Weight Loss: A side story worth sharing



Problem: You are carrying around excess weight, and you have an inappropriate love for carbs.  Also, your mood and energy is a roller coaster.


Solution: Read the book “Why we get fat…” By Gary Taubes.


Full Story:  (Warning, this is really long, but I didn’t want to serialize it.)

First, pictures:

April 20th, 2018 and April 18th, 2019. 126 pounds gone!
Feb 2018 and March 19th-ish, 2019
Dec 30th, 2017 and Dec 30th, 2018
Feb ?? 2018 and March 2nd, 2019

Most of my family of origin is significantly overweight, yet I was skinny until I was about 11 years old, then I broke my foot one summer and the weight piled on.  For years I struggled with my weight, then during a college course (in my thirties!) on Health and Fitness, I managed to lose 90 pounds.  That was incredibly short lived, however.  The steps that took the weight off quickly stopped working, and despite all my efforts, the weight piled back on.  It also didn’t help that I broke my toe, derailing my half-marathon training.


Fast forward almost a decade.  I was at my heaviest (315.6), suffering from many, many health problems (fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, etc, etc), when my sleep apnea doctor recommended I try Keto (the Ketogenic Diet).  I looked into it, and it looked gross, so I passed.  Almost a year later, another doctor, simply recommended I read the book “Why we get fat…and what you can do about it.”  I bought the book on Audible and listened to it straight through in one day.  Then I re-listened to it.  And again.  This was around March 20th, 2018.  By March 24th, I had given up sugar, flour, rice, and potatoes.  I was still drinking some shakes high in fructose, as well as Diet Colas.  By April 1st, 2018 I had weaned myself off those and was full-on trying Keto.  


Now, I get that Keto isn’t for everyone, and yes it’s gross at times, especially for a former vegetarian.  I don’t eat beef, so that’s even harder for me at times.   The book changed my mindset entirely though.  I concentrated on lots of leafy green veggies, chicken breast, turkey, some pork (though not much), and a couple higher carb veggies like cauliflower and zucchini. 


Over the course of the next several months, I consistently lost 2 pounds a week.  The only exercise was mostly daily 15 minutes of yoga (more for the fibro pain than anything else), and the far-too-occasional dog walk.


Yes, I went through keto flu. Here’s what it looked like for me:

  • Terrible insomnia for about a week.
  • Terrible indigestion around 2-3am every night for about four or five days.
  • Terrible exhaustion (probably more from the insomnia than anything else) for about 5 days.


Then it was over.  I used urine test strips for about 3 months to make sure I wasn’t shedding too many ketones, which indicates dehydration.  I drank lots of water (about 150oz/day, since that was ½ my body weight in ounces), always with Mio Sport (or Mio Fit…it’s changed names). This is the Mio with Electrolytes.  Before you comment, yes it’s not Strict Keto, Yes I know that.  I’m super lucky that sucralose doesn’t trigger insulin release FOR ME.  You might not be so lucky.  Your cousin might not be so lucky.  That’s the key and the magic of this.  It’s all a grand experiment to figure out WHAT causes your body to release insulin, then don’t consume that.  


Two big (huge!!!) insulin triggers for me are actually fructose and aspartame.  I can get away with eating a fair amount of carbs a day now that I’m fat adapted (sometimes up to 50g net/day), and not trigger massive insulin release, unless I have a lot of fructose, or even a tiny amount of aspartame.  It’s individual.  Figure out what works for you.


I make a lot of my own foods, but I have pretty much a way to eat out at any restaurant.  We even go to Mexican frequently. I’m never tempted, I never cheat (though I’ve been dosed with sugar and aspartame thanks to drive-thrus and sneaky manufacturers).  I became an ingredient label detective.  There are dozens of names that sugar, flour, and starches can show up as. 


I even went to France for two weeks and didn’t cheat once. The desire isn’t there.  I militantly protect myself from any possible scenario where I might end up making a choice I’d regret. For example, in France, I rented an apartment for two weeks, so I’d have a fully stocked kitchen and could cook my own meals.  Sure we ate out here and there, but I was very diligent to make sure nothing sneaked in that would send me back to starting over with Keto Flu. 


When I go to parties, I bring my own dessert, made with monkfruit and stevia, so I don’t ever feel left out or deprived.  If I think I’ll have a gap between meals or my ability to find a Keto meal, I bring pepperoni sticks, cheese sticks, almonds, or quest bars (remember, I’m not strict Keto, I’m lazy/dirty keto for the most part).  I carry Mio with electrolytes and Whole Earth Stevia/Monkfruit blend everywhere.  I have stashes in my car, purse, office, friends’ and families’ houses…you name it.  This is 99% preparation.  


Yes, I’ve lost (as of this writing) 127.2 pounds.  I dropped from size 26 (tight) to a size 10 (actually the bathing suit I just bought is an 8!!!).  But…that’s seriously not the best part.  My pain has dropped from crippling to a minor annoyance.  I’m off the CPAP completely, my sleep apnea is gone.  I can run up the stairs multiple times without gasping for breath.  I can play on the floor with my grandbabies.  My energy level has done a complete 180.  My ability to focus has improved as well!  I no longer have 3pm sleepy spells that require some carbs to recharge to make it through the last couple of hours of work.  I am physically a different person, but also so much more.


Now.  Is it all sunshine and roses? No.  I’ll be upfront.  There are some mental hurdles to overcome.  Being so overweight was insulation for me, psychologically. I didn’t understand that until it was gone.  Being so overweight is like an invisibility cloak, protection, and a shield all in one.  When people look at you in some way, you can write it off as “It’s cause I’m fat.”  When you aren’t fat and people look at you cross eyed…what was that about?  What’s wrong with me? What did I do?  It can be a massive shift, and unveil a lot of stuff you didn’t know needed addressing.


This is where having the right support system is HUGE.  My therapist is amazing! I was working with her for a couple of years before I started Keto, and I just happened to luck out. She worked extensively with clients with anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders prior to helping me.  She gives me great exercises to work towards mentally coming to terms with where my body is now, versus where my mental image is.


Another thing is that as I became smaller, I experienced a very scary feeling of vulnerability.  There’s some past trauma I won’t get into, but the takeaway here is that (in my head), fat was insurance against re-experiencing that trauma.  “I won’t be targeted,” was the underlying theme.  Totally not in my awareness until it was gone, and I freaked out.  Again…working through that with the therapist, through awareness and journaling, and with the help of my amazing life/productivity/executive coach.


I’ve been working with the world’s best physical therapist, who happens to also do personal training.  I love that she both addresses the physical dysfunction causing the pain, but at the same time is moving me to an overall better physical place that reduces future flare ups.  Dr. Amy is the best and if you are in the Charlotte area, you must check her out.  I had to take a break with personal training while recovering from the cat-cussion, but that’s a post for a different day…


It’s been a huge journey.  And it’s not over.









Intro – Part 4: Transformation and beyond

Through the support of my amazing team: my amazing therapist (whom, probably, I’m supposed to not name. Though, she is seriously the best in Charlotte, NC!), the BEST physical therapist on the planet, the unbelievably supportive team at my fibro dr (special shout out to Latisha, one of the best cheerleaders on the planet!), the supportive staff at the hospital, my insanely supportive (and might I mention, forgiving!!!) family, the most patient boss in the world, and last, but not least, my executive/productivity/life coach, who has tied together all the various threads of my support team and kept me moving forward even when I couldn’t see the path…I have recovered.  Scratch that.  I’ve more than recovered.  I’ve transformed.  Prior to the Lyrica mess, things sucked, but I don’t think I realized how much.  Yeah, I definitely didn’t realize it.  I very much thought *I* was broken, damaged, wrong.  But I couldn’t even conceptualize how to start to fix it all.  There was so much to do, to fix, and I could barely tread water.

Many of the things I have implemented in the last 18 months since the trip to the hospital, (and many of the lessons I learned in the hospital), directly address ADHD symptoms, or at least, the emotional ramifications I feel like come from having ADHD (disappointing others, or myself, etc.).  Several of my wonderful pit crew have suggested I share this info with others.  At one point I described an ADHD intervention I implemented as my “Brainspanx, you know, like a support structure that holds in all my wobbly bits.”  Thus, Brainspanx was born.  I couldn’t have done this without all of the support of all these great professionals, (as well as my husband, my children, my family and friends), and come out on the other side so much healthier and happier without their knowledge-sharing and constant encouragement.  When you read this blog, if I ever write “I,” translate that to mean “I, (with the help/backing/encouragement/guidance of many, many others who are far smarter than me).” Cause that’s the reality.

This blog is a love letter to them, and a life line from them to you (with a detour through my weird sense of humor).  Some ideas came to me, sure.  However, any of those ideas wouldn’t have entered my Adjacent Possible without all the information pulled in from my support systems, webinars, books, blogs, and articles, and even the college classes I ended up taking.  Without encouragement to try some pretty silly things, nothing would have changed.  In all honesty – and I do not feel like this is an exaggeration – I might not have survived the last two years at all.

I’m purposefully keeping most posts super short (hello, ADHD readers!), and give a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) synopsis at the beginning of each main post.  If you have time or interest, I’ll give additional details and some backstory where applicable.

Welcome to my journey.



April 20th, 2018 and April 18th, 2019. 126 pounds gone!




Intro – Part 3: Things get scary

At some point I started to have “pop ups” of wanting to die. I describe them as pop ups because I’d be bopping down the high way, listening to music, dancing in my seat, then suddenly think “I need to slit my throat.” WTF!?!?!? It was, to put it mildly, horrible. I thought I was losing my mind. Things began deteriorating rapidly. I felt crippling anxiety and depression. Constantly overwhelmed, stupid, and unable to do anything at all. At work, everything was a “big amorphous blob,” and I didn’t know where to start, what the goals were, or who to ask. At some point in the beginning of December, I arranged for my dogs to be taken care of by my brother, and I asked my ex-husband to take our son and the flaming narcissist exchange student for a couple of days. Then I drove myself to the emergency room and had myself committed. Other than the ex-husband, I didn’t tell anyone where I was going. In my mental state at that time only two things really stood out. I didn’t think anyone would notice I was gone, and I didn’t want to bother anyone. This, of course, made my family insane with worry (sorry, fam!).

Come to find out – in a very small portion of people – Lyrica does this. I was voluntarily committed for 5 days. They weaned me off the Lyrica and started me on anti-psychotic meds to combat the suicidal thoughts and hallucinations caused by the formerly wonder drug. These symptoms, it turned out, would take weeks to go away. I took a break from my ADHD meds, as a side effect is anxiety.

Then, under the care of my amazing therapist, I embarked on an extreme self-care regime to heal my mental state.



Intro – Part 2: Things Sucked, then looked better

In October 2017, there was (as always) a great deal of chaos in my life.

We were hosting the most obnoxious, narcissistic, demanding exchange student on the planet which was triggering a lot of stuff for me in a long history of dealing with obnoxious, demanding narcissists. I had just moved into a new townhouse, and had decided to give up fostering children as I was finding this too emotionally difficult. I was battling constant exhaustion, which I was assured was related to my recent diagnosis of sleep apnea. Combine this with nearly 150 extra pounds I was carrying and the additional diagnosis of fibromyalgia about 10 years earlier. I was a walking disaster.

Nights were filled with constant pain, flipping from side to back, to the other side, back to my back. I was only comfortable for about 15 mins, then the position would become too painful to stay put. The sleep study revealed I never actually hit REM sleep. I switched to a new fibromyalgia doctor, and he put me on a glorious new medicine: Lyrica. For six weeks I had the most amazing sleep I’d had in years. The constant pain was tolerable enough to stay in 2-3 positions all night. I was in heaven. Mostly. And then it all started to go a bit wrong.



Intro – Part 1

I’ve always had trouble with procrastinating, with keeping anywhere I lived tidy, and being able to give any attention to anything for very long. In my 30s, I was diagnosed as ADHD. At first (for years…), I didn’t quite believe the doctors, but as I read many books on the subject, everything started to make sense. My entire school career made sense. My inability to keep my backpack, locker, or bedroom neat for even a day or two. My “flitting” from one thing to another (I’m great at starting things, nsm at finishing). Impulsivity in finances (vacillating from broke to stable and back again every other month), and again, procrastination – my constant companion.

In fact, it was procrastination, and a crippling anxiety over failure, (coupled with negative performance review at work), that really pushed me to seek answers. I’m not exactly being honest. The truth is my performance review wasn’t overall negative. Overall it was very positive, however, it wasn’t entirely positive. Specifically, I was told I needed to improve in one area.  And in my mind, it was therefore entirely negative (more on that in a later post). But all you need to know at the moment is that it felt negative to me where I was at the time, which I reacted to in the only way I knew how. I was going to fix the shit out of this. And by “this,” I meant “me.”

To be continued…