my wife’s joy. I can’t say if it is because I don’t eat sugar anymore or because I’m simply more brave than I have been in the past but so far I’ve had some wonderfully successful meals that have included veggies. Also, everything (including broccoli) tastes better when bacon is added to it.
It’s about the reason
I’ve attempted to “get thin” countless times but have never succeeded for more than a week or two – comfort foods are just too tempting. Probably the fittest I’ve ever been before now was when I played football during my sophomore year of high school and that was because I was running around so much (also rice cakes. rice cakes for every meal). My reason for getting fit then was because I didn’t want to be last when we were made to do laps around the field. All the other times were because I would compare myself to the models and athletes all over the media and think “I’m a disgusting pig”. This time is different though; back in December, my wife and I had a Baby Scare. It was a wonderful scare to have and unfortunately it didn’t end up how we wanted it to but it was a wake up call nonetheless. At the time, I had topped out at 305 pounds and was putting myself at risk of multiple diseases and physical problems; I had never been heavier and was literally eating myself to death. But then the chance of becoming a father hit me in the face and I realized that, when Stephanie and I do become parents, I wanted to be around to enjoy it! I had long since given up on changing myself for myself but for my family? That was doable. So on January 10th I said goodbye to my Mac&Cheese, Milk, Pizza, Sourdough Bread, Sugar and laziness. I began to take comfort not in food but in the fact that I was doing everything I could to support my family for many years to come. I had an original goal of 245 (and have since extended that to 230) but honestly my real goal has been to get to the point where I feel I have done everything I can for my wife and future kids.
People care about me
So many people love me. It’s amazing to see that now but at times has been very annoying. For the countless who have cheered me on, there have been a dozen or so that have texted, called, messaged, or said to my face that they think what I’m doing is dangerous and unhealthy. At the beginning I took offense to that because they didn’t have all the facts. They thought I was eating one way when I was eating the other. But what I’ve come to realize is that they all, in their own way, care for me: they want to see me healthy. True, their knowledge on Keto is not as high as my own (I’d researched it for months before finally committing to the change) but their reasons for voicing their concern was more important. I would rather have people around me that care and are slightly less informed than nobody even taking notice at all. (Side Note: I’ve talked to various doctors and they say I’m totally fine and that my scans/bloodtests are proof of it.)
My worth has not increased
I am not worth more as a person because I’ve lost 56 pounds. As a human being, I am no more worthy of respect or kindness now than I was back in December. There is a misguided social movement right now called “Fat Acceptance” which pushes people to see those that are overweight as beautiful and attractive just the way they are (this has lead to a couple obese fashion models and the like). While I don’t subscribe to 100% of their rhetoric, I do agree that all people are worthy of being loved and respected. For me it is simple conclusion based on my faith; humanity is made in the image of God. There is no part of me that believes God is glorified when we treat others like dirt simply because of their weight. Are their eating habits unhealthy? Yes. Should they be encouraged to eat differently? Yes. But shaming your fellow man/woman/child because of what and how much they put into their mouths is not love. I have been on the receiving end of that shame from various people for much of my life; it honestly never did anything to help me want to get healthy. It often had the opposite effect entirely.
Keto has changed my life for the better but the real answer to getting healthy was not that I needed to eat under 30 carbs a day or stop drinking multiple gallons of milk by myself every week. Keto (and all its glorious bacon) is simply the tool that I’ve used to put my changed perspective into action. I have found that the answer to losing weight was to stop being selfish and to recognize that others needed me and loved me, regardless of my size.
God will always love me regardless of the numbers on the scale and I am worthy of respect from others because I am a human being. But I have a responsibility as a husband and Christian man to support my family. Whether our family size succeeds in growing beyond just myself and my wife isn’t up to us but I know that what I have accomplished and what I intend to continue is good for me and those that I love.
There’s no shame in that.
If you would like more information on Keto, please take a look at the reddit community page. There are links at the top to answer many of the frequent questions that people have.