It all started with a bet.
My friend and I were looking at some jeans, and I decided that I had to have a pair. (KISS jeans! How could I resist?) The sizing on the jeans ran 28, 30, and 32-inch waists though, and admittedly, it had been a while since I bought jeans with an exact waist measurement. So, I grabbed the 28 and went to try them on, thinking, “I’m a 28-inch waist, right? That sounds right.”
Apparently, I was no longer the size that I thought I was, because I couldn’t get those jeans on.
My friend giggled. “Need a bigger size?”
I tried on the 30-inch waist. Tight. Uncomfortably tight. Unless I planned on never sitting down, these were not the jeans for me.
My friend laughed more. “What happened?”
I went for the 32s.
Sigh. Finally, I’d found a pair that fit.
But when did I become a 32?
Now, my friend was really laughing, and he said the words that suddenly started my unexpected weight loss journey:
“I bet I can fit into those 32 jeans before you’re back to a 28-inch waist.”
It was on.
You see, my friend (male) was somewhere between a 36 and 38″ waist on the day we made the bet. (Did I mention these were really skinny jeans?) I felt pretty confident that I could hold up my end of this bet!
We quickly set a start date, agreeing to start our weight loss journey on August 1st and compare results in three months on November 1st. Further sealing the deal, I got the smaller-sized jeans for myself as an incentive to do this.
This friend of mine had previously lost more than 60 pounds on the Atkins diet by cutting out carbs, and so I knew that he would fiercely stick to this new round of dieting too, especially with any kind of bet on the table. We approached this pretty competitively, but not so much that he withheld all of his Atkins and low-carb tips from me to help me get started.
Then, a funny thing happened. My husband decided to join in and go low-carb with us. My martial arts instructor also started the same week we did.
Three months have passed, and every one of us has lost at least 25 pounds.
My husband weighs under 200 pounds for the first time in our marriage. My martial arts instructor has had to significantly tighten his black belt. And, my friend who initiated the bet with me has lost more than 30 pounds (although he’s not yet ready to wear the 32s!)
Now, I know there is no magic bullet for weight loss. I didn’t really think I needed to lose weight, but weight can be a funny thing. It creeps up on you. All of the clothes I was wearing at my previous weight still fit at my lower, current weight. I’ve never been the kind of person who regularly weighs myself either, because I’m pretty physically active and have always been happy with how I look.
The day we started the bet, I stepped on the scale and saw a 150 staring back up at me.
Just as I wasn’t sure how I’d arrived at a 32-inch waist, I also wasn’t sure how I arrived at 150 pounds. It seemed like such a large number, especially when I considered that at my heaviest, full-term pregnant with my second son, I weighed 155.
I was been blessed with a high metabolism for most of my adult life. As many of you know, I started most of my mornings with a Coca-Cola in hand, and I never refrained from indulging in cookies, candy, and other deliciousness, because those things never seemed to stay with me. Another day, another Coke and cookie. Candy whenever I wanted some. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
My mom warned me that after age 40, that could all change, but I sailed past 40 without any issue, continuing my daily Coke-and-candy habits.
Apparently, though, the metabolism of steel that I had in my youth has finally started to rust a bit.
Now, everything was about to change.
My friend brought me up to speed on getting started with a low carb diet. Many of the things I ingested daily were now off the list: No Cokes. No cookies. No bread. No cereal. Next to no sugar! (Did I mention how much I love sugar?)
In the induction phase of Atkins, you must limit your total daily carbohydrate intake to 2o grams of net carbs or less. In later phases, Atkins dieters can begin to increase their carb intake, but my friend said he always stayed under the 20-carb limit the entire time until reaching his target weight. I later learned that the firm, 20-carb limit throughout one’s entire weight loss journey is the cornerstone of the Keto diet, so what we have all actually been following is actually more in line with a ketogenic diet.
With Keto, we don’t count calories, we eat as much as we want whenever we’re hungry, but we eat very few carbs. When we do eat carbohydrates, they’re usually the “good” kinds: nuts, vegetables, or berries.
While it seems like there are many, many things you can’t eat, there are plenty of things that you can. Eggs, cheeses, meats, and seafood are pretty much unlimited. You can eat plenty of avocado, olives, broccoli, cauliflower — even coconut! Cooking with real butter and cream are both allowed and highly encouraged.
Atkins and Keto are very pro-fat diets which fill you up, makes you feel less hungry, and also makes your body burn your own fat for energy. My husband and I went from having cereal for breakfast to making omelettes together every day. You’ve got to love a diet that lets you eat as much bacon as you want! Chicken wings? Yes. Steak? Yes. Seafood? Yes!
The first few weeks of the diet were the worst though. My body went through a tough withdrawal process, both from caffeine (how I missed my daily Cokes!) and from carbohydrates in general. I felt lousy. I spent a lot of time reading about side effects and what to expect, and I knew it would probably be tough during that first month. Reddit’s Keto community continues to be a favorite resource of mine, especially for Keto-friendly meal-planning ideas.
However, no one could argue with the results. I lost nine pounds in the first month, eleven in the second, and five in the third. The men in our group have all averaged losses of at least ten pounds a month!
No one has changed their level of physical activity at all during the last three months either — everything’s the same as it was prior to going low-carb. I work out once a week with my martial arts instructor, and my husband and friend don’t work out at all.
We already cooked from scratch quite a bit, but we went from having convenience meals a few times a week to hardly having them at all. Family pizza night still takes place once a week, but it’s now a carb-friendly pizza with a cheese and almond flour crust (really! It’s tough to believe this isn’t made of dough.)
Grocery shopping has definitely been a little different over the last three months, as my shopping cart now contains things like almond flour, coconut flour, erythritol and stevia. We are still cooking “normally” for our boys — pasta night means traditional noodles for them and roasted, chopped cauliflower drenched in sauce for us. If they’d like to have a potato with dinner, we may have green beans instead.
When I previouly ate a primarily carb-based diet, I used to wake up hungry the minute I got out of bed. Now, I feel full all the time and am rarely hungry. It’s been immensely helpful to have both my husband and two of my closest friends going through this journey too, as we are constantly sharing low-carb recipes and snack ideas with each other. Everyone has said they feel like they have more energy. I’ve also seen some other interesting side effects — my skin is clearer, and my fingernails are growing longer and stronger too.
Now that I’ve reached my goal weight, I still plan to eat low-carb. I’ve increased my carb limit to 50 carbohydrates per day, which is still much lower than I previously ate. And guess what — I still haven’t had a Coke since July. (I know — it shocks me too!) While I could be drinking diet sodas in my new, lower-carb life, I don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners, nor do I like artificial sweeteners in general, so for me, those are out.
I’m also not a “perfect” dieter. We’ve eaten very, very well at home, but we’ve also vacationed and dined out during the past three months, so we did allow ourselves a little leeway to enjoy a few treats here and there. I do plan to continue eating primarily low-carb moving forward with some sweet snacks and treats in moderation.
And those jeans that started the entire bet? I’m wearing them today to celebrate.
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Glad this was a good experience for you, but surprised you did it since you were so thin anyway.
I guess we can look for how you adapted couponing to get low carb foods, something often harder to find deals on then?
Coupon Maven says
You’re right – appearance-wise, I did not really feel I needed to change.I decided to do it completely because of this bet over a pair of jeans..! However, I’m happy with the results, and I imagine my doctor will be too the next time I see him. When I saw him in January, he told me I should try to lose some weight because I was nearing the top of the ideal range for my height (I was in the low 140s at that point.) I really had no idea how quickly the weight would come off if I started closely watching my carb intake.
That said, I’m not changing the focus of my blog, although if I spot good deals on low-carb products, I’ll include them. I already have been putting the low-carb ice creams like Enlightened and Halo Top in store matchups whenever I see them — they’re expensive and it’s nice to get a deal on them. :)
A lot of the low carb items do cost more than traditional ingredients — this is the case with any specialty foods, whether it’s gluten-free, vegetarian, or low-carb. I recently went to a blogger expo too where a lot of natural and low-carb brands were excited about working with bloggers — I’ve got a fun giveaway coming up soon that involves a low-carb item that, while low in carbs, is something everybody will probably enjoy :)
Congratulations! I am the same way, easy to maintain weight until about 45… I have changed my eating habits also.
This was the inspiration I needed! I followed this diet 21 years ago and lost 32 pounds in 3 months. I, too, thought I was fine, but I weighed 145 and that was 15 pounds more than when I gave birth to my son! I’m 5’1 and 5 pounds shows up quickly on me. I haven’t had a coke in 21 years, I accidentally grabbed a friend’s drink a year or so ago and almost threw up when I tasted Coke. I used to drink cream and sugar with a little coffee, for 21 years I’ve only put heavy whipping cream in my coffee. I learned to love it. I followed this diet loosely for a while, but I can tell I need to dial back the carbs again. Thanks for the reminder, it’s not as hard as people think and you’re right about feeling full. I also felt better and had more energy than ever. Here we go!
Congratulations on your weight loss! I too do a ketogenic way of eating. I’ve lost 11 lbs thus far (I’m a SLOOOOOOWW loser due to thyroid issues) but am happy with any weight loss. I have 4 lbs to do to my goal. I did this way of eating for health reasons more than for weight loss (but 11 lbs gone is a good thing as a side effect). Sugar feeds cancer. Cancer cells need sugar to survive. Eliminate the sugar, cancer can’t take over. The ketogenic diet has been around for quite some time. It was used and still is for epileptic patients. Also, used for cancer patients. I love my overall even mood and don’t have the 3pm “slump” where I feel I need to eat.
Coupon Maven says
I too have been reading about the beneficial effects of keto as a cancer preventative or cancer-fighting regimen — it really is fascinating. I never gave much thought to the fact that your body treats a russet potato pretty much the same as straight sugar.
I too power through my afternoons without much “grazing” — I used to hit that slump too and reach for a snack… or a Coke!
http://2ketodudes.com/ Love their podcasts, and congrats on feeling better!
DH and I started low carb about a month ago for weight loss. I’m down 11 and he is down 15lbs. We did Atkins for 6 months around 13-14 years ago between our 2 kids and he lost over 60 lbs and I lost 25. Over the last 14 years, that’s crept back on and then some. I can tell you, nowadays, there are so many more options and recipes available than when we originally did Atkins.
I am doing the same things with our kids. I made them roasted potatoes and DH and I had creamy cheesy asparagus. They have pasta and it’s zoodles or EGG faux noodles for us. I still keep sweets in the house for them and even the Halloween candy bowl isn’t calling out too much to me. It seems like I don’t have sugar cravings even after just a month without it.
Coupon Maven says
That’s wonderful! I agree that there are SO many options for low carb eating now. I did sneak a mini Snickers on Halloween, but I’ve been very, very good.
Thank you so much for posting such a comprehensive list of foods for the Keto diet. It makes success so much easier if you can start prepared. Your list and reviews are wonderful. Will you be posting recipes you use also? The crust on the pizza you pictured looks really nice and very different from the ones I’ve seen online. I know you mentioned Almond flour and cheese, but it really looks like dough.
Coupon Maven says
Yes! I’m working on a post linking some of my favorite recipes, including the pizza! (If you can’t wait, Google “Fathead Pizza” and you’ll find a bunch of versions of it.) I will have the post up as soon as I can. I marvel at that crust every time I make it — it really looks, feels, and tastes like dough.
Update: Here’s my list of favorite Keto recipes so far: https://jillcataldo.com/favorite-low-carb-recipes/