by Linda Burklin
Three years ago, I ended up in the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.
As I was going through the admission process, the nurse asked me, “Did you know you are diabetic? And that you have sky-high blood pressure?”
Well, I didn’t know—but I wasn’t surprised, either.
I’ve been morbidly obese for my entire adult life—almost forty years, despite many rigorous diets.
Both of my parents have high blood pressure, and I had gestational diabetes during my last two pregnancies. When I survived my appendectomy, they sent a “diabetes educator” to talk to me about diet. I was told to eat about 150 grams of carbs a day. I was also started on blood pressure meds, Metformin, and 30 units of insulin a day.
Fast forward to a year and a half later. I worked very hard at keeping my blood sugar under control, but I now needed 170 units of insulin a day—plus 2,000 mg of Metformin, 5 mg of Glyburide, and double the blood pressure meds I started with.
I had failed at losing any weight (despite valiant efforts) and still weighed over 300 pounds.
At my regular checkup in February of 2017, I asked why I now needed so much insulin. The response changed my life: “Because your pancreas is wearing out.”
Guess what? You only get one pancreas. I spent two days researching how to revive my pancreas, and on the third day I started my very low carb “pancreas rescue plan.” My primary goal was to cut my insulin in half. To accomplish this,
I made an ironclad commitment to myself that I would do “whatever it takes for as long as it takes.” Period.
Three weeks later I was able to eliminate insulin and have never needed it since. One month after that, I cut all my prescription meds in half.
Then I added fasting to my bag of tricks. I started fasting every other day, but eventually worked up to longer fasts of three, five, or seven days. Thanks to my extremely messed-up metabolism, I didn’t see truly stellar results with my blood sugar until the fourth or fifth day of a fast.
I continued to research and to refine my ketogenic diet. Fasting soon seemed normal, and to be honest, it was a relief not to have to worry about food after a lifetime of food addiction.
I lost 50 pounds in the first five months, but after that, my efforts to lose weight slowed considerably. Despite never cheating, I gained a few pounds in February of this year—something that has happened with every diet I have ever tried.
I knew I needed to step up my fasting game because I refuse to ever go back to where I was.
Since March, I have been doing a series of extended fasts, from five to seven days, with just a meal or two in between. Most people don’t have to take such extreme measures, but I do. Remember, I committed to doing whatever it takes for as long as it takes! I also starting walking in the evenings and acquired an exercise bike-desk.
I now weigh less than I did at my wedding back in 1981. And, I have been completely medication-free for several months.
On May 26, 2018, I hit the magic milestone of 101 pounds lost which means I am no longer obese—just overweight.
Since then, I’ve lost another nine pounds for a total of 110.
My doctor (actually, a nurse practitioner) is THRILLED with my progress and results. At my last visit she couldn’t stop raving about it. She said,
“You have gone from an out-of-control diabetic to completely turning your life around!”
Since all of my previous heroic weight-loss efforts had failed, when I first started this journey of low-carb eating and intermittent fasting, I didn’t believe this kind of success was possible for me. But it was! I did it!
And though I still have another 20 pounds to lose, this time I know I can do it. Because I have never in my adult life not started regaining the weight I lost by this point.
I now know that I can use fasting to stay where I am and more fasting to blast through a plateau.
Fasting doesn’t scare me because I know that for me, it’s been the most effective weapon in my weight-loss arsenal.
My top weight-loss tips:
- Go low carb/keto BEFORE you attempt any form of intermittent or extended fasting. If you’re still eating a high-carbohydrate diet, you’ll be ravenous!
- If you are diabetic and haven’t been significantly restricting your carbs, you will need to test your blood sugar very often—like once an hour—once you start eating low carb. Your insulin needs will plummet and you need to make sure you don’t get too low. Medical supervision would be preferable, in fact.
- Write a list of other things to do when you’re tempted to eat. Always ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry? Or do I just want to eat?” And remember, hunger pangs fade quite quickly.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. Not only do they trigger an insulin response in your body, but they keep you addicted to all the high-carb foods you’re trying to avoid. Look up keto recipes online, but avoid the ones that are just artificially-sweetened versions of decadent desserts.
- Books to read: The Obesity Code* and The Complete Guide to Fasting* by Jason Fung.
- When you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself, remember: You are saving your own life.
Linda Burklin has been a storyteller and writer since childhood. Raised primarily in Africa, she wrote for and edited her college newspaper for two years while earning her English degree. Writing took a back seat during the years she was raising and home-educating her seven children. For nineteen years, she has taught writing classes to her own and other homeschooled children, and authored the Story Quest creative writing curriculum. She has maintained a daily blog for 13 years, had several short stories published, and has written a memoir (This Rich & Wondrous Earth), and seven novels. Her passion is speculative fiction.