Weight loss is a struggle that everyone can relate to. While it is important to maintain body positivity, managing one’s weight is important from a health perspective.
Others may not have any problems maintaining a healthy weight, but there are many out there who have had to struggle with body issues all their life.
Chineye Emeche of Laurel, Maryland was one of those people who have had to deal with body issues for a long time. However, her weight concerns came to a head two years ago. She joined family and friends in celebrating her brother’s 30th birthday in Mexico, and hit rock bottom.
She recalled, “I saw pictures and the videos and I was mortified. I was really bothered by how I looked and physically I wasn’t happy.” Emeche added, “My joints hurt. Everything hurt. I couldn’t walk upstairs. I was out of breath just walking down the street. I was 33. It wasn’t normal and I wanted a change.”
Upon returning home, Emeche immediately started on WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers. She remembered starting her weight loss journey on November 12, 2018, stating, “I just started and as easy as that sounds, that’s the hardest step.”
She shared that she wanted to start right away, instead of waiting for the New Year. “I was like, it doesn’t matter what you do, just start today and don’t stop.”
On the WW program, Emeche discovered that when she ate fewer carbohydrates, she felt better and lost more weight. This led to more serious research on weight loss, and a transition to a ketogenic, or keto, diet.
After two years on the keto diet, Emeche has successfully lost 90 pounds. She still follows the diet, and has learned to listen to her own body to know when and what to eat.
“As women, we’re taught to be so self-aware and aware of our bodies but I never paid attention to things until I started keto and started listening to my body,” she said. “Now I just go about my day and when my body says, ‘you need to eat,’ I sit down and eat.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, the keto diet severely restricts carbohydrates and highlights high-fat foods. In the keto diet, about 60% to 80% should come from fat, and the rest from moderate amounts of protein, and less than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day.
Typically, the body uses glucose, which comes from carbohydrates, as fuel. So in a very high-fat, low-carb diet, the body instead uses fatty acids and ketone bodies for energy in a process called ketosis, hence the ketogenic diet.
Most people may think that the keto diet is just another fad, but it has actually been around for a long time. In the 1920s, the keto diet was used to treat children with epilepsy.
Today, the keto diet is increasingly used for weight loss, or as the diet of choice of endurance athletes in sports such as marathons and triathlons.
Emeche mostly eats vegetables and foods high in protein and healthy fat. Keto diet mainstays include small amounts of meat, eggs, and fish, butter, avocados, nuts and seeds, full-fat cheese and other dairy products, oils, and non-starchy and fibrous vegetables.
People on a keto diet will have to forego carbohydrates including baked goods, sweets, pasta, potatoes, fruits, and beer.
Emeche’s previous eating habits were vastly different from keto. “I have done a lot of binge eating in the past, where I would eat healthy but then I’d eat a pack of doughnuts and just eat my emotions. I used to be a sugar and sweets addict and now I don’t even crave them,” she said.
Documented on Instagram, Emeche’s weight loss triumph has been a huge source of inspiration for her followers. She shares her favorite keto recipes on social media, but she also recalls the realities that come with struggling with weight.
Emeche actually gained about 20 pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic, but she’s working hard on losing the extra weight. She said, “It hasn’t been upward mobility for this journey. I go up and I go down, but I’m not afraid of the scale anymore.”
Her Instagram also documents lifestyle changes, as Emeche hopes to help build what she calls “generational health.”
She said, “You can do everything right and it won’t budge or you’ll gain, and in the past that would cause me to eat poorly or binge and not focus on the overall goal, which is good health. When people ask me questions, I’m very forthcoming because I want people to know they’re not alone. There’s a community of support out there.”
Two years on keto, Emeche is now the picture of health. Before she lost weight, Emeche actually struggled just to walk down a street. Her daily routine now includes exercise and new challenges to stay fit and healthy.
Her advice to others struggling with weight? Just take the first step, which is the hardest step, and believe in themselves.
“I was a step away from weight loss surgery and keto was my last step before I went through it and I’m so grateful,” Emeche said. “I thought I was just meant to be heavy my whole life. If I can do this, anybody can do this.”