Our Ambassadors Share Their Low Carb Journey With Us – Sarah McLachlan

Tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, your family and work you do?

I’m 28 and a mum of 2 beautiful girls, a 6-year-old and a 17-month-old and married to the only man I ever dated. I’m also one of six children. I’m an Adelaidian, born and bred. I’m qualified as an enrolled nurse, though haven’t worked in the profession yet as I fell pregnant and gave birth to my now 17-month-old part way through my study. I finished my qualification when she was 5 months old.

How did you find out about Thermo Foodie & The Chef?
I joined the Thermo Foodies Facebook group in September 2018 when I searched for low carb Thermomix. I had been looking into LCHF/Keto WOE for months and months after watching my Mum’s success over a couple of years and needed more reasons to use my Thermomix.

What inspired you and made you start on your healthy, low carb journey?
The biggest thing was that my weight was out of control. I was over 150kg and climbing. Also mum was diagnosed with T2DM (diabetes) in March 2015, this of course means that I am at an increased risk of developing T2DM. Reducing that risk was one factor in my decision. Mum started eating keto in January 2016 to avoid being medicated. She’s been diet controlled since August 2016 and lost a significant amount of weight in the process.

I was always curious about keto but had many reservations. As I studied nursing and became educated about diabetes, I was genuinely concerned that people were ‘stupid’ enough to be aiming for ketosis. I eventually learned that ketosis (using fat for fuel rather than glucose) and ketoacidosis (insufficient insulin production) are two very different metabolic states. Once I learned the difference, I started to research ketosis and the ketogenic way of eating. I started reading testimonials and success stories, learning about added health benefits, looking into food alternatives and hunting down recipes.

In September 2018, feeling like I had no further options (because who could give up carbs and sugar? Not me!), I had an appointment to be put onto the public wait list for bariatric surgery. I went into this appointment with a hope of having the option for a gastric sleeve, but during the appointment I was told the most likely option for me was roux-en-y. I left the appointment with my name added, but new motivation to really try my best to achieve sustainable lifestyle changes to not only lose weight and increase my overall health, but also avoid surgery as it is permanent and that terrifies me. (To clarify, I have absolutely nothing against people going down the road of bariatric surgery, I have the utmost respect for people who make such a huge and permanent change to their body to better their health, it’s simply that the idea of changing my body in such a way terrifies me.)

How did you start? (If you started with our free 7-day meal plan, how did that help you?)

In December 2018, weighing in at 152.8kg, I slowly changed my eating, mostly portion sizes and cutting out obvious junk foods. By the start of January 2019, I had lost 4 kg. Seeing the scales change and feeling a little better within myself, I decided to bite the bullet and try the 7-day meal plan. I told hubby that I was giving this a shot, which meant he was going to be eating the dinners that I was. (He could eat whatever crap he wanted for all other meals and snacks). On January 7, 2019 we did our food shop for the 7-day meal plan, I did some meal prep; mayo, bone broth and slicing meats down to what they needed to be for the meals, to freeze and save time later in the week. On January 9 I weighed myself; 147.9kg. By the end of the 7-day meal plan, which I pushed out to 14 days due to recipe portions etc, I weighed 143.8kg. 4 kg in 2 weeks. Clearly this WOE was working! And now, 5 months later I weigh 126.5kg. That’s a massive overall loss of 26.3kg. And it’s still dropping. About half way through completing the meal plan, I loved the recipes so much that I purchased all four books as a bundle and haven’t looked back!

What types of struggles have you dealt with while trying to lose weight? What have been your greatest obstacles or struggles? And how did you overcome them to keep working towards your goals?
I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to lose weight, trying diet after diet, with little to no success. My biggest issue has always been my appetite. It’s always been insatiable. I could eat and eat and eat and feel as though I’d barely had a thing. My dietitian and I decided that I should try a new method surrounding food; rather than searching for the “feeling of fullness”, by eating myself stupid, I started to eat until I no longer felt “hungry”. Which worked to a small degree, but that feeling never lasted long.

I read many testimonials about keto/LCHF claiming that peoples’ appetites reduced significantly on this WOE. I didn’t believe them, it couldn’t be that simple… that was, until I saw the same results myself. It took me only 3 days before I wasn’t finishing meals. I snacked less. I actually felt a feeling I’d not had in years; fullness! It didn’t take long before my body naturally moved towards intermittent fasting. I now fast 16 hours per day, not as a rule, simply because I’m not usually hungry. I eat breakfast around 10am, sometimes later and usually finish dinner before 6pm, purely because I have 2 young children and they’re ready for dinner by 5pm. If I’m hungry outside of these times, of course, I eat, but that’s rarely necessary.

What specific changes have you made that are working for you?
Prior to eating LCHF my average day was full of carbs;

Breakfast was toast with peanut butter, vegemite or jam.

Lunch was a sandwich, usually ham and cheese, sometimes with salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and mayonnaise.

Dinner was usually meat and vegetables; mashed potato, beans, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. Though I often made meals like spaghetti bolognese and shepherd’s pie extended with legumes – kidney beans, lentils or chickpeas. I often extended main meals with pasta, potato or rice.

Dessert was eaten almost every night, usually ice cream with topping or something that I had baked like apple crumble, served with ice cream.

Then there’s the snacks. This is where I was forever going wrong. I would drink 2-8 cups of tea with 2 sugars and milk, every single day. Each cup of tea usually included 2-4 biscuits. I’d often make things like banana cake, scones, cupcakes etc I had regular coffee dates with friends, 1-3 times per week, which included a caramel latte with full cream milk and often a cake, scone or biscuit. I’d pop through a McDonald’s drive through and grab a cheeseburger if I was feeling peckish on my way, to or from somewhere. I’d regularly sit down and watch a movie with hubby and eat a share pack of chips between us or a bag of triple butter microwave popcorn.

I was eating all the things I should have been avoiding. Then I’d ignorantly look at my diet – my 3 main meals of the day – and wonder why I wasn’t losing weight. Truth is, it was because I wasn’t being honest with myself about all the extra calories I was consuming between meals.

Since eating a low carb diet, I have taken full responsibility of my food intake.  I kept a very real and honest food diary for the month prior to starting LCHF and noticed the foods I was eating were not healthy. I have no need to extend meals anymore as I’m not eating as much to start with.

I often don’t eat breakfast and when I do it’s healthy choices such as granola with berries and cream, on the go or a breakfast cook up of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomato, asparagus, zucchini and/or avocado (never all at once). No more sugar and carb laden cereal or toast.

Lunch is usually leftovers, protein like tuna, egg or ham with salad, a pick plate or a frozen pre-prepared meal. My favourites being caulisotto, shepherds pie, butter chicken, lasagne and chicken cacciatore.

Dinners consist of either meat and low carb veg, usually with some grated cheese or one of the delicious meals from the cookbooks. I’m eating mostly wholefoods. I purchase very few foods from the supermarket anymore.

Dessert is rarely eaten, but when it is, I have a small piece of one of the desserts in the TFTC cookbooks, my favourite is the celebration mousse cake. I make it into a square tin, slice into 16 pieces and freeze it. I pull some out before dinner if I’m feeling like dessert that night.

Snacks are rarely needed either, but I usually keep them simple. I love the ‘snack lovers’ brand of pork crackle in place of chips, I usually stick to only about half a dozen pieces in one sitting. Otherwise I’ll have some nuts, a boiled egg, a slice of cheese with vegemite or some camembert cheese with metwurst.

I now menu plan for the fortnight, I choose 5 recipes to make and do what I can in advance and often have a cook up day and make 2-3 recipes and freeze in individual meal portions so that dinners through the fortnight are easier. I make sure that I have healthy snacks on hand, so there’s always boiled eggs in my fridge. There’s always nuts and pork crackle in my pantry. If I’m organised, I succeed, if I’m not, I tend to be more likely to fall off the wagon.

When we eat out I try to choose a meal with the least carbs, but at the same time, I live by the motto “Life is for living”. I tend to stick to protein and some form of vegetables or salad. I never eat chips, I usually request my meal without a potato component, but if the restaurant offers sweet potato fries/wedges, you bet they’ll be on my plate.

How did you manage to alter your eating patterns and accommodate the rest of your family?
I basically told hubby that I was going to start eating LCHF. This only required him trying what ever I make, if he didn’t like something, he’s welcome to find himself dinner and I would save those recipes for lunches. Though I think he’s only disliked one meal, which is saying a lot because he’s picky! He still eats cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. We eat the same dinner every night, but I usually add potato or pasta for his and the children’s meals if absolutely necessary, but usually, they eat what I eat. It’s very easy to adapt dinners to suit the family.

What motivates you to continue with this lifestyle?

My “reasons” motivate me. My goals motivate. My health motivates me.

My reasons are; to be fitter and healthier so that I can be present in my children’s lives, not watching from the sidelines. To be able to be a pillion on my husband’s motorbike. To be able to look in the mirror and like my reflection. To be a positive role model for my children.

My goals are forever changing as I reach new ones. I set small achievable goals and work on them until I am satisfied that they’ve been achieved.

  • My ongoing weight loss goal is every 5kg. I focus on each 5kg, rather than the overall weight loss goal of approximately 75kg. Smaller numbers are easier to focus on.
  • My ongoing fitness goals are shortening my time for a particular length walk ie. 6km in 1h15m down to 1h5m, then adding distance to each walk. I’m currently working towards completing the City to Bay (Adelaide) 12km marathon; walking, in September.
  • I plan to try rebounding (trampoline) as a form of exercise as it’s said to have fantastic health benefits.
  • Working on my overall strength, my current focus being legs and core strength ie. squats/lunges/wall sits.
  • Being able to walk into a clothing store and fit into regular clothing sizes, my current goal is a size 18, however my end goal is a size 14.

My health has never had any major issues however, as I’ve mentioned earlier, mum was diagnosed with T2DM. My dad passed away from a heart attack at only 43 years old. So being fit and healthy to avoid major health complications is a big motivator for me.

What are some of the best tips you’ve learnt from the Thermo Foodies Facebook Community that you would pass onto someone just starting out?

I have learned so many tips and tricks from the Facebook community that I couldn’t possibly list them all.

My top tips are;

  • Read the pinned posts, download the food list and start with the 7-day meal plan and continue meal planning from there. Organisation is key to success. Make sure you supplement your electrolytes.
  • Search the group before you ask questions as you may find your answer immediately rather than waiting for people to respond. In saying that, there is no such thing as a stupid question! You will always find someone is willing to answer and help you along the way, so don’t be afraid to ask.
  • If you fall off the wagon, don’t punish yourself with guilt, food restriction or giving up entirely, just get back up, brush yourself off and get back to it from the next meal. You have to live life as well, dwelling on the small stuff isn’t worth the stress.
  • Listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry, don’t force yourself to eat when you’re not. Once you’re fat adapted you’ll find you’re not as hungry as you were before.

 Is there anything you would do differently or words of advice?

Honestly, I’ve found the switch so simple, that I really don’t think I’d change a thing… maybe start sooner? I never thought I could pass on the sugar, carbs and junk food, but seriously I feel amazing eating so healthily that I actually find it easy to say no or find an alternative.

Anything else you would like to add?

Don’t put off starting for fear of failure! Honestly, if I can give up crap foods and follow a LCHF lifestyle, I genuinely believe that anyone can. I was so addicted to junk foods and sugar, that I never thought it possible, yet here I am.

2 comments on “Our Ambassadors Share Their Low Carb Journey With Us – Sarah McLachlan

Barbara says:

Would love to try these recipes

Barbara says:

Would love to try these recipes

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