This Mom Lost 120 Pounds on the Keto Diet Without Setting Foot in a Gym

Learn how the low-carb high-fat diet transformed her life.

When I was in second grade, my parents got divorced and my brother and I ended up living with my dad. Unfortunately, while our health was always a priority for my dad, we didn't always have the means to eat the most nutritious, home-cooked foods. (We often lived in small places, sometimes without a kitchen.) That's when fast food and processed foods became part of the norm.

My unhealthy relationship with food really took off during that time. Even though I was a skinny kid growing up, by the time I reached high school, I was considerably overweight and didn't know where or how to start gaining back my health.

After years of “failed” attempts to lose weight, I lost hope. I wanted a quick fix, to no longer feel trapped in my body, something to save me. I remember thinking that maybe one day a pill would be made that I could take and then I’d finally be able to lose weight. I tried almost every diet, plan, shake and appetite supplement...but when none of that worked I had no choice but to start looking from within. (And yes, that’s the hard part sometimes...It’s emotional, and vulnerable and sometimes things can feel worse before they feel better.) When I got serious about keto I also got serious about making my life and dreams a priority. I worked on healing from the inside out and outside in (which is ongoing!) While losing 120 lbs, I truly realized how important this shift in mindset and self-love truly is. It’s a package deal, you can’t just change the foods you eat, you have to change the way you think, the way you talk to yourself, the way you invest and believe in yourself. The one thing I can say for sure is it’s worth it, you’re worth it. One step, one goal, one day at a time. #weightlossjourney #keto #ketodiet #beforeandafter #lowcarb #momlife #thankful #changeyourlife #love #fitfam #ketofam #ketogenicdiet #mindset 📷: @bebrookelyn

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Over the years, I tried everything from the South Beach Diet, Atkins, and Weight Watchers to B12 shots with diet pills, the infamous 21 Day Fix, SlimFast, and juicing. The list goes on. Each time I tried one fad or another, I felt like this was it. Each time, I was sure that this time was going to be the time that I finally made a change.

One of those times was my wedding. I thought for sure that the occasion would be the perfect way to get back into shape. Unfortunately, thanks to all the bridal showers, parties, and tastings, I ended up gaining weight instead of losing it. By the time I walked down the aisle, I was a size 26 and weighed over 300 pounds. (Related: Why I Decided Not to Lose Weight for My Wedding)

Seven years ago today we said “I DO”! In every possible way Mick has been by my side, and I feel so fortunate to be married to my best friend. I remember when we were planning the wedding and looking for photographers a very close family member questioned why I would actually pay for a Photographer to take my picture. Yeah, people can be pretty ruthless...and it hurt really bad. When the wedding photos came in I didn’t print a single one and only shared a very select few. I felt so ashamed, and every picture made me cringe. I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to stop worrying so much and just enjoy the day. Instead we are renewing our vows in three years (our 10 year anniversary), and I’m looking forward to experiencing that day with a whole new outlook on self love (regardless of size) and being in the moment! Happy Anniversary, Mick! I love you, always and forever. ❤️ . . #keto #weddingdress #weightlossjourney #inspiration #weddingphotography #weddinggown #fitfam #ketofam

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From that point on, I felt completely hopeless. The fact that I wasn't able to lose weight for what I thought was the most important day of my life made me feel like maybe it just wasn't going to happen.

My true wake-up call came just three years ago, when the son of a friend was diagnosed with a terminal disease. It was devastating to watch him regress because of his illness, eventually becoming bedridden and then passing away.

Watching him and his family go through that pain made me think: Here I was, lucky to have a body that was healthy and capable despite everything I'd done to it. I didn't want to keep living like that anymore. (Related: Watching Her Son Almost Get Hit By a Car Inspired This Woman to Lose 140 Pounds)

So I signed up for my first 5K in his memory—something I now run every year as a reminder of where I've been. In addition to running, I started looking for healthy eating ideas and came across keto, a very low-carb, high-fat diet. I'd never heard of it before. I'd already given everything else under the sun a shot, so I decided it might be worth trying. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About the Keto Diet)

In January 2015, I started on my keto journey.

At first, I thought it would be easy. It definitely wasn't. For the first two weeks, I felt tired and hungry all the time. But as I started teaching myself about food, I realized that I wasn't actually hungry; I was detoxing and craving sugar. ICYDK, sugar is addictive, so your body literally goes through withdrawal when you cut it out. But I found that as long as I stayed on top of my electrolytes and stayed hydrated, the feeling of hunger would pass. (Check out: The Results One Woman Had After Following the Keto Diet)

So excited to share some really exciting news with you guys!! On January 4th between 9-10 AM I will be on The Today Show with @megyntoday! Mick and I fly to NYC tomorrow morning, and I am beyond excited for this incredible experience (and my first time ever in NYC!!) Three year ago today I decided to start keto, and on the same day I quit because I wasn’t prepared or fully invested. If you had big goals to get on track today and it didn’t go as planned, don’t sweat it! You really don’t need to wait for a specific day to make livable changes! I woke up the morning of the 13th and thought, “what am I waiting for”, that day I went to the store, made some livable changes and a year later had lost 100lbs! Remember, progress not perfection! One day, one step at a time! #ketogenic #ketodiet #newyearsresolution #lowcarb #keto #progressnotperfection #weightloss #fitfam #ketofam #ketoweightloss #todayshow #thankful

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In just four or five weeks, I started seeing results. I had already lost 21 pounds. That—combined with a newfound mental clarity from cutting sugar out of my diet—really helped motivate me to continue eating well. I'd spent my whole life obsessing about food and, for the first time, I felt my appetite decrease. This allowed me to think about other things that were important to me and to get out of the hungry haze I'd been living in. (Related: The Keto Diet Transformed Jen Widerstrom's Body In Just 17 Days)

I started keeping my diet simple, yet consistent—something I maintain to this day. In the mornings I usually have a cup of coffee with half-and-half and a natural sweetener and scrambled eggs with avocado on the side. For lunch, I'll have a bunless sandwich wrapped in lettuce with chicken or turkey along with a salad with dressing (that isn't loaded with sugar). Dinner usually involves a moderate serving of protein (think fish, chicken, or steak), with a side salad as well. One of my goals is to include green cruciferous vegetables in every meal. I'll snack sometimes if I'm feeling particularly hungry, but TBH, most days that's more than enough food to keep me satisfied, and it doesn't leave me thinking about food. (Also see: How to Safely and Effectively Come Off the Keto Diet)

I used to think that losing weight would be the key to my happiness, but it turns out I held the key all along. I had a lot of hurt and sadness paired with only a little self esteem and self love...this combination was tough, and I struggled to find my way for a long LONG time. One day I had enough and decided to start fighting for my life. It hasn’t always been easy, and I’ll always be a work in progress, but I’ve grown so much. Sure, losing weight is great and I feel so much better...but the main thing I celebrate these days is how much I’ve grown as a person...as a mom, a wife, a daughter, and a friend. To be a person who shows up, faces their fears, and extends love and kindness not only to others but to myself. #selflove #thankful #change #selfesteem #weightloss #keto #simplyketo #transformation

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You might be thinking: What about exercise? I'm not the kind of person who goes to the gym, but I knew that being active would help with weight loss. So I started doing small things to add activity into my day, like parking my car far away so I had to walk farther to get to the store. My weekend activities changed too: Instead of sitting on the couch and watching TV, my husband, daughter, and I go for long walks and hikes. (Related: Why Exercise Is the Least Important Part of Weight Loss)

To date, I've lost 120 pounds, bringing my weight to 168. It goes without saying that keto has been a wonderful decision for me and is a very important part of my story—so much so that I wrote a book about it. [Ed note: Many experts believe the ketogenic diet is best followed for a limited amount of time—i.e., for a little as two weeks or up to 90 days—or suggest carb-cycling as an option when not following a low-carb keto diet. Consult your doctor before starting any new diet to ensure there are no contraindications.]

The very first copies of my book are out to some of my closest friends (official release day Dec 12th -only four more days!) and I’m sitting here in tears. Happy, thankful, and humble tears. I can’t tell you how surreal this feels...to create something near and dear to my heart in hopes of helping others who have struggled like I have. To take a painful and isolating part of my life and process it all while turning it into a book filled with love, encouragement and HOPE. I’ve been so emotional lately, and I think part is that I’m finally at a place where I truly feel love and empathy for both phases of my life that you see above. Knowing that it’s never really a perfect process, and that I’ll always be a work in progress. I’ve realized that without the struggle and pain I wouldn’t have the compassion or insight to so many things that make me who I am. Although I wear my heart on my sleeve, I wouldn’t change it for the world because I love being able to connect with others on a level that some people will never fully understand. This community is family to me, and I want to thank you all for your love and support. You all have made my heart feel so full. ❤️ (Link to order @simply.keto in my bio)

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That being said, when it comes to extreme weight loss, it's important to find what works best for you. Once you find that, you have to really invest in it—that's where sustainable success really lies. Most people who've struggled with their weight know that it comes with body-image and self-esteem issues. You have to focus on addressing those issues before you can truly make being healthy a lifestyle and not just a passing phase.

At the end of the day, if my story inspires even one person to treat their body well, then I'd consider that a job well done. The biggest and scariest decision is the decision to try, but what do you have to lose? Take that leap and start treating your body the way it deserves to be treated. You won't regret it.+

This article originally appeared on Shape.com.