I Lost 200lbs With a Simple Diet That Anyone Can Do

I’m a mother of nine children. And I’m a dance mom—most of my kids dance. So we were—and still are—a crazy busy family when I began my weight loss journey. Life is chaos, but it’s exactly what I love. I’m a people person and I like to talk.

I have had eight pregnancies and two miscarriages. I’ve also adopted one of my children. I got married young, and for more than 20 years of my adult life—almost all of it—I was either pregnant or breastfeeding. I love it. I love babies and being a mom. It’s joyful and rewarding.

But I didn’t take great care of myself. With every baby, I would gain 25 to 30lbs, maybe more. And then once I’d had the baby, I would keep gaining weight. I didn’t ever lose the weight after my pregnancies. I got really, really big.

With my last baby, number nine, I decided to go ahead and get pregnant even though I wasn’t able to lose weight. I kept trying to get under 300lbs to feel more healthy, but I just couldn’t do it.

So, I thought: “Well, I’m 40 years old, this is my last chance if I want one more baby. I’ll just go for it and hope that everything works out.”

It was really scary. I ballooned, gaining so much weight that I got up to 374lbs by the time I had my son. My blood pressure went through the roof, and I had to be induced three weeks early so he could be born and I could get on medication. I was in a dangerous situation.

I know it wasn’t the best choice to have a child then. But when you’re a mom you do anything for your kids and you in sacrifice your own life for them. It’s really hard not to do that even when you know that you need to take care of yourself.

But I knew it was time to think about my health and being around for my kids to grow up, and to see my grandkids. I should have thought about those things all along, but I was caught up in my mom life and just forgot about me life.

As before, I hadn’t lost any of the baby weight. It was December 2016. I was 374lbs and absolutely miserable. I couldn’t do a good job as a mom and I couldn’t be there for my kids. I was really depressed.

I was eating whatever I could get my hands on that had sugar in it. I was eating entire 6-pack boxes of full-size donuts at night and drinking a 64-ounce Coke. I could eat a 5lbs bag of gummy bears in a couple of days.

My blood pressure was ridiculous. It was so high that I was in serious danger of hospitalization. I was so desperate, but I couldn’t find any answers and I felt like there weren’t any. Losing the weight seemed impossible, and I feared getting the point when would need to hire home health to take care of me.

So, I got serious about finding a solution. At first, I looked into gastric bypass surgery; the sleeve surgery; the balloon inside your stomach surgery. But people have died from having those surgeries. There are too many risks. I knew surgery wasn’t for me.

Eventually, I found my solution. It breathed new life into me and gave me hope. My weight loss journey finally started on January 1, 2017, when I weighed 374lbs. By October 2019, less than three years later, I had lost 200lbs.

I achieved the weight loss through a calorie-cutting ketogenic diet, where I minimized my carb intake and focused on healthy fats and protein. My target calories when eating in deficit was 1,300. It’s not a fad diet. It’s a way of eating that I found highly sustainable.

I’d never heard of keto before until a mom I was talking to on Facebook mentioned it to me when I told her I was eating only lean meat and vegetables. I was floored when she introduced me to a keto community online. My prayers were answered.

Keto is fundamentally low-carb eating. It’s about putting your body into a state of ketosis, so that you are burning your fat stores instead of sugars for energy. You limit your carbohydrate intake to basically starve yourself of glucose.

I measured my “macros”—macronutrients such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates and so on—that I should consume each day in grams to make sure I was consuming the right amount of each to enter ketosis.

What you can eat is pretty simple to understand. It’s basically any type of meat, cheeses—though watch the carb count, especially on things like cottage cheese—plain yoghurt with live cultures, leafy greens, avocado, broccoli, zucchini, squash—anything that’s low in carbohydrates.

Eat fruits sparingly as they can contain a lot of carbohydrates. Berries are the lowest carb fruits out there. Nuts are also OK, though they are high in fats and calories, so you need to be careful when keeping track of your macros.

Foods you can’t have are rice, bread, potatoes, and those big root vegetables of any kind. But first among all of those is sugar. I loved sugar, but two weeks off of it made me a whole different person. You won’t even know yourself. It’s like stepping out of a fog into a beautiful sunlit room.

I’d suggest avoiding fake desserts or “keto-friendly” flours. They’re only going to lead you back down the slippery slope. Don’t bake or make bread. Stick to whole foods with a low-carb emphasis.

Anyone can do this. It’s overwhelming at first, and those initial couple of weeks are tough, especially if you’re coming off a lot of sugar like I did. But it’s totally doable.

I didn’t have a gym membership. The only exercise I really did was going hiking with my kids or walking around amusement parks on trips out. But I just naturally became more and more active as I lost the weight.

As I became lighter, I felt it itching in my body to move. I was more active because I wanted to be—it’s fun. Before I lost the weight, I could barely move up the stairs. Now I run up them.

I tried other things that I have documented on my YouTube channel, Keto in the Chaos. like intermittent fasting and managing my electrolytes, as well as talking about the emotional ups and downs of this journey.

I was overjoyed and felt like a long-time coming when I hit the 200lbs lost mark, but also a little weirded out. I was surprised by my reaction.

I had a lot of emotions in those couple of days. They were all over the place. I don’t know if it was because it felt like my journey was over, or because I had to evaluate where my life was going from there.

I had to do a lot of soul-searching when I had expected to feel chill and happy. Still, I was so excited and proud of myself for what I had achieved.

Once I’d lost those 200lbs, I moved onto a maintenance keto diet to keep my weight at a level I was happy with. I was really looking forward to moving to that next phase in my weight loss journey.

Maintaining the weight loss was the scariest bit. Losing weight is only part of the battle. Keeping it off is even harder.

I had lost inches around my arms, waist and thighs. I had some loose skin and belly rolls after the weight loss, but overall I was pretty happy with how I looked and felt, and I wasn’t looking to lose any more.

I took a break that fall to eat some comfort food, including more fat. But I stayed on my keto diet. I was just experimenting a little with calories and my macros to see where my body was happy and my weight remained stable.

In the past when I lost weight, every time I moved onto maintenance calories, I put on 15 to 20lbs of water weight. I was really trying to avoid that again. So one of my goals was to figure out if I could eat more carbs without my body exiting ketosis.

I was nervous about the loose skin as I approached my 200lbs lost. I had a lot of comments that made me feel like people didn’t want to see my loose skin and that I should be ashamed or embarrassed about it, or that it wasn’t Christian to show my body in a bikini.

I was hurt that people were not interested in seeing what I looked like or that I should hide my loose skin. I prayed over it a lot and came to the conclusion that Jesus doesn’t mind if I show my loose skin and how I look to the world so people can get an idea of what it might be like if they lose weight.

I was looking for videos like that in the past, so I wanted to add to the ones that are out there and give another perspective. A lot of the videos I’d seen had people with more loose skin than I have.

I literally lost an obese human from my body, which is crazy. I can’t even imagine strapping a 200lbs person on my back and walking around.

Eventually, I decided I wanted to have plastic surgery to remove the loose skin, including a tummy tuck. I didn’t have any health reasons to do it, I just wanted to be rid of the loose skin. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Since then, I’ve been dealing with lipedema and lymphedema, which have caused fatty build-ups and fluid retention in my legs, and I’m going through perimenopause. And I’ve struggled to keep up with a strict keto diet because of some financial issues, so we had to do what we could to get by.

As a result, I’ve put weight on amid these issues and am back in the low 200lbs. But I am trying to get into keto again and get below 200lbs, and I’m tracking my journey on YouTube once more.

I’m still proud of where I got to. My life changed so much by losing the weight and I gained a freedom that is indescribable.

Tamra Hyde talks about her weight loss journey on her YouTube channel, Keto in the Chaos.

All views expressed are the author’s own.

Do you have a unique experience or personal story to share? Email the My Turn team at [email protected].

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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