A Low-Carb Diet, Weightlifting, And Pilates Reformer Workouts Helped Me Lose 150 Lbs. In 2 Years

My name is Renatta Keith (@renatta_rising), and I'm 37. I live in Huntsville, Alabama, and I am a laser skin and hair technician. After losing multiple family members and turning to food to comfort myself, I decided to change my life by eating a low-carb diet and working out with a personal trainer to lose 150 pounds.

My weight issues began around 2009, when the first of several family tragedies struck my life. I lost my mother out of the blue in 2009 due to opioid addiction. A few years later, in 2012, my father came home from Iraq and was diagnosed with Parkinson's and eventually passed away from the disease. Losing my parents, as you can imagine, was really difficult to deal with, and it was impossible to escape from the pain of it.

I experienced another loss in 2013. My brother died as a result of alcohol abuse. I had spent the last decade trying to get him healthy and sober. I thought we had won the battle, but sadly, I was wrong.

And what do people do when someone dies? They bring over food. So I began eating to deal with the grief and to comfort myself. It all came to a head for me when I had to have a spinal fusion surgery to mend my lumber spine bones. The recovery and pain from the surgery made me realize how I had taken my body for granted. I had to lose weight to stop further damage to my spine. But I still didn't know how to cope with all of this pain and heartache, so I continued turning to food.

My turning point came in April 2015. I was 32 and on a flight to Los Angeles, and I couldn't fit into my seat.

I needed a seat belt extender and was humiliated. If that wasn't bad enough, once I arrived in LA, my rideshare driver was helping me with my bags and asked how long until I had my baby. Yeah, I was *not* pregnant. In that moment, I knew I wanted to change my life.

I had tried every diet out there, and I knew this time if I wanted to keep the weight off and succeed, I needed to actually like the foods I was eating. Following a low-carb diet helped me eat foods besides salads all day. I didn't feel like I couldn't have the foods I enjoyed–I just had to adjust them a bit. This approach to eating helped me lose a significant amount of weight.

I also made small changes that were super impactful, like cutting out diet soda. This was huge for me because not only did I feel less bloated, but my joints also felt better and I could taste food properly again when I wasn't swallowing everything with soda. It helped cut out the sugar cravings. I also logged all my food. Seeing what I was consuming daily was an eye opener. That visual helped me learn what was in the food I was eating and inspired me to make better choices.

Here’s what I typically eat in a day now:

Breakfast: A chocolate Premier protein shake
Lunch: A lettuce wrap burger
Snacks: A packet of flavored tuna or cheese
Dinner: A steak and a salad
Dessert: Sugar-free and low-carb cheesecake

I also started working with a personal trainer to actually teach me how to work out.

He was very patient with me and always encouraged me. With my spinal issues, we had to be careful with free weights and be mindful about lifting. I took what I learned and started working out at home and outside. I also took a few Pilates classes and invested in a Pilates reformer. I felt like Pilates gave me a great full-body workout and didn't put any extra stress on my body.

I also love to exercise outside. Hiking and kayaking are my favorite because not only are they great workouts, but anytime I can be in nature and exercise, I experience such mental clarityg.

I took measurements instead of using a scale throughout my journey. Sometimes the scale doesn't show all the hard work you do and can be discouraging. I did my part every day with my diet and exercise, and eventually the scale started reflecting those choices. But taking measurements in the meantime gave me a more accurate picture of my progress.

Since changing my diet and picking up weightlifting and Pilates over the last two years, I've lost 150 pounds.

If I could offer anyone who is trying to lose weight some advice, I would tell them that instead of just diving into another trendy weight-loss program, spend some time nurturing your mental health and focus on a mentality change.

Figure out what got you to this point: Why did you gain this weight? Why are you overweight? I learned losing weight wasn't enough until I changed all the behaviors and negative thinking about myself that got me there. I never believed in myself and thought I could never lose weight. Once I changed my mentality, that's when the magic happened.


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