My name is Sydney Baumel (@sydne_fitness), and I’m 22 years old. I live on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and I’m a bookkeeper. I struggled with binge eating for years before going to counseling to get to the root of my problems. Once I got through those issues, I tried keto and 18:6 intermittent fasting, and I’ve lost 100 pounds.

I’ve been overweight since I was a kid, and it’s always caused me to struggle with insecurities and confidence issues. As a teen, I would binge eat and drink alcohol every weekend, which led me to have some mental health issues, and it was a vicious cycle. At my heaviest, I weighed 330 pounds.

My turning point came in April 2018, when I was 20 years old. I’d had an extremely difficult year where I was not taking care of myself and I was using food to cope with my emotions. I had participated in counseling in the past, so I decided to revisit it before starting my weight-loss journey.

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After I went to counseling and learned better coping mechanisms, I was able to approach dieting in a healthy way.

In my teens, I had some success with a low-carb diet but didn’t really know what I was doing. So after doing some research on the keto diet, I decided it was the right eating style for me. I found a ton of videos that told me exactly what to do and just jumped in. Eating this way has never made me feel like I was being restricted, and that’s why I have been able to make it part of my lifestyle.

Around this time, I also was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, and I was told there was nothing they could do other than medication. Every time they would wean me off the medications, my symptoms would come back. But the ketogenic diet seems to really help me manage my autoimmune disorder, and my symptoms have not returned in the two years since I started my low-carb, keto lifestyle. (This is just *my* personal experience, though, and you should talk to a doctor before changing up your eating plan if you have a health diagnosis.)

After a year of eating keto, I also started intermittent fasting.

I eased into fasting with 12-hour fasts, then moved up to 16 hours. Now I do 18 hours of fasting. I’ll have black coffee in the morning, and I begin eating at 12 p.m. and I finish eating at 6 p.m. in the evening. This works with my work schedule, and I have my first meal during my lunch break.

Here’s what I eat in a day now:

  • Breakfast: I always fast in the mornings, so I typically do not eat any breakfast. But a good keto breakfast for me would be bacon, eggs, and avocado.
  • Lunch: Pot roast with green beans, butter, salt, and pepper.
  • Dinner: Butter chicken on a bed of cauliflower rice.
  • Dessert: I make a mean keto carrot cake. I eat sweets as a treat, but not typically.

For the first year of my weight-loss journey, I basically did zero exercise. But now I exercise two to five times a week.

I got into working out thanks to my work. They have an amazing program where we get to do a workout class two days a week during our lunch hour. This really got me into the routine of moving, and from there I added other workouts on the other days. I do HIIT workouts three times a week, and typically some weight training and cardio on the other days.

These three changes helped me see the most noticeable results in my weight loss.

Change one: I cut out most carbs from my diet. These foods were emotional triggers for me and also did nothing nutritionally for me. Cutting them out made me think about what I was putting into my mouth, and I also became very aware of the nutritional value in my daily foods.

Change two: I started tracking my macros. This kept me accountable and stopped me from overeating because I had to see what I was eating every day. It also taught me what was actually in the food I was eating and the ingredients I never knew were there. I never noticed how much sugar and hydrogenated oils were in the foods I ate every day!

Change three: I cook all my meals at home. For the first time, I wasn’t eating processed foods. Clean, homemade foods were the ones that really helped my body heal. It taught me to be creative in the kitchen, which has really helped me stick to the keto diet for the last two years. I have never followed a meal plan and have always used Pinterest as a way to find awesome keto recipes for anything I was craving.

I have lost 100 pounds in a year, and I have goals to lose even more.

I want other women to know that if you find yourself having issues with binge eating or emotional eating, try your best to identify the issues that lead you to those actions. These issues kept acting as triggers for me and sabotaged my weight loss for years. Once I finally let go of what was hurting me, I was able to drop bad habits, and in turn, the weight. I took time to love myself and focus on my happiness.

Losing weight has given me my life back. I couldn’t sit in a booth without my stomach touching the table or the steering wheel when I drove. I could barely tie my shoes, and I had to get an extension for my seatbelt on a plane. I went on a plane a few months ago and I didn’t need the extension—that was such a big victory for me. I am so grateful for all the people I watched on Instagram that gave me the motivation to do better and stick with my journey.

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