He Lost 85 Pounds on Keto and Gained a Whole Community
When Steven Downer of Austin, Texas found himself at his highest weight a year and a half ago, he knew it was time to make some lifestyle changes. He and his wife had recently become first-time parents which caused him to think about his own upbringing. And at 320 pounds, Steven realized that he was ready to become more fit, not only for his own health, but to become a positive role model for his son as well.
Raised by his grandfather, Steven shared that he didn’t really have a role model for living an active or healthy lifestyle in his formative years. So when he became a father himself, he realized that he needed to make some healthy changes. But, as most folks who want to lose weight know all too well, he found that it wasn’t as simple as just deciding it to be so. He bounced around from app to app, each one promising to be the ultimate guide to help him lose weight, but he wasn’t finding much success. That is, until he decided to go all-in on keto.
Steven had dabbled in the low-carb, high-fat diet in the past and had found some success in the short term. But, when he decided to fully commit to the ketogenic lifestyle about a year and half ago, that was when he found the most success with sustainable weight loss. It also didn’t hurt that a few of his friends were interested in starting keto at that time, too, so they all decided to do it together and boost each others’ motivation. This has been especially important for his long-term commitment, as Steven notes it can sometimes be difficult to blend a social life with the keto diet.
“You really have to plan ahead,” he advises, noting that going out to eat or just grabbing a drink with friends on-the-fly can be a little tricky. “I’m used to it now, but it definitely represents a struggle.”
With the keto diet, the goal is to obtain more of your calories from protein and fat and less from carbohydrates, which puts your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. When this occurs, the body switches from burning sugar to burning fat for fuel, ultimately resulting in weight loss. Because the ketogenic lifestyle often involves making substitutions to boost a meal’s fat while minimizing carbs, it can entail a good deal of getting creative in the kitchen. That’s part of the reason why Steven began his own website, Chicken and Chaffles (those are keto-friendly “waffles” made of cheese and eggs, for those not in-the-know).
He wanted a space to share a bit about his journey and pass along some helpful resources for keto beginners and vets alike. But he was also really tired — as we all surely are — of searching for recipes and then having to scroll through endless commentary and ads just to find the information he needed. Steven’s site cuts through all that noise to deliver tried-and-true recipes — like Keto Cheesecake and Keto Cubano Pizza — that are straight-to-the-point and easy to follow, telling you exactly what you need and how to make it, without all the fluff. He also conveniently includes the macros you need to know to fit that recipe into the carb, fat, and calorie goals of your daily keto diet.
Once Steven had a good handle on the foods that would properly fuel his system toward healthy weight loss, he began to pick up other healthy habits, too. He started to add more physical activity to his routine by trying out some exercise programs and different fitness challenges to push himself out of his comfort zone. He admits that he’s never been great at cardio, so he wanted to set a goal for himself to run a mile under eight minutes.
“The first one I tried was pushing close to 12 minutes,” he shared. “[But] I was able to chip away at that time over the next two months and got to 7:56. From there, I tried to run further and keep a steady pace.”
Steven’s advice to others who are hoping to get on the path toward a more active lifestyle is to just start small. He admits that he didn’t really know where to start when it came to working out, so he created his own push-up challenge. He began with just five push-ups, then added two more each consecutive day until he was doing more than 60. Along the way, he layered in a sit-up challenge as well, and ultimately developed a steady workout routine. Sometimes, his young son will even join in and do some push-ups with him, potentially learning some fun fitness habits as he enjoys quality time with his dad.
Steven’s weight loss began fairly quickly once he started keto, which tends to be pretty common for newbies. The trick, however, is to maintain that loss over time. The bulk of Steven’s weight loss occurred in his first eight months, but he says that he has since been able to maintain that weight for much longer. He credits some of his continued success to finding a supportive keto community on Instagram, as well as his podcast Just Add Butter, where he and his co-host Brian discuss keto, weight loss, and how to stay on track when life tries to throw you off course. Most of all, though, he believes that his weight loss success is the result of finally addressing his emotional relationship with food.
“I’d eat when I was stressed or unhappy to get that little endorphin hit,” he admits. “It was temporary and fleeting and something I would always chase.”
Today, Steven weighs around 235 pounds — a loss of about 85 pounds overall — and is focused on sustaining his new lifestyle and the healthy habits he’s picked up in the last couple of years. He also recognizes that overall health is far more important than just the number on the scale.
“Weight loss isn’t a straight line,” he reminds anyone feeling discouraged on their own weight loss journey. “You’ll have days where you stall or gain, [but] the number on the scale doesn’t define you.”
For anyone hoping to jumpstart their own weight loss, Steven’s suggestion is two-fold. First, he recommends finding the reason why you want to lose weight, as focusing on that will help you stay committed and ultimately be more successful. And once you’re committed to your “why,” make sure to plan ahead, especially if you’re trying out a diet like keto that requires a precise balance of macronutrients each day. Tracking your food for a week before you start — he suggests using an app like Carb Manager — will help you figure out where you need to adjust your macros. Then, you can plan your menu ahead of time to take the number-crunching out of the equation and have more time to focus on incorporating activity into your healthy lifestyle, too.
That said, the ketogenic diet is not necessarily for everyone. Because of it’s high fat content, it’s not something you’ll want to try without a doctor’s supervision if you have health concerns such as high blood sugar or a history of heart disease. However, if you’re in relatively good health and your doc gives you the go-ahead, it just might be the sustainable weight loss solution to fit your needs.
No matter what path you choose to take, however, Steven offers a simple mantra to keep you committed and connected when the road gets tough:
“Find your people, find your support. [And] believe in yourself.”
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