Seven months after having her second child, Keli Ricci, 33, joined her family for a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It was exhausting for her. At 5 feet 4 inches tall, she weighed 207 pounds and felt uncomfortable and unhappy navigating the amusement park.
“I was frustrated when I was supposed to be enjoying time with my family,” Ricci, an area manager for a retail merchandising company in Sacramento, California, told TODAY, via email.
She realized her weight kept her from having fun. That’s when her husband, Tyler, 32 came up with an idea to help them both.
“My husband suggested we place a bet on which one of us could last the longest without added sugar or carbs,” she explained.
Ricci agreed and started monitoring what she ate in June 2017. After two weeks, Tyler “caved in,” but she liked that her low-carb and sugar-free life helped her lose a few pounds so she kept going.
“It was so helpful to have my husband's support especially in the beginning when we were changing a lot of our eating habits,” Ricci explained. “I continued eating low-carb, which evolved into a ketogenic diet.”
With a ketogenic or keto diet, she eats low-carb but high fat and protein, adding foods like nuts, cheese, chicken, steak, vegetables and even sugar-free ice cream to her diet. Following an eating plan like this requires a lot of work so Ricci started tracking what she ate in the app Lose It!
“By tracking what I eat, it’s easier to stay on course,” she said.
By May 2018, Ricci lost 82 pounds to weigh 125 pounds. After a year of maintaining her weight, she is still surprised by her accomplishments.
“When I started to lose weight I figured I’d maybe lose a little, but I thought for sure I’d just gain it back,” she said. “I found out that I have much more strength and willpower than I thought.”
She thinks that losing weight helps her be a better mom because she likes who she is and no longer feels self-conscious doing normal activities.
“My confidence has improved so much and I no longer have anxiety about situations like swimming with my kids,” she explained. “Since losing the weight I can do things more spontaneously and live more in the moment.”
While she doesn’t exercise regularly, she has more energy and plays with her children, Olivia, 6, and Harrison, 2, more often.
“(I) am much more active with my family now that I am not carrying so much extra weight,” she said.
Ricci shares tips for those hoping to shed a few pounds.
1. Set reasonable goals.
While cutting all sugar and processed carbs might sounds like a huge deal, Ricci only started doing it as a bet. When her husband gave up, she stuck with it. Approaching her weight loss in manageable bits helps keep her focused.
2. Track what you eat.
Ricci had no idea that she was often eating meals that were too large.
“It’s eye-opening to see how your food affects your health and what a portion size actually means,” she said.
3. Don’t use food as a reward.
While it feels tempting to treat yourself to ice cream or pizza when you reach goals, Ricci finds it is better to use other rewards instead.
“Don’t reward yourself with food. It’s an easy way to undo some of the work you’ve done,” she said.