Photo courtesy of Angela Norton/Shutterstock
After her first marriage ended in heartbreak, Amanda Havard fell headlong into a cycle of anxiety, emotional eating, and weight gain that she felt powerless to stop. But in just one year, she had turned the tide and revamped her health with the help of the keto diet. She celebrated her new lease on life in the most unique way possible — with a keto wedding!
“I have to do something,” Havard told her friend in the throes of her despair. “I’ve struggled with anxiety for years, but this … this is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”
Earlier that year, Havard had endured a painful divorce, and the Florida airport technician and mom of two found herself caught in a spiral of negativity. The experience served to heighten her chronic anxiety, causing an avalanche of emotional eating. Before long, Havard's weight had crept up to 223 pounds.
After her divorce had been finalized, she began to see a therapist to address her anxiety, which in turned helped to quell her emotional eating. She was thrilled when she lost 23 pounds, but still struggled with bouts of panic, fear and worry. Ultimately, she knew she’d need to do something drastic to truly turn her life around.
“I just want to be a healthy role model for my kids, emotionally and physically,” Havard remembers confiding to her friend. “Therapy is helping, but I really need to find a new diet. I’ve done so many over the years and none have ever stuck.”
“What about SlimFast?” her friend suggested.
Surprisingly, Havard had never tried the popular program. "Maybe this will be the boost I need," she hoped.
A New Beginning
In August 2017, Havard set a 30-pound weight loss goal. Surrounding herself with positive support, she began to eat a replacement shake and bar for breakfast and lunch, followed by one 500-calorie meal. She was over the moon when, just 28 weeks in, her weight fell to 170 pounds.
“I feel amazing!” Havard told friends.
Pounds weren't the only thing she was shedding, either. Havard's anxiety had also begun to melt away, and with it, her need for emotional eating. Suddenly, she felt something she hadn’t felt in a long time: confidence. Invigorated, Havard took on a new exercise regimen at a local Taekwondo studio, where she met instructor Sam Cuomo and fell head over heels in love. "Things just keep getting better," Havard thought excitedly.
She didn't let her success lessen her weight loss steam, however. Determined to stay on her path of wellness, Havard turned to SlimFast’s new low-carb, high-fat keto program.
With the keto diet, which neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D., describes as one that favors fat over sugar and carbs reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, Havard had a whole new meal plan.
She started her day with a low-carb shake and a cup of coffee, then enjoyed a morning snack of nuts. A keto meal bar followed for lunch, then pepperoni and cheese as an afternoon snack, with dinners of grilled chicken, vegetables, and crispy bacon.
“The best thing is that most keto food options are the delicious things everyone enjoys!” Havard shared with her extended family, who, inspired by her success, had started the keto program too.
Havard was definitely on the right track. Despite fat being looked upon as unhealthy for decades, new science — and amazing results! — are proving that the low-carb, high-fat way of eating in the ketogenic diet has health benefits galore.
In fact, research reveals a keto diet can boost energy by 88 percent and improve sleep quality by 21 percent, reduce blood pressure by up to 22 percent, bring high cholesterol readings down to healthy ranges, and increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol by 32 percent. This diet has also been shown to lower levels of heart-harming triglycerides by a whopping 300 percent.
What's more, Perlmutter says those undertaking this way of eating, like Havard did, will "have less brain fog within the first week."
That's because high-fat diets produce ketones, a type of specialized fuel the body makes from fats that raises levels of glutathione, a powerful brain-protecting antioxidant. Research in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism found that even adults with mild declines in memory saw a 62 percent improvement on a high-fat diet.
Additionally, researchers at the University of California at Davis found that mice given a keto diet lived longer than those on a higher-carb, lower-fat diet — the equivalent of an extra seven to 10 years for humans, says Jon Ramsey, Ph.D., who worked on the study. “Equally important, the mice retained quality of health in later life.”
As Havard continued to feel her best and experience weight loss success, her love life also began to turn around — she and Cuomo got engaged last fall.
In a unique homage to her journey, Havard decided to cater an all keto wedding. This past June, down 35 pounds and at her goal weight of 135 pounds, she and Sam tied the knot with a beachfront ceremony in Cedar Key, Florida.
Amazingly, all the food at the reception was low-carb and deliciously keto-compliant, from their savory chicken and steak bites to their beautiful wedding cake, which was made with almond flour.
For the newlywed wife and now mother of a combined family of eight kids, keto provided a new lease on life. “It’s an amazing feeling!” she gushes.
Havard is thrilled with her weight-loss success, but insists that the number on the scale is not the only gift that keto has given her. “I’ve never felt healthier,” she cheers. “I struggled with anxiety for years, but since changing my eating habits, that’s all changed. I don’t panic over things that used to be triggers, and I can handle my emotions so much better. My cravings have subsided, and even my eyesight has improved!"
The happy dieter concludes: "No matter where you are in life, don’t give up. When you find what works for you, you can achieve anything!”
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.