After years of trying to lose weight, Marla had given up. Her scale was gathering dust. Her health was worsening, and she felt powerless to change it.
Then she watched — three times in a row — The Magic Pill. This popular Netflix documentary showed people’s health and weight transform because of a ketogenic diet. She was astounded and fascinated. She and her husband started the keto diet the next day.
Now more than five years later, Marla has successfully lost 45 pounds (20 kilos) and kept it off. She’s reversed her prediabetes, improved her sleep, and eliminated her joint pain. She feels the best she’s felt in years.
“I cannot say enough about all the positive results from sticking to my ketogenic way of life. I love myself, I love my image in the mirror, and I love my energy level.”
Here is Marla’s story, which has been edited.
What is your name, your age, and where do you live?
I’m Marla, age 67, and I live in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa.
When and how did you find the keto diet?
It was April Fool’s Day, 2017.
Up until then, over the previous decade, I had tried literally everything to lose weight. Pills, shots, Medifast. I even earned a big ole’ gold key in a Weight Watchers meeting after one year of torture counting points.
I followed the expensive, gross-tasting Nutrisystem. I always kept a supply of Slim Fast shakes in my pantry. My freezer had those tiny-portioned diet microwave meals. I was drinking diet sodas, diet tea, and diet juice. I thought I was doing it right, but I was doing everything wrong. Everything.
By April 2017, I’d given up. My scale was covered in dust and stored away. My mirrors were small and very few, and of course, no one was allowed to take my picture from the neck down.
That day I watched the documentary The Magic Pill. It was fascinating! And then I watched it again. And then I got my husband to watch it with me. I watched it three times in a row. I couldn’t believe it, but it intrigued me. Little did I know how important this information would be for our success in following the ketogenic lifestyle.
My husband and I started the keto diet the next day. We did think about every choice, but I wouldn’t say we over-thought it. The food choices are simple, so our grocery list was small — loads of eggs, bacon, meats, and greens.
What health or weight problems did you have before starting keto?
I weighed 205 pounds (93 kilos) on my 5’7” (170 cm) frame, which put me in the obese category. I was prediabetic, and my joints hurt. I had low energy, sleepless nights, and digestive issues.
I thought it was normal at my age to shop for clothes in the women’s plus sizes. But I hated the clothes because most were ugly and never looked flattering on my body shape. I felt like an apple.
I felt old and ugly, and my future looked miserable.
What appealed to you about eating a keto diet?
It totally fits my tastes, and it was so easy. My husband liked it, too, so we could do it together.
When I started, I didn’t love cooking, so it had to be simple. It had to fit our lifestyle. I learned to tweak my old favorite recipes. I made mistakes along the way, but I finally learned to love and take pride in yummy keto creations. Pinterest was very helpful.
Typically we would eat eggs, bacon, meats, whole fats, dairy, and green veggies.
I had to learn exactly what a carb was. Then I started relearning how good I can feel by simply following the keto protocol. I had to get rid of all the temptations lurking in the cabinets, like crackers, chips, cereals, junk oils, anything with sugars, and all fast foods.
We kept a “do-not-eat” carb food list handy, so we didn’t need to second guess ourselves. We had grandkids in the same house, so navigating around their eating habits was tricky. They laughed at us at first. But now they respect us more because of it.
I watched a lot of keto experts on YouTube. I found many people in keto communities who also struggled with their weight. My favorite people to follow are straight talkers like Dr. Ken Berry, Dr. Boz, Dr. Eric Wesman, Casey Durango, and Dr. Jason Fung. I also followed keto cooking experts.
I read Dr. Berry’s book Lies My Doctor Told Me and Dr. Annette Bozworth’s Any Way You Can, and I got my daily dose of “Go Keto With Casey” on YouTube.
I found my tribe! It was a new group of like-minded people, and I knew it would change my future.
I stuck to the basics of a low carb. I ate only 20 total grams of carbs a day, moderately high protein, and higher natural fats.
What health and weight improvements did you experience after starting keto?
I quickly lost 50 pounds (23 kilos) in eight months. I only experienced one physical issue, and that was when I added MCT oil. That made me very ill (because I don’t have a gallbladder). Other than that, I feel great at 67.
I went from a women’s size 18 to 20 to a size 8 to 10. My joint pain, sleep, digestive issues, and energy all improved immensely. I reversed my prediabetes and felt 10 years younger, or even better than 10 years, because I was fat and slow 10 years ago.
Now, after more than five years, I have settled on a very comfortable loss of a total of 45 pounds (20 kilos) and been able to maintain that and keep it stable.
What other benefits have you experienced?
I used to hate to cook, but my desire to follow keto, be healthy, and keep this weight off has made me a great cook! I love creating easy and tasty recipes, and I’ve discovered that my close friends enjoy my efforts, too.
I made many new friends in the keto community and have inspired my family and friends to try it. I cook for people to show them how simple and delicious keto food can be. It’s a great way to make new friends and spread this great news about the ketogenic way of life.
I’ve shopped with family and friends and encouraged them to read the ingredients. I feel like a coach. I teach them how deceiving food companies can be. Some listened and succeeded. But sadly, many gave up, and they are still sick, fat, and struggling. People my age will either commit to this and do well or give up and go back to rapid aging and misery.
I was encouraged to start a Facebook page called “Simply Keto With Marla.” I have about 60 people who now follow me.
I share my success and failures with my keto group and keep busy educating myself, DAILY!
Do you do any intermittent fasting?
Yes. Recently, I decided to cut out one meal — breakfast — which puts me in a natural 18-hour fast.
This fast means that every day, I naturally jumpstart my metabolism by fasting. And I feel great doing it.
What Diet Doctor recipes or resources are your favorites?
Diet Doctor is a great resource for everything. There are so many helpful experts and great recipes. I just tell people to google “Diet Doctor” for an answer to any of their questions.
What are your top three tips for people starting a keto diet?
- Commit for two weeks, no cheating.
- Read all ingredient labels.
- Educate yourself about what a carbohydrate really is.
Do you sometimes “cheat” or eat higher carb treats?
No. Cheating is not part of my life plan. I always say the following:
- I don’t cheat on my husband because I believe in my marriage vows (after 51 years)!
- I don’t cheat on my Christian faith because I believe in God’s love and power in me.
- I don’t cheat on keto because I believe it keeps me healthy and strong.
I don’t feel a need to apologize for skipping birthday cake and ice cream or avoiding fast food, junk food, and holiday treats. For parties and celebrations, I usually take my own treats, with enough to share.
I try very hard to be kind in the face of all the criticism and ignorance about keto. Most people won’t argue because they see me as a success story.
After five and a half years on the keto diet, I cannot say enough about all the positive results I’ve enjoyed from sticking to my ketogenic way of life. I love myself, I love my image in the mirror, and I love my energy level.
Thank you for sharing your five years of success, and renewed vigor for life, Marla. We are so glad your eyes were opened to the possibilities of the keto diet through The Magic Pill documentary, and you found so many other supportive resources, such as Diet Doctor.
Now you are spreading the word and supporting others. Keep up the great work.
~ Anne Mullens