By GMA TEAM, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Chineye Emeche had struggled with her weight her entire life.
But the 35-year-old biomedical scientist said she hit rock-bottom two years ago when she joined friends and family in Mexico to celebrate her brother’s 30th birthday.
“I saw pictures and the videos and I was mortified,” Emiche, of Laurel, Maryland, told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “I was really bothered by how I looked and physically I wasn’t happy.”
“My joints hurt. Everything hurt. I couldn’t walk upstairs. I was out of breath just walking down the street. I was 33. It wasn’t normal and I wanted a change,” she said.
When Emeche returned home from the trip, she decided to make a change and started on WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers.
“I just started and as easy as that sounds, that’s the hardest step,” she said, recalling that she started her weight loss journey on Nov. 12, 2018, because she decided she did not want to wait for the New Year to make a change. “I was like, it doesn’t matter what you do, just start today and don’t stop.”
While on WW, Emeche said she found the most success and felt the best when she ate fewer carbohydrates.
She did some research and soon transitioned to the ketogenic, or keto, diet, a diet that focuses on foods high in fat and low in carbohydrates.
Two years later, Emeche has lost 90 pounds.
She still follows the keto diet — eating mostly vegetables and foods high in protein and healthy fat — and has learned to listen to her own body to know when and what to eat.
“As women, we’re taught to be so self-aware and aware of our bodies but I never paid attention to things until I started keto and started listening to my body,” she said. “Now I just go about my day and when my body says, ‘you need to eat,’ I sit down and eat.”
The keto diet that Emeche attributes her weight loss to is designed to get your body into a state called ketosis where your body is so low on carbohydrates that it starts burning fat for fuel.
Foods that are “keto-friendly” include items like eggs, butter, unprocessed cheese, avocados, meat, low-carb veggies and nuts and seeds.
“I have done a lot of binge eating in the past, where I would eat healthy but then I’d eat a pack of doughnuts and just eat my emotions,” said Emeche of her eating habits before keto. “I used to be a sugar and sweets addict and now I don’t even crave them.”
Emeche documents her weight loss journey on Instagram, where she shares with her followers her favorite keto recipes as well as the realities of her weight loss.
“It hasn’t been upward mobility for this journey,” she said, noting that she gained about 20 pounds during the coronavirus pandemic that she is now working to lose. “I go up and I go down, but I’m not afraid of the scale anymore.”
“You can do everything right and it won’t budge or you’ll gain, and in the past that would cause me to eat poorly or binge and not focus on the overall goal, which is good health,” she said.
Emeche said she also documents her lifestyle changes on Instagram because she’s hoping to help build what she calls “generational health.”
“When people ask me questions, I’m very forthcoming because I want people to know they’re not alone,” she said. “There’s a community of support out there.”
Emeche, who two years ago struggled to walk down a street, now exercises daily and said she challenges herself by always setting new goals.
Her advice to others is just to take the first step, what she called the hardest step, and to believe in themselves.
“I was a step away from weight loss surgery and keto was my last step before I went through it and I’m so grateful,” she said. “I thought I was just meant to be heavy my whole life. If I can do this, anybody can do this.”
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