IN August 2017, Kelly McIntosh gave up on trying to lose weight.
Having struggled with weight management all her life, she was resigned to being fat as she aged. McIntosh rid her closet of all her “slimming” clothes, and according to her, just gave up on herself.
“Four weeks later my daughter took a picture of me at the beach, and when I saw it I was horrified — and I decided to give it one more shot,” she shared with the audience at JAMPRO's Business Auditorium two Tuesdays ago.
She was presenting on the importance of nutrition to women's physical and emotional well-being at the first staging of the “She Speaks” lecture series.
McIntosh shared that she was also motivated by her family, as she did not want her children to grow up to be obese.
“I didn't like what I saw when I looked at myself, plus my then 14-year-old son was fat, and I saw his light dimming, and I decided that I couldn't let my child go through life like that,” she confessed.
The mother decided to try something that had worked for her in the past when she lost a little weight before regaining it — only, this time, she decided to be more consistent.
“I cut carbohydrates from my diet,” she told the group of mainly women, who would later be inspired by six other women who spoke on different topics such as mental health, climate change, women in the animation industry, sexual health, coping in toxic environments, and e-learning.
“I just didn't do well with carbs. Moderation does not come easy to me,” she admitted. “I could not eat one spoonful of rice. I could not eat just three cookies out of the pack, or half a tub of ice-cream and let the rest remain. It was not because I was greedy — I'm an overachiever in every other area of my life. So why is it that I could not control my diet?
“It was not because I was weak. It was because my physiology does not allow me to consume efficiently that one non-essential macronutrient,” McIntosh said.
“Once I cut the carbs, my body started working with me. It's not magic, it's science,” she said, showing the rapt audience pictures of herself before she started her transformation process. “In the absence of carbohydrates, your blood sugar stabilises and your body doesn't need to secrete the hormone insulin in such huge amounts.”
She said the greatest thing that came from her change in diet was the feeling that she was once again in control of her body and her life.
“But there is something else that happened other than weight loss,” she pointed out. “When I started to eat the things that honoured my body, my mind cleared up. The brain fog went. I stopped feeling low, tired and indecisive. The energy levels went up.”
One year after she started the journey, McIntosh got laid off from her job. Despite not liking her job, she didn't quit because she hated the uncertainty that would have come with that.
“I had never had a burning inside of me to be an entrepreneur; I thought I was a very good employee. But even in the middle of the uncertainty when I got laid off, the sense of control I now had over my body and my choices enabled me to challenge myself. I thought it was time to honour me,” she shared.
McIntosh decided to document her journey and to use her experience as an educator and marketer to create a service to help women who are struggling, as she once had.
“I coach women who have stories like mine and want to lose weight and feel in control again,” a proud McIntosh said. “I make low-carb food — the food that feeds my body — and I sell it to women like me.”
When asked what role exercise played in her transformation, McIntosh quipped: “Exercise is good, but you can never outrun a bad diet.
“However, what exercise does is clear your mind. You automatically make better decisions when you are working out,” she continued. “I had always been working out, but as I changed my diet and started to lose weight and my mind cleared, I was lighter and I had more energy levels, it was second nature to start moving. I exercise five times a week now. I do a 5K every Saturday morning. Exercise is not the main way to lose weight, but it complements it.”
She maintained that although she stays away from carbs, she makes it a point of duty to enjoy good food.
“I don't diet. I'm never deprived, because food is important to me. It is an experience. I don't like smoothies because they finish in 30 seconds,” she exclaimed, as the room roared in agreement.
McIntosh said, too, that she is still on her journey, as her transformation is not complete — it is now her lifestyle.
“Grand transformation is never the result of one huge step. It is the cumulative effect of many small steps done consistently, over time,” she said.
— Candiece Knight