My name is Brandi Twitchell (@stardustandmoxie). I'm 40 years old and a massage therapist from Utah. I decided to eat a low-carb, high-protein diet and get into an exercise routine after learning I could be on the path toward health issues. I've lost 85 pounds and feel better than ever.
© Brandi Twitchell
Brandi T. learned she was prediabetic and had high blood pressure. She used a carb counter app to track her food intake, exercised regularly, and lost weight.
I have always struggled with emotional eating. I would eat when I was happy, eat when I was sad, and eat when I was bored. Food has always been a comfort for me.
At age 32, after having my children, my weight went up to 240 pounds, and it remained roughly the same for 11 years. I'd tried to lose weight many times, but the most I ever lost during those years was around 20 pounds.
About a year ago, I learned I had prediabetes. That was exactly the wake up call I needed.
My father has diabetes, and I told myself there is no way I would allow that to happen to me. I would do everything in my power to prevent it. I would not head down a path toward disease. I began to have serious talks with myself, as silly as that sounds, and I told myself that no matter how long it takes, I won't stop working on my health.
Shortly after learning of my prediabetes, I was back at the doctor, and this time I was informed that my blood pressure was sky high. I was prescribed medication but I was not willing to accept my current health condition. I knew that my children needed a healthy mother, and I needed to be a better example of how to love yourself. So, I decided to start caring about me.
I was turning 39, and I told myself that I'd be fit by 40. I turned “Fit by 40” into a little motto.
In September 2019, I started my journey and got back to the gym and changed my diet. I gave myself one year and a realistic goal of losing 50 pounds.
I define my eating plan as low-carb, high-protein. I began by counting calories but realized quickly that it didn't work for me. While counting calories does absolutely work for some people, counting carbs worked better for me.
I started eating about 150 grams of carbs a day then slowly reduced my carb intake to about 30 to 80 grams. I started using the MyFitnessPal app to help me track my food, and I don't think I would have been so successful without tracking. You don't realize how much you are actually eating until you start tracking it.
Counting carbs helped me dramatically cut back on sugar. Sugar is so addictive for me, and I would crave it all the time. I was completely hooked on soda as well, and I would suffer migraines without it. I also craved starchy foods constantly, like French fries and bread. The low-carb diet took those foods off the table as an option, and after a few weeks, I stopped craving them. To be clear, I eat those foods every now and then, but food doesn't control me the way it once did!
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I also stopped eating out all the time. I would eat out constantly, at least five days a week. I worked at the airport, surrounded by fast food. French fries, pizza, and soda were my go-to meal. Now, I only eat out roughly twice a month.
Finally, I added much more protein to my diet. I aim for 80 to 100 grams of protein a day, mainly in the form of eggs, nuts, and fish. (I don't eat red meat.) And when I hit a plateau, I do intermittent fasting (16:8) for a week or so, and that seems to help to kick start my weight loss again.
Here’s what I eat in a day.
- Breakfast: Two to three whole eggs with cheese and avocado or hot sauce and green tea.
- Lunch: Organifi meal replacement shake.
- Snacks: Peanuts, cheese sticks, almonds, or peanut butter and celery.
- Dinner: Grilled salmon salad with chipotle ranch dressing.
- Dessert: Berries! Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries or raspberries.
I started exercising on day one of my health journey.
For the first few months, I worked out three to four days a week. But now, I work out five to six days a week. I feel much better mentally if I've worked out for the day. Exercise brings me clarity.
I started out with 30 minutes of weights and 30 minutes of cardio, which gradually turned into longer sessions. These days, I usually do 45 minutes of weights and 60 minutes of cardio. I use the elliptical and the stair climber most often, along with the row machine.
You don't need fancy workouts or equipment to see results—just dedication and your favorite music! I think the more you enjoy something, the more likely you are to stick with it. I also got a smart watch, which helped me tremendously by reminding me to get up and move!
I've lost 85 pounds in 13 months.
Losing weight will not make you happy. Your size or number on the scale should not determine your happiness. I mention this because, like many people, it's something I struggle with too. I constantly try to remind myself it's more important to be healthy than it is to be thin. I want to be able to live a long life and experience as much as I can. I feel the best way to do that is by continuing to make positive health choices.
The journey of losing weight is so much more than physical. It forces you to ask yourself tough questions and to search for answers that may be difficult to face. It can be mentally exhausting and overwhelming, and there will be many times you feel like quitting. Don't give up—you are stronger than you know. This process has changed my life because I realized that I am worth it.
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