Transformation

How the Keto Diet Helped Me Lose 31 Pounds — Without Ever Joining a Gym

Erin Quarino had made strides with her workouts, but it was changing her diet to a ketogenic eating plan that made the biggest difference.


Photographs courtesy Erin Quarino.

Changing your body takes hard work, persistence, and dedication. Here’s one local’s story. Want to share your Transformation Story? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com

Who: Erin Quarino, 32, a hotel director of sales from Norristown

Why I wanted to make a change: “When my son was ten months old in July 2016, I had only lost ten pounds postpartum. I gained 37 pounds during my pregnancy, and I was having the hardest time losing the baby weight. I knew I had to do something. I was so unhappy, none of my clothes fit, and I was using food to deal with the stress of having a new baby and going back to work full time.  I knew I wanted to become a healthier version of myself, not just for me, but for my family, especially my son.”

Height: 5’8″

Starting weight: 216

Current weight: 185

What changed: “Staying consistent, putting in the work, and carving out time for myself each week to just sweat has made me stronger, sharper, and a happier person. My energy levels have increased and I can keep up with my busy toddler!”

How I changed my workout plan: “When I decided to make a change in July 2016, my sister introduced me to Ashley Horner programs. I chose one of Ashley’s at-home programs that focused on a combination of cardio and circuit strength training. More recently, I’ve started her high intensity interval training (HIIT) program that requires minimal equipment. As a full-time working mom to a toddler, I’m a firm believer that every little bit helps!  If I get up in the morning at 5:30 and can only get in a 25 to 30 minute workout, it’s better than doing nothing. The key is to just get moving! I don’t belong to a gym—everything I do is right in our basement four to five days a week. If I don’t have a piece of equipment for a program I am doing, I modify.”

How I changed my diet: “After almost two years of consistent working out, I knew it was time I made a change to my nutrition and way of eating. While I was losing some inches, I wasn’t having much success with losing weight. I started the KIIT program with Dr. Tom Meitz and Dr. Frank Puglisi of F.A.T. Stats in March. It is a 90-day program that introduces a ketogenic lifestyle. I avoid processed foods, take-out, and (as one example) when baking, I swap out almond flour for regular flour. I eat more veggies, avocados, chicken, beef, cheeses, and nuts to name a few things. I have lost 27 pounds since making changes to my nutrition.”

“Starting the keto lifestyle has helped me control my food portions and know when I am full, or when I am hungry.”

The hardest part: “My most difficult struggle has always been food. The saying ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’ has always stuck with me. It doesn’t matter if you train or workout five days a week, your diet and how you fuel your body is key. This past February, I knew I needed to clean up my eating to continue on my journey. I was a salads all week, and then binge on pizza, hoagies, and wine all weekend kind of girl.  Every Monday, I would re-start my ‘diet.’ Starting the keto lifestyle has helped me control my food portions and know when I am full, or when I am hungry. I will always enjoy food and believe in all things ice cream and pizza, but I no longer have the urge to binge. I eat one slice of pizza, not 4 and I will try one brownie, not eat half a pan.”

What I’m most proud of: “I am most proud of myself for not throwing in the towel on myself. I learned this is a journey that has no finish line. Results won’t come overnight. I still have bad days, just like everyone else, but I learned being consistent and celebrating small, achievable goals keeps me going.”

What I want everyone to know: “Anyone can jump into finding a healthier version of themselves.  Starting is the hardest step, but one day turns into a week, and a week turns into a month. Taking it a day at a time was what got me through some of my hardest weeks, even months.  Life happens, I miss workouts, but you just move on and start again. It’s important to always remember that small changes add up to big changes over time. And take progress pics! The scale doesn’t define you or always show your hard work and dedication.”

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