Diet EAT HACK

How I Lost 65 Pounds in 1 Year (Updated 75 Pounds)

How I Lost 65 Pounds in 1 Year (Updated 75 Pounds)
How Intermittent Fasting and a Low Carb diet changed my life and helped me lose 65 pounds in one year.

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My Weight Loss Story

I want to start by saying I never thought I’d ever be in a place to share my weight loss story, or tips and tricks about how to lose weight. I never thought I’d want to talk about my weight or eating at all. But the past year has been the most transformative of my life. And since I didn’t do it alone, I want to help others by sharing what worked for me and resulted in my 65 75 pound weight loss. This post was originally posted on January 22, 2020 – I have updated this post because the progress has continued and I am now down 75 pounds following this protocol. Here is my weight loss story.

So here is my wight loss story

By the end of 2018 I was the heaviest of my life (not counting my pregnancy). I was 224 pounds, a snug size 16, and I hated how I looked. My breaking point was my son’s 1st birthday. I didn’t want to be in pictures with him because he was so adorable and I was…not adorable. I didn’t want to spend my life avoiding being in pictures with my son.

How I Lost 65 Pounds in 1 Year (Updated 75 Pounds)
This is one of the few pictures I took with my son at his first birthday party.

My Sister-in-law’s Weight Loss Story

About the same time I noticed my sister-in-law had dropped some major weight. She had always been fit, hit the gym regularly, did boot camps, all the stuff you’re supposed to do. And she’d always been thoughtful about how she ate, especially after her 3 kids. So seeing her lose a noticeable amount of weight over just a few months really got my attention.

She told me that after she and my brother hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro (crazy, right?!) she was shocked that after all the training and the actual hike she’d only lost like 3 pounds. She acknowledged that she’d definitely gained some muscle but that aside, she felt like what she’d been doing wasn’t working. And she was frustrated. So she decided that she’d give my brother’s method a chance.

My brother, David, started following low carb and Intermittent fasting about 6 months earlier. He’d lost 40 pounds in that time, just by following basic low carb eating (no sugar, no refined carbs, etc..) and a 8:16 hour fasting schedule (with a few 24 hour fasts mixed in). Check out his full plan in EMH’s Low Carb & Intermittent Fasting Diet My sister-in-law thought why not try it and after a little over a month, lost over 20 pounds.

I was floored. My brother’s weight loss was more substantial, but my sister-in-law I could relate to more. If it worked for her, maybe it could work for me. And they were ready to teach me how to do it.

I wanted to change my life, it looked like I’d found a method that worked, and I had a small but powerful tribe to motivate me. Time to start.

Starting my Weight Loss

I think the most important part of my success was giving myself a full year to commit to the program. I started January 2nd (I didn’t want to miss my New Years beans and rice for luck!) and decided I wouldn’t stop until December 31st.

Setting a full year did a few things for me.

  1. It gave me time to learn the program, make mistakes, recover from mistakes, and see results.
  2. It made it a little inescapable. Not that a year is forever, but it meant that when I fell off track I knew I had to get back in line because I had SO much time left.
  3. It made it my lifestyle. There’s plenty of stuff out there that says 90 days, or however many weeks to make a habit. But getting through birthdays, swimsuit season, holidays, vacations taught me how to LIVE with my new eating habits. There’s more to a new way of eating that knowing the rules and doing things on time. My new way of eating part of my normal life.

What seems hard today, will feel routine soon. It took me about a month or two before I was confident that I could maintain this lifestyle. But once I got the hang of it, it seriously felt effortless. Two quotes motivated me, “The time goes by anyway,” and, “What would happen this time if you didn’t stop?” I have no idea who said those so I’m sorry I can’t give credit but they were my mantra and kept me on track over the year.

“Time goes by anyway….”

“What would happen if you didn’t stop?”

Ok, I’d established my goal; change my eating for a year. So how did I actually start?

My brother gave me the rundown of how he and my sister-in-law ate:

  1. It started with a 2 week kickoff period that was super restrictive and jumped right into fasting. The kickoff focused on getting my body cleansed of burning carbs instead of fat, and did a great job getting me in the right head space for shifting my meals.
  2. The second part was the long haul program. Very low carb, with periods of more aggressive fasting.
  3. I haven’t hit the third stage of my weight loss yet plan, maintenance, but I’ll explain that at the end.

Here’s the Program Summary:

How I Lost 65 Pounds in 1 Year (Updated 75 Pounds)

For full details on this program, check out EMH’s Low Carb & Intermittent Fasting Diet

So What Does That all Mean?

The first two weeks were hard. The summary does a good job breaking down what I can’t eat. So let me tell you what I did eat. Lots of salad with a protein like chicken or steak, no croutons or fruit, and almost always oil and vinegar dressing. I used pesto as great way to add flavor to vegetables and meats that I was accustomed to adding dairy to flavor.

And while I definitely got hungry at first, it was actually a blessing to do the fasting because I didn’t have to figure anything out for breakfast. Breakfast was replaced with fasting when I only had black coffee, plain tea, or electrolyte water. But it was a great motivational time. I knew if I could get through the first two weeks, I could do the rest no problem.

Second Stage – The Long Haul of My Weight Loss

And that was definitely the case. In the second stage, the world opens up to all kinds of foods and options. Adding dairy back in means you’ll have all kinds of tasty meal and snack options. Having berries with whip cream feels like an absolute indulgence after the first two weeks. I found delicious things to replace pasta, rice, potatoes and other carby no-nos. I started to get the hang of creating meals that didn’t rely on carbs.

It took me a few weeks before I was brave enough to try a 24 hour fast. But it’s not as scary as it sounds. When I explained the 8:16 fast to people I told them I was basically just skipping breakfast. Since I ate 8 hours out of the day and fasted 16, I was eating lunch at 12 and finishing dinner before 8. No big deal, really. So my first 24 hour fast was just dinner to dinner. I was used to skipping breakfast so I just added skipping lunch one day a week.

I swear, once you do it, you’ll never be scared of it again. Just make sure you STAY BUSY. It makes all the difference. 24 hour fasts were the best way to recover from a holiday/birthday/vacation indulgence or to kick start a stall in weight loss. It quickly became my go-to get back on track solution.

How I Lost 65 Pounds in 1 Year (Updated 75 Pounds)
I made this strawberry champagne cake for New Years in December of 2019. Allowing myself to have special days, kept me on track over the weeks and months.

The biggest thing missing from the summary was that my weight loss story includes enjoying birthdays, vacations, and special occasions without shame. A day or two of enjoying a special time was nothing to beat myself up over and never seriously derailed my progress. I knew that if the program was really going to be my new lifestyle, it had to be part of my life. So the day after birthday cake or pasta, I’d tell myself, “That was tasty treat, back to normal now.” And back to normal I’d go.

Hating yourself will never lead to loving yourself!

Be kind. Be forgiving. Stay focused.

That’s the “rules” of the program. But it took more than rules to make me a success story. I learned some great tips and tricks along the way. And a few fantastic recipes.

Motivation Bank

For me, it was super motivating to see other people’s before and after pictures. I started a Pinterest board and I followed Instagram groups for low carb, keto, and IF. It was helpful for me to see how much people changed over time. And to see that long-term dedication lead to more substantial changes.

Figure out what motivates you and make sure you remind yourself of it. Not just when you’re down, but when you’re feeling success as well.

Track Progress

I highly recommend taking pictures. Ok, so I don’t mean you should take risqué pictures (you can if you want, I don’t know your life😉) But something that helps you see your progress over time. I’ll be honest, I never took a real “before” picture and I wish I had. Even if you don’t share the pictures, they’ll help you see how far you’ve come when you’re having difficult days. And again, when you’re celebrating your success as well. After I hit my year mark, I was excited to share my weight loss story through pictures. But it took a long time before I felt that way.

How I Lost 65 Pounds in 1 Year (Updated 75 Pounds)
I posted this on my 1 year anniversary to celebrate my weight loss. I’m glad I took pictures along the way but I wish I had a better “before” picture.

If pictures just aren’t your thing, you could do other activities to chart your progress. Some people use string to track measurements once a week or month to show themselves what’s been accomplished. Comparing clothes as you changes sizes is also a popular way to track progress. But those milestones are going to be spread out, so make sure you have something you can rely on regularly.

You can also track your weight with the good old scale. Be wary, sometimes change doesn’t always show on the scale, especially if you’re also including fitness in your plan and building muscle. And while your body may change quickly, the scale will feel SLOW. 65 75 pounds was a lot to lose in a year but most weeks I would lose about a pound. That breaks down to ounces a day. Some weeks (like Thanksgiving) I gained weight back. I’d prepared myself for things like that, but it doesn’t mean it makes the scale easy to look at. Just be kind, and very patient, with yourself.

Get Your Kitchen Fit

This one was tough for me. I wanted to remove all the carb and sugar trap foods from my house but my son and husband weren’t on the program with me. So I could only remove bad foods I loved (Twizzlers and Cheez-its) from the house and had to show restraint with things we all loved (Doritos, pasta, ice cream). All the pantry items I couldn’t have I put into one corner of the pantry and isolate all the fridge and freezer items cold, dark corners of the refrigerator. I highly recommend it.

I made sure I had easy go-to items always on hand. Snacky things like nuts, cheese, and seltzers. Then for meals, heavy cream, cream cheese, cauliflower rice, and eggs. I learned super-fast that going out to eat was always going to be trickier for me than eating at home. So my success would depend on always having items for easy, reliably good meals, ready to cook.

And while you’ll be tempted to fill your kitchen with “Keto” and “Low Carb” processed boxed goods you see everywhere, I’d urge you to read ingredients, scour the nutritional panel, and be generally very wary of the fake junk food. You’re looking to change your diet, not replace it with a different, equally junk filled, diet.

Have Go-To Meals

Learn a few solid meals and get good at them. For me, taco night was always easy because I found pretty decent low carb tortillas or just had a taco salad. I also learned a really easy turnip and chorizo soup that was fast and delicious. Keeping salad mix and cauliflower mash always stocked also meant that I could throw a meal together with just about anything if I had to.

How I Lost 65 Pounds in 1 Year (Updated 75 Pounds)
I learned how to make chicken liver pate and it became one of my favorite grab and go meals, especially with hard boiled eggs and almond flour crackers (also homemade!)

I highly recommend keeping a journal of your favorite go-to meals so you always have an inspiration source when you need it. Don’t let being tired or bored lead to poor eating. I took pictures of my favorite food and save them for when I needed ideas. It worked well for me and I also got to share those meals with my tribe even when they weren’t at the table. Pictures always seem to work better than words to motivate me!

I also always kept an emergency meal as backup. Sometimes you’re going to try a recipe and it will be a disaster. It happens. That’s life. But don’t let a recipe fail turn into an eating fail. I kept a keto pizza in my freezer so that if something bombed I could still eat a decent meal in about 25 minutes. Find something that you can throw together quickly to salvage a meal. This is especially crucial as you’re learning how to do IF and doing longer fasts. Hunger leads to poor choices so make good choices before you need them!

 Stay Busy

This is especially true for Intermittent Fasting. In the mornings, I always made sure I had a plan for had to spend my time. The weekends were especially tough. Again, boredom leads to poor choices. Get outside, get a hobby, stay busy. If mindless eating in front of the TV is a weak point for you, take up knitting or play a video game- something to keep your hands busy. Better yet, take your dog for a walk or go for a run. Make the most out of your fast by enjoying the time you don’t waste eating while getting your body to a place you love. (If you’re looking for inspiration for ways to stay more active, check out Active.com. Start your $0.99 trial with ACTIVE Advantage today!)

I knew that I was always going to be tempted to get a bowl of ice cream or something sweet after dinner. So I always had a cup of hot tea with heavy cream at night. Being hot, it takes a while to drink, and the heavy cream makes it decadent enough that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on dessert. It works for me, find what works for you. If you’re not a fan of tea, I also LOVE collagen hot chocolate.

How I Lost 65 Pounds in 1 Year (Updated 75 Pounds)
Hot tea every night kept me from sugary desserts

Have a Tribe

And find your tribe. Find people who’ll share recipes, celebrate your success, and most important, hold you to account. It makes this process SO much more fun and easier to keep. Part of my tribe was 2 states away. But we sent pictures of our food and shared our progress frequently. And it helped. There’s already a tribe of people out there who already know my weight loss story because they were part of it. You probably didn’t gain the weight alone. Don’t punish yourself by making your journey isolating.

Conclusion to my weight loss story 

I could go on and on about the past year. I feel like a new person and much more myself. Now I look back at pictures and wish I’d started years ago. I still have weight left to lose but now it feels much less intimidating and much more rewarding. I know I’ve earned it and owned it.

Being down 65 75 pounds seems unreal. Fitting into size small and size 6 seems unreal. Being 157 pounds for the first time in YEARS seems unreal. But it is real. It happened. I did it. It’s doable.

My weight loss story isn’t over yet. Eventually I’ll shift into a maintenance phase. When I reach my goal weight, I’ll likely add breakfast back into my regular schedule, at least a few days a week. And I’ll add back some additional healthy carbs into one meal a day. Things like a small serving of sweet potatoes or beets in my salad.

And I’ll keep celebrating birthday’s with real cake and thanksgiving with real dressing. I don’t have to live my life saying no to wonderful things. I just want to keep special days special and my everyday strong.

Thank you for letting me share my weight loss story. I’ll be sharing more about how I eat, when I eat, and recipes on Eat.Move.Hack over the next few months. I hope you find this and future posts helpful. There were so many things I read that helped me along the way. I’m excited to give back!

Want to know more?

If you liked my weight loss story and want to learn more about how I lost my weight, check out these other EAT MOVE HACK articles!

  1. EMH’s Low Carb & Intermittent Fasting Diet
  2. My Favorite Amazon Finds for a Low-Carb Kitchen!
  3. Where to Start with Intermittent Fasting 
  4. Intermittent Fasting 2.0
  5. Intermittent Fasting and Caffeine

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About the author

Abby Dawson

Abby Dawson

After losing 65 pounds in 2019 I'm a passionate believer in Intermittent Fasting and Low Carb eating. I know my success was only possible because many people shared why and what worked and were willing to share their transformation stories. I want to give back and help others who face the same challenges I did. Thanks for reading!

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