My Healthy 2020

I’ve Been on the Keto Diet for 2 Years and It’s Changed My Life

updated Apr 12, 2020
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Credit: Design: The Kitchn; Photo: Rayme Mack

“I think it’s important to base your eating choices off your lifestyle,” says Barbara Peters, an administrative assistant in Texas who’s been eating according to the keto diet for two years. “Keto was a great option because I have PCOS [Polycystic Ovary Syndrome] and that means I’m insulin-resistant.” She’s now living a sugar-free, low-carb life but doesn’t know if it’s for everyone. “Frankly, I don’t think people should limit themselves to one diet, but try many. When you find something that makes you feel good and helps you lose weight, that’s when you know you’ve gotten to the right place.”

I spoke with Barbara about what healthy means to her and why the keto lifestyle and eating plan works for her.

20 people, 20 stories of what healthy means for them in 2020.

My Healthy: The Keto Diet

What does healthy mean to you?
Healthy means caring for my body inside and out so that I can live life as long as possible.

So health for you is defined in relation to living a long life. I think so many of us can relate to that. Based on your experience, what are the factors that contribute to longer life?
I grew up in a traditional African American family that didn’t eat well. When my grandmother was in her 50s and 60s, she was chronically sick, and in and out of the hospital frequently. As I got older, I learned that was attributed to lack of exercise and unhealthy eating. And as I became an adult, I learned that if I wanted to live long and enjoy life for as long as possible, I needed to do better. I needed to eat well, move my body, and find things that help me feel good on the inside and the outside. 

Credit: Courtesy of Barbara Peters

So for you, eating keto has helped you feel your healthiest?
The keto diet changed my life. It’s a sugar-free, low-carb lifestyle, and all the carbs are mostly from vegetables. I typically eat bacon, eggs, and half an avocado for breakfast. Lunch is a big salad with chicken. And my dinner is centered around vegetables like roasted broccoli, pork chops with ranch seasoning, and a side of cauliflower rice. It’s very much simple food but higher in fat and lower in carbs. 

Keto recipes to try: 10 of Our Favorite Keto Recipes

What were your goals when you made this change?
When I started, my focus was on losing weight. Once I started losing 10, 15, and 20 pounds, I was feeling so good that I wondered whether I could improve my PCOS symptoms. I figured out how to regulate my cycle, get rid of chronic migraines, and increase my energy. My PCOS symptoms improved; I gained confidence and learned to love myself and my body. Now I help other women who are struggling with weight and self-esteem issues. 

How did you start eating keto? What motivation pushed you on?
I’m an all-in person so I searched for recipes to learn more about eating keto. I just set a date and started that morning with my fiancé. We just began eating bacon and eggs for breakfast, bunless burgers for lunch, and cauliflower-crust pizza for dinner. From that day, I kept on and never went back to eating regularly. 

The way that I felt every day pushed me on. As I started keto, I felt good every day. I had so much energy and wasn’t tired at 2 p.m. any longer. And I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. With keto, I didn’t feel the desire to cheat; I felt satisfied. And I found a sugar-free replacement for a cupcake (something I love). I learned how to bake it with substitutions.

What are you most proud of? 
I am most proud of the confidence I have gained with this lifestyle. I was afraid to wear dresses and skirts because I thought people would judge me, but now I feel empowered and beautiful in anything I choose to wear. I am also proud that I learned to find alternatives to all of the high-carb sweets and foods I used to eat. Eating healthfully doesn’t mean restrictions for the rest of your life. I love challenging myself to take classic dishes and make them low-carb and equally delicious.

Credit: Courtesy of Barbara Peters

So what does keep you going? Lifestyle and habit changes are famously hard to make and keep. Do you have a secret? 
I think what keeps me going is knowing how I want my life to be when I am up in age. I want to be around for a long time: helping people, traveling the world, and truly living life. I know now that begins while I’m young. When I think about how I want my body to feel and look, that thought propels me to get back up and move forward even when I slip on this journey. 

I also think it’s important to have a support system around you. Most of my friends and coworkers weren’t able to be there for me because they knew nothing about keto. Once they saw me getting healthier, they asked questions. I started a Facebook group. I created a keto 30-day plan for friends and family. It helped them and motivated me to keep on it. 

What’s the one food you love the most?
Southwest stewed beef and roasted Brussels sprouts.

If you were to recommend eating keto to someone else, what is the most important piece of advice you would give them?
The best advice I would give is to be consistent. Nothing worth having is easy. When I started keto, none of my friends were doing it, so it was hard to say no to the temptations, but I remained consistent and never faltered. This is what got me to the place I am now. 

Thank you, Barbara! Follow her on Instagram.

What Is Keto? Start Here.

My Healthy 2020: 20 People, 20 Healthy Choices

Every January people make changes to improve their health. But which ones actually make a difference? We’re sharing the stories of 20 people who changed their lives for the better and stuck — thanks to choices that are individual, diverse, and sometimes wildly different from each other. Read their stories here throughout January. We hope they inspire your own journey to finding your own, unique, individual healthiest 2020.