Charlotte had a weight issue her entire life, and despite experimenting with various diets, she was never able to get it under control.
In 2019, after Charlotte realized that she could no longer recognize herself in the mirror, a friend introduced her to a keto diet and intermittent fasting. And finally, the door opened.
In just 18 months, Charlotte lost 75 pounds (34 kilos), reversed her pre-diabetes, and improved her sleep issues and arthritis.
“I am finally living my best life,” Charlotte says.
Here, Charlotte shares why she thinks slowly reducing your carb intake may be a good idea, what keto meals she eats in a typical day, and why the word “crêpe” makes her cringe.
Charlotte’s story has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Charlotte’s keto journey
My name is Charlotte, and I’m 52 years old. I live in Florence, South Carolina, USA.
I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember, despite following many different weight loss plans to reduce my weight. In the end, I always gained it all back, along with some additional pounds. In addition to this, I found out that I was prediabetic seven years ago.
The longest streak that I’ve been able to follow a diet, consistently, was for six months. That time, it was to lose weight before my daughter got married. I religiously followed the diet plan and struggled to lose about 20 pounds (9 kilos) over those six months.
Right after my daughter’s marriage, I resumed my regular eating habits, and my weight ballooned back up. I ate carb-rich food throughout the day, and every night I indulged in dessert, usually ice cream. At the time, I was eating anywhere from 250 to 400 carbs per day!
In Feb. 2019, I had to travel for business and needed a seat-belt extender. At the video conference, I had to watch myself on a screen all day long. That’s when I realized that I didn’t recognize myself.
When I got home, I decided to make a change. I was at my all-time highest weight of 282 pounds (128 kilos), which is significant because I’m only 5-foot-2-inches (157 cm).
I began researching on the internet. This time, I wasn’t looking for the latest gimmick, but rather, I needed to find something that I could stick to for life.
A girlfriend of mine mentioned how the keto diet and intermittent fasting had had a positive impact on her life. I’d tried low carb in the past but didn’t eat enough fat. That wasn’t sustainable.
I came across Dr. Jason Fung‘s videos and that led me to Diet Doctor. I consumed the information throughout Mar. 2019 and I decided that I had nothing to lose but the weight.
I began by gradually decreasing my carb intake and working up to an 18-hour fasting window. In the first week, I focused on keeping daily carbs under 200 grams and ensured that those carbs came from fresh food and no added sugar.
In the second week, I reduced my carb intake to 150 grams, and in the third week, I was down to 75 grams per day. By the end of March, I had successfully reduced my carb intake to less than 20 grams per day. I believe that this slow step-down approach helped me avoid the keto flu.
When I’d successfully followed this way of eating for several months, I went on vacation with my family. There was a crêperie in the town we visited, and so I decided that I wanted to have crêpes for dinner.
My husband and I split both a sweet and savory crêpe. In the next few days, I felt horrible. All of the sugar that I consumed threw my body for a loop, and I felt like someone had drugged me.
I learned my lesson. If I even mention that I crave something sugary, my husband says, “CRÊPE,” it reminds me that I never want to feel that way again. It’s a great deterrent and probably one of my most important lessons learned on this journey.
A typical day for me now consists of coffee in the morning (with some heavy cream). I usually don’t eat until later in the afternoon, and then, I mostly break my fast with some eggs, homemade chicken salad, or a pizza chaffle. Sometimes, I wait and only have dinner with my husband.
I eat a fair amount of low-carb vegetables every day and various dishes with protein and healthy fat. Every once in awhile, I’ll splurge on some blueberries or dark chocolate. The fact that I no longer crave sweets, bread, pasta, or potatoes still amazes me. I finally feel like I have control of my health and well-being.
I don’t follow a formal exercise program. To tone up my arms, I do some repetitions with my kettlebell. But I feel that my way of eating has been the real reason for my success – and not exercise.
A little over 18 months later, I’m down 75 pounds (34 kilos). I still have about 30 pounds (14 kilos) more to lose. I feel confident that I’ll get there since this way of eating is easy to maintain for the rest of my life.
My parents joined me on this journey a couple of months after I started. I told them all of the positives that I had experienced, and they have lost about 100 pounds (45 kilos) combined.
As two of my daughters have seen my success, they recently started a low-carb diet too. We’re all amazed that once we got started with this way of eating, it became such a natural way of life. I have not felt deprived as I have in the past with other plans.
I used to have trouble with my knees and arthritis in my shoulders. The inflammation has reduced so much that I have no problem getting on the floor to play with my granddaughters and getting back up without help. I can run up and downstairs.
I’m finally able to sleep on my side, and I sleep throughout the night. My blood sugar is consistently in the normal range. I feel better at 52 years old than I did when I was in my 30s. And I’m no longer prediabetic. I feel like I am finally living my best life.
My top three tips for starting low carb are:
- Use other measurements than the scale. Don’t just rely on the scale to determine if you’re successful with this way of eating. Focus on how you feel and how your clothes fit instead. Pay attention to how your skin looks and what you can do that you couldn’t do before reducing your carb intake.
- Don’t forget to add electrolytes. It’s imperative to get these key nutrients in your diet each day. I add lite salt with added potassium to my coffee and water and have a magnesium cream in addition to choosing foods that are rich in these nutrients. I can tell if I don’t get enough each day because I have leg cramps and anxiety. Electrolytes make a huge difference.
- Get support. I am truly blessed to have a strong support system. My husband has been my biggest cheerleader, and he’s always made me feel great about this journey. My family celebrates my successes and encourages me. If you don’t have that type of support system available to you, go to the Diet Doctor Facebook group. The positive support and encouragement there make a world of difference. You’re not alone on this journey!
Thank you again!
Congrats on your success, Charlotte! I really appreciate your tips of not being ruled by the scale and make sure you get support. Those are both so important! And I love how your success has led to your family’s success as well. Their health is from your work. Keep it up!
/ Dr. Bret Scher
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