Post #3: Working Out Didn’t Kill My Sweet Tooth Either

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Working Out Didn't Kill My Sweet Tooth

The Low Carb Years

Quick recap:  In 2004, my doctor told me to Lose 100 pounds.  To do that, he strongly suggested a very low-carb diet and gave me a pamphlet detailing which foods to eat and which ones to avoid. I immediately began eating meats, eggs, low-carb vegetables, nuts, and cheeses, while avoiding breads, cereals, sweets, fruits, potatoes, and, basically, anything else that I had previously considered even slightly tasty.

I had been a total sugar and carb addict my whole life, which meant that I had to endure incredibly tough withdrawal symptoms.


From the time of that first completely traumatizing doctor’s visit, I was a dead-serious low-carber. My diet mostly consisted of rotisserie chicken, egg whites, crouton-less salads, bun-less chicken sandwiches, hot dog weenies, turkey bacon, and green beans.  And truckloads of anything with the words “Sugar Free” on it.  (My favorite was yellow and orange sugar-free Jello, and I often ate several boxes per day.  Yes, several BOXES.  I assume that my intestines are still slightly tie-dyed.)

Around 2003. Arguably the worst “before” picture in the history of mankind.


And after one year on a very strict low-carb diet, I lost about 80 pounds. EIGHTY POUNDS.  Have you ever bought a really large bag of dog food and struggled to get it into your shopping cart? Well, that’s about 40 pounds.  Now imagine that you’ve spent your whole adult life carrying around two of those suckers, and you finally get to set them down.  I was giddy!  Without all that extra weight, I felt energized and on top of the world!


Not only did I lose weight and gain energy, but I also felt less anxiety without carbs in my diet.  I was less emotional and felt far more calm. Like Bob Ross painting trees on PBS calm, actually. I was no longer self-conscious about my size, and I was able to enjoy being around people without the social anxiety that had always plagued me.  Also, I no longer had the urge to punch camera-wielding people square in the jaw.  It was a win for everyone!


Turning into a Gym Rat

I was thrilled with my progress, but honestly, I wanted to lose even more.  Sugar is addictive, but as it turns out, so is weight loss.  I found myself incredibly caught up in the idea that thinner was better.  I had become obsessed with losing more and more weight, and I based my day’s mood on the number that I saw on the scale each morning.  That was my private and shallow definition of a good day: to be smaller than I was the day before.


When my low-carb diet wasn’t getting me thin enough, fast enough, I became a workout FIEND. I was a beast. A gym rat.  I took step classes, started running, did yoga, killed it on the elliptical, and…smelled like a sweaty sock.  Seven days a week. For four years straight. I ate a low-carb diet and worked my rear off, and that was my life.


During that time, I even became certified to teach group fitness classes and was teaching several kickboxing, yoga, and cardio classes per week. I mean, why pay to workout when you could be getting paid, right?)


And, AHHHhh, it was working!!  I was definitely losing more weight.  In my first five years on a very low-carb diet, I went from 262 pounds to 140 pounds. (That’s a loss of 122 pounds for the mathematically challenged.)


I was thin for the first time in my life!  It was amazing, and I was loving every minute of it!


Well, most every minute.


The truth is, I was still spending a ridiculous amount of time just finding ways to get a sweet taste and satisfy my lingering sweet tooth.  I was still jello-binging and drinking several diet sodas per day.  I was free from actual sugar and carbs, but I wasn’t free from my addiction to the sweet tastes themselves.


And while following this low-carb, highly rigorous lifestyle, I wasn’t just hungry.  I actually felt like I was constantly starving to death. I had to keep myself quite hungry in order to continue losing weight while eating a low-carb diet. I was working SO hard that I often felt like I was hanging on by a thread.


I loved my new waist size, but I couldn’t imagine keeping up this hungry, Splenda-crazed, sweaty, and exhausting life forever.


Then, How?

So yes, a low-carb diet brought me to a great place in regards to my weight, but there was definitely still room for improvement.  Low-carb LOOKED good on me, but FELT pretty rough.


And when my weight loss would plateau or slow, I just did harder workouts and ate even less.  I was living a life of self-torture. I was vain enough, though, that size 4 pants made it almost worth it.  Almost.


But then, one day while I was sitting at my computer, shoving my face full of sugar-free crap and chugging diet Dr. Peppers while smelling like a gym bag, I stumbled across a website called Zeroing in on Health.  The site no longer exists, but it completely rocked my world to its sweaty little core. It was a forum for people who eat a high-fat and zero-carb diet.  I didn’t even know that that was a thing!  Their drop-down menu covered topics like, “Why You Still Crave Sweets,” “Why Exercise Isn’t Working,” and “The Benefits of a Zero-Carb Diet.”


This website would kick off the second part of my weight loss journey and would lead me to be free from my addiction to sweets, my obsession with weight-loss, my insane workout routine, and even the little pamphlet that my doctor had given me five years prior.  I had only thought low-carb was the key.  I had NO idea just how good life was about to become.


Next: The journey from low-carb to ZERO carb. Or, “How Do They Poop??”




13 Responses

  1. Dianne

    Kelly, you have done an amazing job! Having known you since your first breath, I can attest to the fact that even though you have always had a weight problem, wore a large wedding dress, as you said, and were sad about the way you looked, you are & always have been beautiful to me! You are beautiful inside and out, because through whatever life has thrown at you, which at times was almost unbearable ,I know, you leaned on Christ, the one who made you beautiful from the inside. Your weight loss is astounding-your Christ-like heart is the amazing thing!

  2. Liesl

    Thank you! I have just found your blog and I’m laughing and loving it. Now on to the next post!

  3. Natasha

    Kelly!!!!! First of all a huge WOW and what a great post. You truly are my idol now lol. So many women and men out there can relate to your story and you are helping so many people right now. I would love to learn more about this lifestyle as I struggle year in and out. This is new to me so not sure what is permitted with your meat like butter for cooking etc. Thanks for sharing your story. Can’t wait to learn more.

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  5. Francesca

    I stumbled on your blog a few days ago. I think it’s very well-written and want to thank you for sharing it. Yet, one lingering question has been on my mind: you said that years ago your physician introduced you to a low-carb way of eating with the pamphlet, etc. Then, you lost weight. But, after a time, you found yourself overly reliant on “frankenfoods,” particularly those that have artificial sweeteners and felt you were a slave to the gym. Then, you found the way of eating, zero carb, that you are practicing now and that was liberating. It’s the working out part here that confuses me. My question is this:

    Don’t most LCHF plans, such as Atkins, say that exercise is encouraged, not optional? If you were eating low-carb and, presumably were in maintenance, wouldn’t the weight just stay off without heavy exercise? You make it sound as if hours in the gym were essential to keeping the weight off, even though you were eating according to the low-carb plan that helped you to lose the weight.

    I do not mean to be accusatory-sounding. I only ask because I have recently started a LCHF plan, but not zero carb and heavy on the veggies. The entire reason I started it is because I don’t want to be a slave to exercise as I tend to be when on a reducing plan. I am busy and do not have time to exercise more than an hour/day. I am moderately active and enjoy working out when I have time (it makes me feel great!), but, again, I do not want to spend so much time doing exercise nor — most importantly — feeling guilty when I do not! So, as I embark on this WOE, I am just wondering if, when I do reach my goal weight, if I, too, am going to have to be running to the gym everyday, as you say you were, to keep it off. If so, then perhaps I had better get used to that fact now (or go all-meat….)! Thanks for any clarification!

    • jamesdhogan

      Kel’s husband James here. Frankenfoods had artificial sweeteners, which in turn cause you to feel hungrier than you actually are, which in turn can easily lead to over-eating. Hence the exercise to make sure the pounds stayed off! Since she went zero-carb, that hasn’t been an issue. That said, always consult closely with your doctor to ensure you’re doing what’s best for you. This blog should never substitute for professional medical advice.

  6. Angela Swenson

    Please scan in both sides of that list that you doctor gave you on “carbs not to eat” and “foods okay to eat” and post it please. I need to give my dad that list. I think it will save his life.

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