Nikki Mahoney is a true keto success story.
You can see just from the smile on Nikki’s face that the keto lifestyle has made her all the more happier.
An incredible 60kgs gone and a swag of improved health benefits has all come from following the ketogenic diet.
Read how Nikki came to learn about the keto diet and how she changed her lifestyle with support of friends and family members.
Thank you Nikki for sharing part of your journey with us.
WHERE DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT THE KETO LIFESTYLE?
At the start of 2017 two of my friends started on their own Keto journey. My best friend told me about it after she had been doing it for a few weeks. We live in different states and when I finally got to see her 3 months in, I couldn’t believe the change in her. I started asking more questions about how the ketogenic diet works.
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUR EATING FAT TO LOSE WEIGHT?
When my friend told me that keto was low carb and high fat, I told her to be careful. I was sceptical and said it sounded unhealthy.
Everything we have been told our whole lives about a good, healthy diet was the exact opposite of what she was doing. I tried to check in on her and make sure she was being sensible, but in the end the results spoke for themselves. For a long time eating fat to lose weight felt like this black box solution. I read as much as I could about the process and have learned a lot. Learning to trust the ketogenic diet and my own experience has taught me just how important eating high fat is to feeling satisfied.
Tell me a little about yourself and why you decided to make a change to your health and change to a keto lifestyle?
I have been overweight pretty much my entire life. Also just to make it harder to lose weight I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
I had tried so many different ways to lose weight and nothing worked, not long term at least. Everything I did try that had success short term was unsustainable. If I was losing weight, I was constantly hungry. As soon as I would have one cheat meal, it would lead to a spiral and I would be back where I started.
Previously, I had lost a fair amount of weight in my very early 20s, but then it all came back on plus more. During that period I was eating nothing but vegetables or salad and fairly plain meat. I was so strict on my half an hour of high intensity cardio a day, usually on the exercise bike which I hated. I certainly wasn’t enjoying myself!
In 2011 I was involved in a car accident, and my resulting injuries changed everything about my life. It was a struggle to sit, stand or lie down for more than 10 minutes at a time. I couldn’t exercise, I could barely manage to cook or clean, and everything was hard. From that point on I was steadily putting on weight. By the start of 2017 I had reached 144kg. I wasn’t happy, I knew that wasn’t safe, but I honestly didn’t know what to do about it.
When I saw the success my friends were having I knew I had nothing to lose by giving this a go.
At what point did you finally decide it was time to start losing weight and getting healthier?
I feel like “deciding to start losing weight and getting healthier” has been a constant thought in my life. It has never been something that hasn’t been a consideration in my adult life. As I mentioned I had tried Weight Watchers, following the standard diet, calorie counting, seeing a nutritionist.
I was always active prior to my car accident, and I was always trying to eat healthy. Playing basketball once a week, trained twice a week and danced, yet I was still overweight. I’m just incredibly lucky my friends found Keto and introduced me to it when they did. I really am terrified to think where I would have been now if it wasn’t for that. I’ve been following the ketogenic diet for close to 2 years now and it has saved my life.
Before I started I asked a lot of questions about this way of eating, to make sure it was safe. I didn’t want to embark on something that would make my situation worse. I read everything I could get my hands on, learned the science behind it and found out that my friends doctor was on board. That was really the deciding factor for me, if there were doctors supporting this lifestyle then it must be safe enough to try.
When I started I asked my friends about pretty much every meal I was going to eat. I swear I must have asked them 20 questions a day every day. I’m so glad they were so patient with me because having someone experienced to help me gave me the great start I needed. It didn’t feel so overwhelming then.
What types of struggles have you dealt with while trying to lose weight? What have been your greatest obstacles?
Sugar addiction is my greatest obstacle. It has always been my downfall and no matter how well I am doing on Keto, it still is. It never goes away. Even on Keto when you aren’t eating sugar. I find that if I am eating compliant green list sweets it still triggers that craving and I know I eat too many in one sitting or on successive days. Don’t get me wrong I still indulge. It is something I have to be very mindful of and set myself targets. I go one or two weeks without anything sweet, or restricting it to just once a week so it doesn’t get out of control.
I think I lasted 16 months without having anything that was non-compliant, not even one piece of chocolate. That was hard. And then over Christmas when I did succumb. I found I was straight back into that addictive behaviour, justifying just one more or just one more day. Of course it never was, and I have had to work hard to break that addiction again. I have come to realise I am addicted to sugar and I can’t go back to it because it is so hard to stop. The longer I go without it the easier it is to resist it though.
What goals did you achieve this past year?
I have achieved so many amazing things in the past year. I have achieved goals on and off the scales. Now under 80kg for the first time possibly in my adult life with a 60kg weight loss.
I was able to go on a plane and not need a seatbelt extender. Now, I don’t have to worry about whether I’m too heavy to go on a trampoline or if a chair will hold me. I’ve been able to dance a lot better and a lot more often. Dancing was one of the things I missed most from my pre-car accident life and Keto has given that back to me.
Maybe my biggest achievement was starting my own blog outlining my personal experience of weight loss. There is so much amazing info out there on how to be successful on Keto that I didn’t think I needed to address that. Instead my blog looks at the emotional rollercoaster that is losing a significant amount of weight.
I’m hoping that I’ve been able to help other people through this. I’ve also helped a number of people get their own Keto journey underway, and I’ve seen them have great success. I absolutely love that I can help other people experience the life change that I have. My blog is nicketoblog.com
What struggles have you had this past year?
This past year has been tough for a few reasons that I won’t go into here, and there have been times where I’ve found it hard to stick to Keto.
I’ve always stayed compliant on the savoury side, but sweets were my weakness. When everyone around me was indulging in the foods I used to love, I found it very hard to stay strong and say no. There were many times where I didn’t stay strong and gave in to temptation. I mentally wasn’t in the right place to make the right choices.
Over the Christmas period I put back on 7kg and I am working really hard to lose that weight again. I am certainly back on the right path.
I am proud though (and yes this is a small victory) that I didn’t fall completely off the wagon and I always stayed compliant on the savoury front.
What specific changes have you made that are working for you?
For the first 15 months of doing Keto I was so so strict. I counted my macros for the first 3 months, every single thing I ate went into a calculator. This was a great way for me to learn what makes up these macros and what and how much I can eat.
If there is something I’m unsure about I still will enter it into an app to check, however this is pretty rare now.
I make everything from scratch, and this way I know exactly what I am eating. This has gotten me off to an amazing start! I have learned exactly what I should be doing and what worked best for me. It allows me to lose a lot of weight quickly and to start feeling healthy really quickly as well.
Once you start seeing those results it becomes much easier to stick to it and realise it’s a lifestyle change and not a temporary measure to lose weight. There really is nothing better than feeling healthy.
How did you manage to alter your eating patterns and accommodate the rest of your family?
Luckily (???) I’m single, so the only person I had to worry about was me. This did make things easier. I removed all the non-compliant food in my house. Things were much easier if there wasn’t food there to tempt me.
I started to consciously identify whether I was actually hungry, eating because of some emotion, or eating because I was bored. Learning what my hunger signals were and training myself to only eat when truly hungry were key factors in my success.
Another aspect where I have been very lucky is that all of my family, friends and colleagues have been extremely supportive. I have also had fantastic support from my doctors and physio.
My friends and family have been accommodating with eating out at places where I have options to choose from. They also making sure when they cook for me or provide me with meals that it’s all compliant food. They have all tried so hard to understand my new lifestyle and it has made me feel so supported and incredibly lucky.
What is your regular meal plan? Does it include intermittent fasting?
I’ve found that eating my meal at lunchtime works best for me. Most days I eat one meal a day, but on occasion I do eat 2. This is usually if I’m eating out, have commitments such as meeting people, or if my meal earlier hasn’t had enough fat.
I don’t stop myself from eating out, but I try to be prepared and see what my options are before I go.
On weekends I try to keep things simple, I love nothing more than having a nice steak, eggs, broccolini and mushrooms cooked in olive oil and butter on the weekends.
I try to do all of my cooking on the weekends as well for through the week, doing big cook-ups every 3 or 3 weekends and freezing the meals in single serve portions. This way I always have something ready to go and there are no excuses.
By cooking a few sets of meals in one go it also means I have a few different meals to choose from, so I can have variety. So many of my recipes come from Megan, one of my favourites is her chicken korma.
Is it just you, you and your partner, or you and your family that follow this lifestyle? Have your family struggled to accept your new lifestyle?
I live alone, so it’s just me that follows this lifestyle. However so many of my family and friends have adjusted their eating habits based on having seen my success.
There are lots of people who have become more conscious of cutting the carbs down where they can even though they haven’t taken up a keto lifestyle.
A number of my friends have also taken on the keto lifestyle themselves and are having great success. We regularly swap recipes and help to keep each other motivated.
I’m yet to come across anyone in my life who isn’t supportive of me taking on this lifestyle. I realise how lucky I am in this regard and that a lot of people have a completely different experience. I make sure I am well researched and can answer any questions people may have.
I have also found that most places are more than willing to accommodate my menu changes. Even at a conference I attended recently the organisers made sure they relayed my requirements to the venue and the venue provided me great keto friendly meal options.
What do you want other people who are struggling to lose weight to know?
After such success on the keto diet I find I want to shout from the rooftops that I have found the secret to weight loss. I feel like I know this great secret that I want to share with everyone. Others should know that it doesn’t have to be hard, and you don’t have to be hungry.
People often say to me “oh but I love my carbs too much, I could never give them up”. It is so much easier than you think it will be. There are replacements for all the things you think you’ll miss such as zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice and konjac noodles, even pizza.
Nearly any recipe you have made pre-keto can be adapted so you can still enjoy it. There are plenty of sweets you can have that are compliant and again nearly anything can be replicated.
I never feel like I’m missing out because I’m keto, and I get many many compliments when I bake keto treats and share them around.
People also think keto makes eating out hard. There has only been one time in nearly two years that I can think of where I couldn’t find something on the menu to eat. Planning ahead may make you feel more confident in your choices, so look at the menu before you go if you can. And don’t be afraid to ask for adjustments or substitutions.
What motivates you to continue with this lifestyle?
I had some professional photos taken at the end of last year, and when I’m feeling down or not making much progress I look at how good I look, they help keep me motivated. Before and after photos are such a good reminder of how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved. My favourite pic is me wearing my jeans I had when I first started this way of eating, and now my whole body fits inside one pants leg.
Personally, I don’t ever want to feel how I felt before I started keto. I didn’t even realise how bad I felt, because that was my normal and I had felt like that for so long.
Previously I felt bloated after every meal now I am satisfied. I was always, always hungry and that isn’t fun, whereas now I can go 23 hours (or more) without eating. Now I never worry about getting caught out or being busy and not having access to food, because it just isn’t an issue now. I also love the food. It’s tasty and I have developed a new enjoyment of cooking and trying new recipes.
There is a huge satisfaction in trying something new and realising how delicious it is.
If you could impart some words of wisdom on anyone starting out today what would it be? How can I become my own keto success story?
Just jump straight in! Don’t wait, you wont regret it.
I wish I had found this way of eating years ago. Clear out your cupboard and fridge of non-compliant food if you can. Always have compliant options ready to go so there are no excuses.
If there are people in your household who aren’t following the keto lifestyle you can still do this, either they will quickly realise what delicious food you’re having and be on board, or cook what you normally would and leave the carbs off your plate and add more fat.
You can keep this way of life as simple as you would like. It doesn’t have to be hard, you don’t have to spend hours cooking every day.
It’s going to be cheaper in the long run once you’re fat adapted, as you eat far less food. This way of eating will definitely change your life for the better.
It may take some time to see the change on the scale, but make sure you pay attention to the changes to your health in other ways as well. I found I slept better and had more energy. My head was clearer and brain fog reduced. I have less hunger, less obsessive thoughts about food, a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure. Bloating was a thing of the past within the first couple of weeks. I just generally felt so much better living this healthier lifestyle.
At the end of last year I started a blog: nicketoblog.com
My aim with this blog is to help people to understand how good keto can be for them, and to help them through the mental journey of losing weight. Anyone can have their own keto success story, it just takes the smallest of changes.
I’ve experienced so many ups and downs I never could have predicted. The body dysmorphia, thinking I still look the same as I used to. My self confidence took a hit as well. I assumed losing the weight I would gain self-confidence, but in a lot of ways I haven’t. There are so many more changes than just the physical ones we can see.
If I can help one person to not feel alone in this, like there are people who understand, then I will be very happy.
If you are needing help with starting your keto journey and are ready to make the step, then join us at Mad Creations and/or the 365 where you will have access to meal plans, recipes and macros already calculated, and eBooks for recipes based around many of your favourite meals and foods made low carb. Your own keto success story can start today.
Keto is not essentially a diet it is a lifestyle that many of us find easy to maintain and never feel like we are missing out. There is so much more to life than carbs. Try keto today!