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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