‘I Loosened Up My Keto Rules And Focused On Eating Low-Carb—And I’ve Lost 45 Pounds

My name is Brooke Rohde (@brookerohde_), and I’m a 26-year-old marketing manager at a tech company in Phoenix, Arizona. After being shocked by how I looked in a photo, I ditched fad diets, started tracking what I ate, and fell in love with spin classes. I’ve lost 45 pounds.

Growing up, I was always the “bigger girl.” One of my most painful childhood memories was in swim lessons at the YMCA when I was 7 years old. A girl pointed at my belly in my two-piece swimsuit and said in front of everyone, “You shouldn’t be wearing that.” On my 8th birthday, I remember I blew out my birthday candles wishing I could look like Britney Spearsbecause that would solve everything, right?

It didn’t help that my mom, dad, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were all lean and could eat whatever they wanted. And then there was me. I couldn’t help but compare myself, and I didn’t understand why I was so different.

My mom tried to help. She had my thyroid tested and had me meet with various therapists and nutritionists. At the end of the day, her idea of helping was to put me (and only me) on a so-called diet. I’d watch my little brother eat McDonald’s, while I had to eat Subway. He could eat Gardetto’s, Pringles, and Gushers for snacks, while I was forced to eat yogurt and baby carrots.

I developed a very unhealthy relationship with food. I’d binge at friends’ houses, buy snacks with my own money, hide them in my room, and get yelled at when empty containers of Oreos were found under my bed.

Fast-forward to college where I had access to unlimited food in the cafeteria and started binge-drinking four days out of the week, and the weight piled on fast.

In 2015, during my senior year of college, I began losing weight—only to gain it back and repeat the cycle.

I tried countless fad diets and weight-loss programs and shelled out thousands of dollars in the hopes that *something* would work for me. Weight Watchers, green tea pills, an Anytime Gym membership (that I never used), a Gold’s Gym membership (same thing), Beachbody at-home workouts, body wraps, Shakeology, 21-Day Fix portion containers, SlimFastyou name it, I tried it.

About a month after my best friend’s wedding, I took a break from dieting and working out. From then on, every day became a cheat day.

My official turning point came in September 2018, after I asked a stranger to take my photo on a trip.

I was on a solo vacation in Seattle and Portland, exploring the area to see if I wanted to move there. At the top of Mount Hood, I asked someone to take my picture. After, I remember looking at myself in the shot in complete disbelief. I weighed myself and saw a number higher than any other number I’d ever seen before. That was it. I knew I had to make a change.

When I got home from my trip, I started researching nutrition and macros.

I bought a food scale and began tracking every single thing I was eating into MyFitnessPal. I’d tried a strict keto diet a few years before but found it was too limiting for me to stick with long-term. I’m humanI like fruit and decadent meals, and I love chips and salsa. I knew I needed to follow an eating plan that had more flexibility.

So, I decided to start messing with my macro ratios. I found if I could slowly start reducing my carb intake, healthy eating felt more manageable. I started by cutting obvious carbs like rice, pasta, and bread. Then, I began being more wary of my sugar intake, as well as that of other high-carb foods.

I also developed a love for spin classes.

I was still doing some at-home workouts from Beachbody, but my coworker had been begging me to go with her to spin. In my first class, in October 2018, I burned over 900 calories, according to my Apple Watch. It felt like dancing on a bike, and I loved it. I started spinning three to four times per week.

Soon after, I lost about 10 pounds and kept it off through Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was beginning to realize that this was truly a lifestyle I could see working for me.

After stumbling across a Reddit thread on fasting, I began to practice intermittent fasting in January 2019.

It was hard for me to make time for breakfast in the morning, and I was drawn in to the fact that our bodies are in some ways meant for fasting (think back to the caveman days, when we were scouring for food and not eating for certain periods of time). My “eating window” is usually between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Here’s what I eat on a typical day:

  • Lunch: I break my fast with a big salad filled with veggies, proteins, healthy fats, and sugar-free dressing (a favorite of mine: a taco salad with romaine lettuce, ground beef, black olives, chopped tomatoes, guac, sour cream, and hot sauce).
  • Dinner: Protein and a side of veggies with a healthy fat (New York strip steak with a side of roasted broccoli dipped in a spicy aioli is a go-to of mine). Sometimes, I’ll make a low-carb casserole or some air-fryer chicken wings tossed in hot sauce.
  • Snacks: Cheese sticks, fancy meats, mixed nuts, or Kirkland protein bars from Costco.
  • Dessert: Low carb-friendly ice cream, dark chocolate chips (I keep them in the freezer and take a small handful before I eat the whole bag!), or Two Good greek yogurt, which has significantly less sugar than any other yogurt I’ve found, yet still comes in a variety of flavors.

After years of dieting ups and downs, I wish that I’d known that weight loss doesn't have to be all or nothing.

The more I told myself I “wasn’t allowed to have something,” the more I wanted it and the more I’d binge when I finally had it. If you want the pizza, eat the pizza and move on. Eating one salad doesn’t make you lose 45 pounds, just as eating a few slices of pizza doesn’t make you gain 45 pounds.

I also wish I had known that not everything is about the number on the scale. I used to hop on the scale multiple times a day, but that number fluctuates for me *so* much. Now, I weigh myself on Thursday mornings, that's it. I use it as a small indicator of my progress, but I also do body measurements. Seeing myself lose half an inch here, half an inch there felt super rewarding.

I also tune into how my clothes fit and how I’m feeling overall. I dropped from a size 24 in jeans to a size 16, and from XXL tops to a standard large.

Today, I work out four to five days a week, and I’m still on a low-carb diet. I’ve lost 45 pounds, and the weight has stayed off.

Trying to enforce lots of restrictions simply doesn't work for me. However, I do feel better when I limit carbs like sugar and grains in my diet (less bloating, clearer skin). So, I choose to eat fewer carbs, but not *no* carbs. On the contrary, one of my best friends is a marathon runner, and she lives on carbs (and pretty much *only* carbs)—so I've realized that you really have to do what works for you.


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