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In 2009, Amanda Tysowski faced a lot of life changes. After buying her first house, she was in a car accident. During recovery, she couldn’t work. As her finances tightened and stress mounted, she turned to fast food to soothe herself.
“I fell into a slump,” the 31-year-old from Winnipeg, Canada, told TODAY, via email. “During a doctor’s appointment … I had weighed 270 pounds. The doctor lectured me on ‘morbid obesity’ but I was in denial.”
At 5 feet 9 inches, Tysowski was always heavier than her friends by 20 or 30 pounds. But people told her she pulled it off so she didn’t worry about what she ate, and she never exercised. She enjoyed indulgent meals with several alcoholic beverages and continued gaining weight. When she got married in 2011, she was 330 pounds.
After having her first child in 2013, she weighed 385 pounds.
“My body was miserable. I was in pain every day,” Tysowski said. “As my daughter became more active, I really thought that this was the time I needed to do something about it.”
She went to a weight-loss clinic, where the staff recommended supplements and a meal plan. It worked: In a year she lost 135 pounds to weigh 250 pounds. But she got pregnant again. This time she had such bad morning sickness that she only felt better when she ate.
“I told myself it would be OK, that I could just deal with this first trimester and get right back to it,” she said. “I gained 90 pounds in those nine months, though I didn’t see it.”
After her son was born in 2016, Tysowski thought she could simply do what she did before. Yet nothing changed.
“I tried for six months and the scale did not budge,” she said.
Tysowski started following some women who shared their weight-loss experiences on Instagram. Using them as inspiration, she started reading labels on food and researching healthy eating. That’s when she learned about the ketogenic diet, a low-carbohydrate, moderate fat and protein diet. She decided to pair that with intermittent fasting in January 2017 to see if she could become healthier. Immediately, she realized she didn’t understand what it meant to eat healthfully.
“I had not learned anything about food or how to plan meals for myself,” she said.
She soon realized that eating vegetables and meat worked and she dropped weight. After she lost 100 pounds, she incorporated exercise and started going to a women’s only gym, where she did cardio and weight lifting. Today, she walks daily and lifts weights twice a week.
“I thought exercising was for weight loss, but I have found that it is like therapy. I feel better mentally,” she explained.
So far, she’s lost 205 pounds and now she weighs 180 pounds. She doesn’t have a goal weight in mind, she just wants to be healthy and happy.
“Weight loss has been much more mental than physical,” she said. “I am stronger than I have ever given myself credit for.”
Tysowski shares advice for others hoping to lose weight.
1. Face yourself.
In the past, when Tysowski felt stressed or unhappy she turned to food to help. But she learned she had to address her problems to lose weight.
“I had to learn to deal with feelings instead of bottling them up and coping with food,” she said.
2. You have to want it.
“Your why has to be bigger than your want,” she said. “We spend an entire lifetime thinking about food (or not thinking about it) and in order for our bodies and health to change, we need to change those eating patterns. But it takes time.”
3. Do your research.
While the keto diet appealed to Tysowski, it took a lot of research to learn how to eat. At first, she just swapped low-carb and sugar-free versions of foods for things she loved before. But then she learned how to be creative with her eating (and lost her taste for sweet foods). She is still following the keto diet today.
“Another huge challenge was learning about what foods were OK to eat. You spend your entire life eating a lot of the same food, so mentally, having to think outside the box daily was a challenge, until it became the new normal,” she said.