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“How I Lost 87 Pounds, Beat Prediabetes, and Overcame My Sugar Cravings”

The delicious chocolate peanut-butter confections that helped her stick with keto

While everyone else at the party conversed and had a grand time, Cathy Balsamo felt tortured by the sight of all the chips and desserts that were forbidden on her brand-new diet. Unable to resist those treats, her thoughts spiraled like a funnel cake: I’m jealous of people who can eat what they want. And I’m angry at myself for not being able to get a grip on my habits!

Cathy spent years battling her weight. “I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. Being heavy kept me from doing things that I loved and stripped me of my confidence in a way that changed my personality.” She’d go all day without eating, only to grow so hungry by evening that she would binge everything in sight. Her sweet cravings, mixed with a heavy dollop of deprivation, were a dangerous combo that always derailed her. Yet, despite all the suffering, Cathy gained weight instead of losing it — plus she developed high blood pressure. “It was a lonely place. I was scared and desperate to get healthy.”

Cathy was desperate enough, it seemed, to try something that felt crazy: signing up for a six-week low-carb challenge — essentially a version of a keto diet — sponsored by a local gym. This self-proclaimed “Queen of Carbs” embraced the plan by clearing out all the processed junk from her kitchen and noshing on real foods rich in satisfying fats, like nuts, eggs, chicken, and beef. The approach went against everything she thought she knew about weight loss.

Yet Cathy quickly discovered that fueling her body frequently was so much easier than fighting against it. “I was eating more than I ever had, and I was losing weight!” Stepping on the scale after a month, she was thrilled to see a 20-pound weight loss! Better yet, Cathy found that incorporating filling fats meant she never felt hungry. She could visit a restaurant, attend a party, and go on vacation and not feel cheated. “For the first time ever, I felt satisfied.”

No longer dogged by cravings, she noticed, “My thinking became clearer. I became a better mother and a better wife, and I performed better at work.”The only thing that Cathy missed about her new lifestyle was dessert. That’s when she discovered recipes online for homemade, bite-size treats called fat bombs. “I thought there was no way these could be okay for me to eat.” But they were! And they tasted better than the bad-for-you versions.

Cathy would pop a chocolate peanut butter bomb — her favorite — into her mouth a couple times throughout the day to give herself a boost. She didn’t realize how powerful this tool was until she went away on a girls’ weekend and didn’t feel tempted by any of the junk food that surrounded her. “Fat bombs truly saved me. They were the missing link to success!” That’s when Cathy knew, “I finally won the battle. I could still live my normal, fun lifestyle without gaining weight. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops that it really was not that hard!”

All told, Cathy lost 87 pounds, slimming her midsection from a clothing size of 20 to a 6. “This program taught me to understand nutrition, what foods are important and why. Plus I’ve learned how my body works, so I can be accountable, which is huge!” Cathy, who now helps others through her “Healthy Recipes” Facebook group, also got off her prescription medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Plus, her sleep has improved, she’s no longer prediabetic and her knee pain has disappeared. “I had to hit rock bottom with my health to figure it all out. But now I feel the best I’ve felt ever!” She encourages other women: “You must eat to lose. Now is the time. Your results are there waiting for you!”

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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