Natasha: "I tried the keto diet plan, then WW. Here's what actually worked."
Natasha lost 14kg since joining WW in October 2018
When my partner proposed to me in 2017, I hated the way I looked in my engagement photos: I’d gained 9kg during a year of battling health issues including chronic strep throat, a tonsillectomy, gallbladder removal, endometriosis, and mould exposure, and another 9kg after easing off the medications that had made it difficult for me to digest food.
I desperately wanted to lose the extra weight before I walked down the aisle. I didn’t recognise the person I had become, and I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror.
Trying a restrictive diet
Around January 2018, I heard my work manager rave about the keto diet, which involves eating a high fat, low-carb, and moderate protein diet. After committing to eliminate pasta, potatoes, grains, and fruit - my favorite! - I stocked up on fatty meats and butter.
To achieve “ketosis” - the state of burning body fat instead of carbohydrates for energy - I began to track my “macros” or macronutrients (grams of fat, carbohydrates, and protein) and test my urine for ketones, the sign you’re in ketosis. At first, it worked, except that I developed some of the diet’s common side effects: my breath began to smell sour, my mouth always felt dry and my urine had a strong, sweet smell.
There’s no doubt that my diet was odd: on days when I didn’t consume enough fat, I’d eat a “fat bomb” with ingredients like cream cheese and peanut butter. I slipped up once during a road trip because it was too hard to stick to my routine away from home - it’s not like you can always get a fatty steak and butter in your coffee at a service centre on the road.
After that, when I tried to get back on track, a series of debilitating symptoms kicked in. I felt so lethargic that I had trouble staying awake during the day - all I wanted to do was nap, but when I slept, I’d get hot sweats. While I didn’t miss a day of work, I hated the way I felt for two whole weeks.
After about eight months of following the keto diet, I started to obsess about getting into ketosis, peeing on a test strip every single time I went to the bathroom. When I didn't get the results I was hoping for, I'd question my every effort.
Although I knew I needed to allocate my calories with painstaking precision for the keto diet to work correctly, the test didn't say whether I’d eaten too much protein or too little fat. I felt lost; it was as if I was following a super strict diet for nothing. What’s more, my weight loss had stalled.
Cutting ties with keto
Around the same time, I decided to take another break from keto before a few summer trips with my fiancé. Without having to worry about whether I’d find the specific foods permitted on my diet, I stressed much less. It was fun to share meals and experiences without worrying about staying in ketosis.
Back at home, I had no desire to return to diet: it was way too hard. At the same time, some of my keto habits stuck, like adding butter to my morning coffee.
Over the course of a few months, I gained about 4.5kg back and started looking for another weight loss programme.
"I can see myself sticking with the WW programme for life"
Adopting a flexible approach
In the autumn of 2018, I joined WW with a friend who was already on the programme. I knew WW would be totally different from the eating approach I’d become accustomed to. That said, after a year of telling myself: “Don’t eat this, don’t eat that,” retraining my brain was difficult.
Although WW gives you the flexibility to eat whatever foods you’d like, every time I ate a sweet potato or piece of fruit, I felt residual guilt from keto. To complicate things, my fiancé fully embraced the flexibility of my new eating approach: he’d make us huge plates of pasta for dinner with chocolate chip cookies for dessert. It would take me every ounce of willpower to say “no,” so I’d have a few and instantly regret it.
As a result, during my first three months on the program, I gained and lost the same 2kg. But unlike my experience on the keto diet, which provided no resources to troubleshoot on my own, I talked to my WW Coach. She suggested tracking foods, using the blue dot challenge as a daily motivator and planning out meals ahead of time so I could leave room in my Points® Budget for foods like pizza.
After that Workshop, my fiancé agreed to stop baking every day, and we started going grocery shopping together using the WW app's barcode scanner to quickly assess a food’s Points® value. We mapped out our weekly meals, including dishes like chicken or grilled steak tacos.
DISCOVER: The WW app
I felt like I was in a groove - and then the holidays came. Travel plans prohibited me from attending a few of my weekly Workshops, and I expected the worst since going on holidays had been my downfall on the keto diet. This time, when I got home in the New Year, I’d lost 2.7kg - proof the program wasn’t just working, but flexible enough to work within the context of my lifestyle.
Coffee with butter and coconut oil
Half a bagel with a fried egg and black coffee with natural sweetener
Thick broccoli and cheddar soup made with heavy whipping cream and salad with lemon juice dressing
Salad with grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, peppers and light dressing, or tuna salad made with light mayo plus whole wheat crackers
A fatty steak with green vegetables like asparagus or sautéed spinach with onion and mushrooms—and butter on everything
Zucchini-lentil pasta with chicken and Alfredo sauce, or grilled fish with a baked sweet potato and vegetables like carrots, asparagus or broccoli
“Fat-bombs” containing full-fat cream cheese, butter, cocoa powder, and peanut butter
A protein shake, carrots and celery sticks dipped in ranch dressing made from plain, fat-free Greek-style yoghurt and spices
Results without restriction
While keto was a diet, my new approach to eating feels more like a lifestyle choice. Not only do I have tons of food options whether I’m at home, eating out, or travelling, but I have heaps of energy and love the way I look. I’ve lost 14kg so far, and I’m looking to lose about 5 more.
In retrospect, it’s become clear that my old keto diet wasn’t a sustainable solution for lifelong weight management. But WW? I can see myself sticking with the programme for life. Having recently discovered new WW app features like Connect, the members-only social network I lean on for support, motivation, and recipe ideas, the programme still feels fresh.
My fiancé and I have decided that we’re going to elope, so whenever we feel the urge to get married, we will! The best part: I know I’ll look and feel my best whenever we say, “I do”.
*People following the WW weight-loss programme can expect to lose 1-2lb per week.