‘I Followed The Keto Diet And The CICO Method And Lost 160 Pounds’

My name is Caitlin DeMasellis (@leanqueensupreme) and I am 30 years old. I’m from Holly, Michigan, and I’m a sales associate and ACE-certified personal trainer. I tried the keto diet, followed by plain ol' calorie tracking and fun exercise, and I've lost 160 pounds.

I was always a heavy child. But my weight skyrocketed at the age of 13 when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I had struggled with overeating already by that point, and food became my emotional support during that time and afterward.

I struggled to do normal things like bend over to tie my shoes, walk up the stairs, or exercise my dog. Just about any activity made me feel like I couldn’t breathe, caused me to drip with seat, and made me feel like I was overheating. At 17, I hit my heaviest weight of 325 pounds.

When I was 17 years old in the spring of 2008, I knew I needed to make a change. We had to order our caps and gowns for graduation, and we were getting our measurements taken, which included our height and weight. I was asked what my was, and I was so mortified that I lied and told the man taking everything at a significantly lower weight. He warned that you couldn't reorder once you picked, and I wanted to fit in my gown for graduation day, so I wanted to make some drastic changes.

At first I had no idea what I was doing. I tried to eat what I saw skinny girls on TV eating. I tried every single fad diet out there, with zero success. What ultimately worked for me was recognizing that my terrible eating habits came from my emotional eating. Once I upped my awareness of this and eventually stopped using food as a coping mechanism, I found weight loss to be *so* much easier. That's when I could really start trying new eating plans in a healthy way.

In 2016 I had huge success with the keto diet, but now I mainly focus on eating as many whole, unprocessed foods as possible.

I follow something called CICO (meaning: calories in, calories out). I keep track of my calorie intake and make sure I burn more calories than I eat each day to stay in a calorie deficit for weight loss.

Tracking what I eat was key because I found that a lot of the seemingly healthy things I ate, like nuts and granola, were actually super high in calories, and it helped me realize I was eating much more than a single serving as well. Knowing exactly what I was consuming took out all the guesswork.

I also had to recognize that I am not perfect. I used to get *so* upset when I would cave and eat junk food or overeat. This would trigger a downward spiral of emotional eating/binging that might last two days or two months. Once I acknowledged that I will never be perfect, I was able to forgive myself and be gentle with myself and get right back to my healthy way of living.

Here’s what I typically eat in a day:

  • Breakfast: If I’m running, I will usually eat overnight oats and a banana. And if I am resting, I might have a protein bar or shake.
  • Lunch: I love making low-carb wraps with tons of veggies and protein.
  • Snacks: I try to keep snacks high-protein and low-calorie. This usually means low-sugar Greek yogurt with some fruit, or a piece of cheese with vegetables. I also always keep a protein bar in my purse in case I get caught out of the house and I’m hungry.
  • Dinner: I love recreating some of my favorite childhood recipes with a healthier twist. This usually means cutting back on tons of noodles or switching from high-fat protein (like ground beef) to something lower-calorie, like chicken sausage or ground turkey. I try to have at least two vegetables incorporated into every dinner as well.
  • Dessert: I love ice cream but I’ve found that portion control (especially when you’re excited about ice cream!) can be difficult. I opt for single-serving ice cream treats like frozen Greek yogurt bars or Enlightened ice cream bars.

My typical week of exercise means three enjoyable cardio activities (running, biking, kayaking) as well as two strength-training days.

I take my weekends off but try to incorporate something with my family like walking the dog or playing a game outside (golf, cornhole, etc.) I’ve enjoyed competitions and have run races and also participated in triathlons.

Another one of the most helpful changes I made on my journey was I stopped doing exercise that I hated. I used to drive to the gym and just sit in the parking lot for hours, then drive home. I dreaded exercise so much that I couldn’t even make myself go inside. Once I found something I enjoyed (like riding the exercise bike while watching my favorite TV show), going to the gym was something I could look forward to. This led to me going back to school and becoming an ACE-certified personal trainer.

My weight-loss journey may have started when I was 17 years old, but I didn’t really start to see real progress until I started keto, then CICO, in 2016.

I’ve lost over 160 pounds total, and my weight goes up and down a little bit, as does everyone's. Since 2016 I’ve finally stopped yo-yo dieting and have been able to maintain a healthy weight.

Small changes over time add up to big results, so start with small weekly changes and build on your progress every week. Before long, you’ll be looking back with a surprised, triumphant smile.

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