How running and the keto diet helped one woman lose nearly 200 pounds: 'If I can do it, you can do it'

Yahoo Lifestyle

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

Emily Golding is 32, 5’4”, and currently weighs 145 pounds. In 2016, after the birth of her son, she was inspired to lose weight for her long-term health. This is her weight-loss story.

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The turning point

Honestly, I wasn’t a fat kid, I just steadily gained weight as I got older. I don’t ever remember it being an “issue.” Somehow I was lucky and was never teased or left out because of my weight, and I was always pretty confident. As I got older, I would try to lose weight in all the “traditional” ways (diet and exercise) and I would lose some, but then it would come back. I never lost more than 10 pounds or so. I never really tracked it because honestly my weight didn’t bother me. I never felt “fat.” It’s hard to describe, but that’s the best way I can say it. The most weight I ever lost was in 2010 when I did the “B12 Diet,” where I basically followed the diet of someone getting B12 injections without actually getting the injections. I just took a lot of supplements. I lost about 60 pounds that way but managed to put it back on fairly quickly. I got down to 250 pounds, and that was my “skinny.” After I gained it back, I would look at the picture of me at 250 and say, “Oh man, I need to get back there.”

I’ve always had milestones I was “going to lose weight by” — my high school graduation, starting college, getting married, my first anniversary — but it just never happened. I wasn’t unhappy, I didn’t feel bad, I wasn’t on any medications due to my weight, and I wasn’t having any health problems. I just didn’t have the motivation. Then in 2015, when I was over 300 pounds, I started running and completed the Couch to 5K program. I felt great! It was at that point, after years of trying, that I got pregnant. I had lost a little weight, and it was either that or the fertility medicine, or both, but we were very cautiously excited. I was put on modified bed rest, so weight loss obviously was put on the back burner. Unfortunately, we miscarried at 15 weeks, and we were heartbroken. After a few months of trying to get back into the swing of things, I got pregnant again. We were again cautiously optimistic, and I was put on modified bed rest again. Luckily, nine months later, I gave birth to a perfect 9 pound 10 ounce baby boy! At the hospital I weighed 325 pounds. This was not at all a focus for me, but I knew that was my highest recorded weight.

I am the picture taker in my house. When I say I have over 150,000 photos on my phone, this is not an exaggeration. I am often frustrated with my phone’s inability to handle the amount of photos I have. I love capturing memories, but that also usually means that I’m behind the lens and behind the scene.  When Charlie, my son, was about 9 months old, we went to the Botanical Gardens and took our Canon, and my husband Christopher and I took a picture of each other with Charlie. When we got home and looked at them, I was sad. I didn’t hate the photos, I didn’t delete them, but I knew that I needed to be around as long as I could to take care of this perfect baby boy. I knew that even though I didn’t have health problems at that particular moment, I would most likely have them in the future. I knew I couldn’t control everything, but I had to try and control the things I had control over, and one of those things was my weight.

Emily Golding with her husband, before and after their weight loss. (Photo courtesy of Emily Golding)
Emily Golding with her husband, before and after their weight loss. (Photo courtesy of Emily Golding)

The changes

One day my husband came home and talked to me about the keto diet. It sounded like another fad diet, but he was pretty sure he wanted to try it. He did some more research and convinced me that we should both try it, and on Aug. 15, 2016, we started “eating keto.” This can mean different things to different people, but for us it meant staying under 20 net carbs (carbs – fiber = net carbs) and staying within our calories. For me, this calorie count was 1300 because that’s where I felt comfortable and satisfied and not at all hungry. We must have gotten it right this time because neither of us really experienced keto flu, and the pounds quickly started to “melt” away. We didn’t really incorporate any exercise until a few months in, and that’s when I got back into my running.

The whole thing happened so fast. The weight was coming off so fast I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. I was motivated by the results and just wanted to do more and be more active to keep my progress moving.

We are coming up on our second year of keto, and it is a lifestyle for me now. I have never knowingly gone over my 20 net carbs (I track my food, but obviously there is some guessing involved when you don’t have access to labels). I have stayed keto for birthdays, Christmas, everything in the past two years, and at first it was a struggle, but now it doesn’t faze me. This is just who I am now.

I think my mindset really helped me stay focused. I made sure to be careful with my language. I never referred to it as the “keto diet” because this was a lifestyle change, not a diet. I referred to things as “things I don’t eat” versus “things I can’t eat,” and I told myself I deserve not to have a cheat day because it’s never worth it and it’s only bringing me backward.

A lot of people say things like, “Nothing wrong with cheating!” or “Enjoy the day” and “You only live once,” and if that is how you view it, there is nothing wrong with that. That being said, I truly believe my determination not to have a cheat day got me to where I am. Not just with the weight loss but not being tempted by carbs and truly being able to enjoy a situation without indulging in a cupcake. I just know I don’t need it, and somehow I have gotten to a point where I don’t want it. Don’t get me wrong, I have a sweet tooth; I’m just lucky enough to have a hubby that knows his way around the keto kitchen!

A few months into the Keto diet, Emily reignited an old passion for running. (Photo courtesy of Emily Golding)
A few months into the Keto diet, Emily reignited an old passion for running. (Photo courtesy of Emily Golding)

The after

People always assume that I must feel a lot better, and honestly, no. I don’t feel better, and I am not proud of myself. I don’t like saying that because I think a lot of people assume that I have low self-esteem or I don’t like myself, but that’s not the case. I didn’t feel bad before. My weight didn’t bother me. I didn’t “feel fat” then, so I don’t feel fat now. I don’t get a lot of people who share this feeling with me. I don’t think it’s normal, but I’m just being honest. I tell people all the time that if I didn’t have a mirror and my pant size hadn’t gone from a tight 28 to an 8 or 10, I wouldn’t even know I’d lost weight.

There are things I miss about being overweight. I miss knowing which two stores I can shop in to find things. Now I have overwhelming options and as a nonshopper, it’s an adjustment. I feel self-conscious about my flabby arms and, as someone who has never regularly felt self-conscious, this is a new and terrible feeling. I am not sure why I wasn’t self-conscious when I was heavier. Maybe we become more critical of ourselves, or maybe I am just adjusting to my body literally being half the size it’s been my whole adult life.

All that being said, I wouldn’t change what I have done. I don’t plan to stray from this keto lifestyle because it works for me. My goal was to be healthier, to control my weight so I could hopefully avoid weight-related health issues, and that’s what I have accomplished.

I would say that my favorite outcome is the increased activity in our lives and how it’s reflected in Charlie. We have done things we never would have done before, like kayaking. Now my son will get a mat out and do Pilates with his daddy and say, “I do exercises, daddy!” and when we put on our sneakers, he’ll say, “I go for a run!” I absolutely love seeing him making active choices and it being just “the norm” for him to be active with his mom and dad. This outcome is priceless and will hopefully lead to a healthy and active lifestyle for all of us.

“We have done things we never would have done before.” (Photo courtesy of Emily Golding)
“We have done things we never would have done before.” (Photo courtesy of Emily Golding)

The maintenance

I still practice keto and running. I mix in some intermittent fasting here and there, but mostly I am a creature of habit, with a protein bar for breakfast, egg salad for lunch, and something delicious for dinner like meat and a veggie, a casserole, or one of the many keto recipes we’ve found online.

In March, I ran my first half marathon. I’ve already run three 5Ks this year, and I’m signed up for two more half marathons at the end of the year, as well as my first marathon next March. As I crossed the finish line for my first half marathon, I said to myself, “I could keep going,“ so I signed up for the marathon before I came to my senses! I run a few times a week, and I did a strength-training program called StrongLifts for a few months with my husband, and it worked, but I got bored with it. He still does it, and I definitely need to incorporate some weight training; I am just not sure what I want to do yet.

I have an Apple Watch, and it keeps track of your “Move points,” “active minutes,” and “stands” per hour. It only tracks the streak for Move, but I have over a 580-day streak for closing my rings on all three items. I make sure that I am active for at least 30 minutes a day (even if it’s just walking), standing at least once an hour for 12 hours, and meeting my Move goal. This watch is definitely a luxury item, but it holds me accountable. I also walk laps on my lunch breaks. It’s nothing fast-paced, but it keeps me moving and keeps my steps up. I recently started running at the park during my lunch breaks. I am enjoying that a lot because once I get home, I just want to spend time with Charlie before he goes to bed. I am not sure I am done losing yet, but I am not sure what maintenance will look like for me, except that it will be keto and running.

The things that keep me motivated are my son, my husband, and my health. I want to do what I can to increase my chances of being around with them as long as possible. I couldn’t have done this without my husband. He works full time but still manages to get home, get Charlie ready for bed, and cook us delicious dinners. He has lost over 100 pounds himself, and I am so proud of him and inspired by him every day. I appreciate all the things he does for our family, and I am excited about all the new adventures we have ahead of us.

Photos courtesy of Emily Golding
Photos courtesy of Emily Golding

The struggles

I struggle with feeling proud of myself and seeing what I have done. I have an Instagram dedicated to my health and fitness (@emrunsonketo) and many people have said they are inspired by me, and it’s so flattering, but I don’t completely understand. To me, keto just clicked, and I love running. It’s hard for me to accept compliments for something that I don’t feel like I worked very hard for. I know that for the people who haven’t found what works for them yet, that sounds awful. But it’s not that I am belittling weight loss; I have been trying and failing my whole adult life. It’s just that once I found keto, it just happened for me.

Advice

I get asked about advice a lot. Honestly, you have to find what works for you. Keto is my key, but it might not be for you. Other advice I give people: Take pictures now (even if you hate them); take them along the way; take measurements; have “goal outfits” that you want to fit into; don’t get obsessed with the number on the scale (your body is changing even when your number isn’t).

Your health is No. 1, so no matter what path you choose, make sure it’s a healthy one. Start small and take it one day at a time. Add in new habits after you’ve established your basic ones. Go easy on yourself (but not too easy!); forgive yourself; ask for help; find a partner to do things with; be active; don’t compare yourself to others; be happy; and most importantly (and the thing I struggle with most) — believe in yourself.

I was the person reading this two years ago, thinking, “Wow I want to do that, but I can’t,” and somehow, I found my motivation, my determination, and I just started and didn’t stop. I am not perfect, I am not special, I just found what worked for me and kept my eyes on my “why.” Don’t give up. As clichéd as it is: If I can do it, you can do it.

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.

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