How one woman overcame her eating disorder to lose 106 lbs. the healthy way

Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Kellie Foster, 25, is 5-foot-10 and weighs 140 pounds. In 2015, after being overweight most of her life and developing unhealthy eating habits from dieting, she finally found a healthier lifestyle that worked for her. This is her weight-loss story.

The turning point

I was overweight for most of my life. I was probably 8 or 9 years old when I remember starting to feel self-conscious about my body. I went on my first diet (Weight Watchers) when I was just 12. I yo-yo dieted throughout my teenage years but never had any long-term success.

For most of high school I was in the 175-195-pound range — definitely overweight, but not my biggest. When I started my first year at McGill University, I ate absolutely anything and everything I wanted, and the “freshman 15” turned into a “freshman 40” for me. When I went home for Christmas, a turning point for me was seeing family photos we took that year. I was devastated over how I looked in them, and I told myself it was time for a change. It was then that I felt my mindset switch. I weighed myself on the day before heading back to university and could not believe that the scale said 240 pounds.

I ended up on a very low-fat, low-carb, and low-calorie diet. I did cardio five or six times per week and was netting somewhere around 700-800 calories per day. At my height and weight, the pounds very quickly fell off. I lost 65 pounds in the span of about four months, which felt great. But as I’m sure you can imagine, I was starving and unhealthy, and this was the beginning of a bad time for me.

Obviously this could go on for only so long, and when summer came, I started incorporating cheat meals and eventually cheat days. After those, I would increase the restriction to make up for them. Eventually I found myself in a cycle of binge eating and deprivation.

The binges continued, and the guilt and shame became more and more overwhelming each time. Eventually, I realized I needed help and was admitted to the eating disorders program at my university, where I was seen regularly by a psychiatrist, nurse, and dietitian. The program encouraged intuitive eating, and although I stopped binge eating and graduated from the program, I was slowly beginning to put weight back on. I gained back everything I had lost.

Quickly thereafter, I felt the mindset switch once again and was ready to commit to taking control of my health. Since I had no success with approaching weight loss from a dieting perspective, I decided to tackle it from a fitness perspective instead, and I joined a CrossFit gym. I was going to lose weight, but I was going to be healthy about it this time.

Photos: Courtesy of Kellie Foster
Photos: Courtesy of Kellie Foster

The changes

I started off going to the gym three times per week and making an intention of eating healthier. My coach had me eating whole foods in moderation. Working out really empowered me, and I was supported by an incredible community of people at the gym. I lost about 20 pounds in a couple of months and felt fantastic. However, my weight loss began to stall, and I was frustrated and wanted to see results. My coach encouraged me to try a ketogenic diet. I had considered it before but found the thought of eliminating all carbs from my diet difficult. I decided to try it for 30 days and found that I felt good doing it. Adding in the high-fat aspect of keto was a game changer for me. Who feels restricted eating bacon?

Eventually I tried intermittent fasting along with the keto diet, and it worked well for me. A typical day of eating for me in this ideal weight-loss phase would be something like this: coffee with a tiny splash of light cream in the morning, lunch around noon, and dinner around 7:30pm. My lunches and dinners would be big servings of protein (my favorites are chicken wings, steak, pork tenderloin, and ground turkey) and even bigger sides of keto-friendly veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, salads) with fats added to meet my macro goals (cheese, butter, oils, etc.).

I continued at CrossFit and doing keto, eventually moving up to six CrossFit workouts per week, and I continued to thrive and succeed with my weight-loss goals. I had finally found a way to be healthy and happy. In September 2016, I went back to school for my final year and began lifting weights on my own at the school gym and fell in love with it. I cried tears of joy when, in December of that year, I stepped on the scale and saw my ultimate goal weight: 140 pounds.

While I was making all of these changes, I felt absolutely incredible. Keto offers so many benefits aside from weight loss: better mental clarity, more consistent levels of energy (no after-lunch carb crash!), and most importantly for me, no urges to binge. I couldn’t believe I had finally found a way to take control of my health that didn’t feel restrictive — I knew from a few months in that keto would be something I would continue doing forever.

My motivation never faltered, because I felt so healthy and happy. After a lifetime of failure, I had found what worked for me, and I knew it was something I never wanted to give up. In addition, I was encouraged and supported by so many people throughout my journey — my CrossFit family, my actual family, my friends, the Instagram community — that I was never alone in any challenge I faced.

Photo: Courtesy of Kellie Foster
Photo: Courtesy of Kellie Foster

The after

After a lifetime of hating my body, I had an extremely difficult time coming to terms with the new one I had worked so hard to get. What I found was that even at my ultimate goal weight, I still wasn’t happy with what I saw in the mirror. I would pick myself apart and had no self-confidence. Eventually I realized that my mindset was the problem.

Self-love is a tough journey but so worthwhile. I started focusing on being more positive in all aspects of my life, and although it was a slow process, I eventually reached the place I’m in now where I am truly able to love and appreciate not only myself and my body, but everything that life has to offer. Every day I stand in front of the mirror, look at myself, and give myself genuine compliments. The second important thing is that I have a happy journal that I write in every night where I answer the following three questions: 1. What made you happy today? 2. What did you accomplish today? And 3. What are you grateful for today? Even after a seemingly horrible day, taking the time to reflect on these three questions allows me to find some light in the darkness, and appreciate each day. These things seemed really cheesy and uncomfortable to me when I started, but now I cannot imagine my life without them. Looking back on myself five years ago, I was an extremely cynical, pessimistic, and unhappy person who didn’t believe she was capable of much. Now I have a lot of days where I’m actually overwhelmed by how truly happy I am. I’m now the kind of person that people refer to as “positive,” which really warms my heart.

I think I was surprised by how seemingly easy the process was. Of course there were challenges, but when I look back at my keto weight-loss journey, it really wasn’t extremely difficult. I think that demonstrates the importance of finding the healthy lifestyle choice that’s right for you.

Photo: Courtesy of Kellie Foster
Photo: Courtesy of Kellie Foster

The maintenance

These days I still eat keto; I just eat more calories than I did before to maintain my weight. I also don’t fast anymore because I don’t need the same amount of appetite suppression that I did when I was losing weight.

Right now I’m training six days per week — four days are lifting and two days are running. Weightlifting has completely changed my life, and I’m using it to recomposition my body.

The most important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is continuing to set new goals for yourself. Complacency is the enemy of long-term success, so always having a goal to work toward is key for maintenance.

The struggles

At the end of last year, I fell back into binge-eating tendencies after nearly two years of not even having an urge to binge. It really scared me, and I was worried that keto wasn’t going to be the long-term solution I had hoped and thought it was. I spent a lot of time reflecting on why this was happening, and I discovered that it was more situational than anything. I had just moved to a new city to start my career and was going through a lot of big changes in my life. These things overwhelmed me, and I turned to food for comfort.

The most helpful thing during that stretch was accountability — I shared the struggles on my Instagram and received so much love and support from the community. At the beginning of this year, I made a system for myself where I put a green sticker on a calendar I have hung up on my wall at the end of each day that passes without binging. There’s something really satisfying about this simple reward system, and it’s working for me! I frequently share my progress on my Instagram account, and it’s so helpful to have all of my friends there cheering me on. I’m happy to report that I have not binged so far in 2018, and I’m very confident that I’m not going to because my urges have almost completely disappeared again. I had a slip and I’ve recovered.

Photo: Courtesy of Kellie Foster
Photo: Courtesy of Kellie Foster

Advice

Take the time to find your sustainable solution. It’s so tempting to do whatever it takes to see results right now, but think about your long-term plan because the mission doesn’t end when you hit your ultimate goal weight. Being healthy is a lifelong journey, so try different things until you find what allows you to be healthy and happy. For me, that was keto. For you, it could be something else. Regardless of what it is, be patient and be kind to yourself as you navigate through the chaos of all the options out there. There was a point in my life when I truly believed that I would never be in the place I am today, and because of that, I know that you can get here too with a little bit of hard work and dedication.

Follow Kellie’s Journey on her Instagram page and YouTube channel.

Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!

Weight-Loss Win is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

Have a weight-loss win to share? We want to hear it! Tell us at YStyleBeauty@yahoo.com.

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