‘I Ate A High-Protein, High-Veggie Diet To Improve My Prediabetes And PCOS Symptoms And Lost 85 Lbs.’

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

From Women’s Health

My name is TC Campbell (@healthyhabitswithtc), and I am 31 years old. I am currently based in Florida, and I am a healthy habits coach, helping women establish a foundation of successful, sustainable, and satisfying habits to achieve weight loss through lifestyle changes. After becoming prediabetic, I started eating a high-protein, veggie-filled diet and upped my workout game.

I tried to lose weight countless times in the past. I relied heavily on friends and family who were unable to keep a commitment to eating healthy or exercising with me. Whenever someone did not show up, I used that as an excuse to not show up for myself. I found every excuse not to stick to healthy eating and exercising—because it was raining, because I did not feel like it, or because I felt like an outcast around others.

I also had other stresses in life. I was in a hostile work environment and a dead-end relationship. These experiences stifled me with stress, and I struggled to cope in unhealthy ways. I would normally default to drinking an excessive amount of wine, sleeping more hours than I needed, eating comfort foods, or watching TV to pacify my stress. At my heaviest weight of 265.5 pounds, I was considered medically obese.

Before my weight loss journey began, I also suffered from blood-loss anemia due to heavy, prolonged periods. As a result, I struggled with shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, and lightheadedness. I also experienced major depression and low self-esteem.

The turning point for me happened in 2018 at 29 years old, while I was planning for a vacation to Arizona.

I wanted to tour and hike in Antelope Canyon, and I remember being obsessively concerned with my ability to complete the hike. Some of the online reviews said it was a long hike with steep stairs and narrow passageways to navigate. I love to experience the outdoors—so at that point, I started to wonder what my life would look like if I didn’t make a change.

I initially met with a team at a metabolic health center that tested me for an array of health concerns.

As a result of the testing, I found out I was prediabetic, severely anemic, and that I had polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS). After that, I worked with a registered dietitian to identify foods that were best to eat considering my health issues. I also worked with a personal trainer (@Roger2Fit) who showed me how to implement those foods into a meal plan that met my macro needs.

My doctor really emphasized the importance of understanding that this was a lifestyle change, and I had to eat in a way that would be sustainable over time.

I wasn’t making a temporary change. My new diet couldn’t be restrictive—it had to be satisfying for me to want to stick to it. This freed me up from feeling guilty when I chose food I just wanted to enjoy, but wasn’t necessarily selected because of the nutritional value.

My eating plan is primarily focused on high-protein foods. I eat few carbs, fats, and processed sugars. My goal is to focus on incorporating as many vegetables as possible. Typically, half of my plate will be vegetables.

Here’s what I typically eat in a day.

  • Breakfast: Four to five large egg whites, two cups kale with 2 tbsp of EVOO lemon herb dressing, plus sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

  • Lunch: Three baked salmon tacos (which include 5 oz. of salmon total), topped with Mrs. Dash, lemon, pepper, fresh lime juice, shredded kale massaged with spray-on olive oil), all on three small corn tortillas. I also enjoy a Sparkling Ice drink.

  • Snacks: Two slices of whole wheat toast with 2 tbsp of peanut butter and a cup of fresh blueberries and/or a Premier Protein drink.

  • Dinner: Boiled okra, sautéed portobello mushrooms, and baked chicken (I add brown rice depending on my exercise schedule).

  • Dessert: Oikos 100-calorie Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries and chia seeds or a chocolate Think protein bar.

I started my weight loss journey in September of 2018 and did not start exercising until December 2018.

When I started exercising, I had the accountability of a fitness trainer. And at first, it was an emotional experience for me. I felt ashamed that I struggled with most of the exercises. I felt like I was too young to be having these problems.

But I felt better seeing other ladies show up to the sessions, and I grew a bond with them. It changed from me feeling alone to feeling surrounded with friends. Now, I work out three to five days a week doing HIIT workouts, and I typically start my mornings with light cardio.

These three changes helped me see the most noticeable results in my weight loss.

  • Change one: I started tracking everything. Tracking is just documentation of where you are and allows you to identify three things: your starting point, a plan to reach your goals, and any habits that are not working. It led to me creating a free e-book called Six Habits for Weight Loss.

  • Change two: I worked on self-affirmations. We tend to naturally find ways to validate negative thoughts through our actions, thus reinforcing our beliefs. If we focus on positive thoughts, then we will find ways to validate those thoughts.

  • Change three: I spent time reflecting. Answering reflective questions on a regular basis encouraged me to do two things: (1) Acknowledge and celebrate my wins, especially those non-scale victories; and (2) identify and plan for ways to pivot. Paying attention to what’s not working allowed me to come back to the drawing board to revise until I got in a groove that worked for me.

I’ve lost a total of 85 pounds in a year and a half.

While many stories on the internet glamorize a quick weight loss strategy, I can’t share in that discussion. I had underlying health issues that needed to be addressed along the way. I invested my time, money, and energy in a healthy and reliable support system. I consistently showed up for myself and applied the information I was taught to achieve lifestyle changes.

The one consistent theme everyone discussed with me was sustainability. I specifically remember having a conversation with my physician about developing healthy habits that were sustainable because my transformation was going to be a lifelong commitment if I wanted to maintain it.

I remember five years ago, I struggled to complete a hike up the stairs at Amicalola Falls State Park in north Georgia. It was such a beautiful place but I couldn’t enjoy it because I wasn’t healthy enough. I recently went back to Amicalola Falls this past May. There was a huge difference in my experience after shedding 85 pounds. I was able to focus on enjoying the experience rather than worry and stress about my health. I think that experience cast a light on how my life has changed overall after my weight loss transformation. I can now enjoy and appreciate the privileges of being in good health.

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