I Never Expected Keto and 16:8 Intermittent Fasting To Be The Post-Baby Weight-Loss Tools I Needed

The basics: My name is Sarah Stewart (@sarahiously.transformed), and I'm 31 years old, from Rome, Pennsylvania. I'm a mom of four children ages 8, 6, 4, and 2. After four children, I knew I wanted to hit the reset button and get healthy—and I've lost over 100 pounds with keto and fasting strategies.

I was an athlete in high school and never struggled with my weight. As a tall female (5’11”), even at my thinnest I felt like the “big girl” but at 165 pounds. I was fit and in the best shape I could be in. However, once I decided not to continue my athletics into college, my weight started to creep up. By the time I graduated college, I was around 230 pounds and was about to marry my high school sweetheart.

We started having children right away, and my weight kept going up. I breastfed each of my children and would continue to gain weight while nursing. It was a huge mental hurdle to feel like I needed to nourish my children, but I couldn’t even be healthy for myself.

A couple months after having my fourth (and final) baby, my weight was 279 pounds, and I continued to gain while breastfeeding. I finally decided to try my best to get healthy and still be able to feed my last newborn.

I started the ketogenic diet when my littlest was a few months old, during the summer of 2017.

I had great success with keto. It was exactly what I needed to get into the mentality of yes I *can* lose weight. I wasn’t counting calories. I wasn’t stressing. I was eating delicious food and I was still successfully nursing my infant. I was seeing the scale number continuously go down and knew that I could keep the momentum going.

I stayed keto for a year, then decided to eat low carb instead, with less focus on being high fat in addition to low carb.

About six months into starting the keto diet, I also started intermittent fasting (IF).

I found out I had Hashimoto’s disease (a thyroid disorder), so I started IF to attempt to control my symptoms, I started adding in intermittent fasting (where I would not eat for 16 hours and consume food within an 8-hour eating window). And after a short time, my Hashimoto’s symptoms were gone. (Important to clarify: Intermittent fasting has not been proven to cure or improve thyroid issues. But dietary changes can impact thyroid disorder-related symptoms. If you're curious about trying IF and also deal with a thyroid disorder, you should speak with your doctor before you try fasting.)

Now, I still fast intermittently but I play around with the windows in which I choose to eat and fast, so I might do an 18-hour fast with a 6-hour eating window, eat one meal a day (OMAD), or just give myself a day off from fasting completely and eat on a more typical schedule.

When it comes to what I eat in a day, I'm a big fan of leftovers and low-carb swaps.

Here's what a typical day of eating looks like for me.

  • Breakfast: Because I fast, I usually start eating around 2 p.m., but some days my eating window is earlier. For my first meal, I love to have eggs! Avocado, bacon, scrambled eggs, and hot sauce together are my favorite.
  • Lunch: I’m huge on leftovers. I usually make extra chicken and veggies (for instance, I make chicken fajitas with cauliflower rice instead of tortillas, with peppers, salsa, sour cream, and avocado).
  • Snacks: String cheese, dark chocolate, almonds, or hard-boiled eggs.
  • Dinner: Meatloaf (you can mix parmesan and crushed pork rinds for a low-carb option instead of bread crumbs), mashed potatoes (or cauli mash), gravy, and a veggie.
  • Dessert: I love Halo Top. I also love dark chocolate with a scoop or two of peanut butter.

    As for physical activity? My kids keep me busy and active. But, to be honest, I totally wing it with a real exercise routine. Some weeks I find I’m not very active, but other weeks I add in resistance band training or I use the stationary bike.

    Women's Health Keto Made Simple

    In order to be successful with my weight-loss journey, I had to break the one-diet-fits-all mentality.

    As someone who used to struggle with binge eating, it really helped me to have a set time when I could eat to avoid going overboard. I had a hard time with the typical "calories in, calories out" mindset which caused binging and quitting. Just find what works for your lifestyle.

    And if I slipped up or felt like I fell off my path, I made sure to keep at it. I had so many days where I was feeling like I was taking steps back, but I never let it set me back long term.

    I also had to learn to ride out plateaus. It’s hard not to get frustrated when weight loss slows down, but it’s not going to speed up if you quit. So keep going, and the weight loss *and* health benefits will come.

    I started at 295 pounds, and now I weigh around 185 pounds.

    So I’ve lost around 110 pounds. It took me about 18 months to lose 100 pounds, and I’ve been maintaining the same weight for almost a year.

    I want other women to focus on loving yourselves before you embark on a weight loss journey. You can love yourself and your body and still want to lose weight and be healthier.

    For more amazing beauty, fitness, and weight loss transformations, check out the rest of our Transformations Week collection.


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