Jessica Pendergrass had struggled with her weight for as long as she could remember. Throughout her late teens and into her adulthood she was either ‘too skinny’ or ‘too fat’. She can’t remember ever feeling confident in her own skin.
On top of coping with the stress that comes along with a full-time job, soon her health began to spiral, as well as that of her family’s. “My oldest son was born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia and needed two life saving surgeries, and both of my sons were also diagnosed with Craniosynostosis and needed skull surgery,” the mother-of-two tells myBody+Soul.
Suddenly, the mere thought of exercising became a thing of the past, while eating out or fast food became the norm. Her own health was pushed back even further on a long-list of priorities, and before she knew it, her weight had peaked at 115kg. But she can still remember the tipping point: “I was so tired of not fitting into size 16 pants.”
“I woke up one morning and knew if I didn’t start looking forward to being healthier, it would never happen,” she recalls.
That very morning six months ago, she decided to say goodbye to her “terrible” high-carb, sugar-loaded diet, and set herself a goal to lose 30kg with the help of the keto diet.
“I’m not going to lie, the first couple of weeks were so tough,” the 32-year-old explains. “I ended up having to throw out everything in the pantry that I couldn’t have and I started with very simple recipes.”
Despite the challenge, the results were promising; in just a few short weeks the stubborn fat dropped off and her energy levels increased. Six rewarding, but tough months later, and Jessica has shed a whopping 40kg.
On top of following a strict low-carb, high-fat and moderate protein diet, she also adopted the 16:8 fasting diet (whereby you fast for 16 hours and eat within the remaining eight). Combining the two trendy diets, which is now more commonly known as the Dubrow diet.
In simple terms, the essence of the Dubrow diet mimics that of the keto diet – to aid weight loss and increase energy levels. However, instead of only cutting out carbs, the Dubrow Diet promotes intermittent fasting on a low-carb diet.
Here’s what her typical day on a plate looks like:
Breakfast: Bulletproof coffee
Optional morning snack: cucumbers and cheese
Lunch: Small salad with full-fat ranch dressing
Dinner: Protein with veggies
Although Jessica doesn’t normally eat dessert, she treats herself to some “sugar-free jello” for those nights when she gets a sweet tooth.
Her workout routine
Eating right was one thing, but forcing herself to get active was a whole other challenge. “I never exercised,” Jessica confesses. But she managed with what she had on hand. “Being a stay at home mum of a one-year-old doesn’t leave much time for the gym, so I stick to daily workout videos and if the weather permits, we walk and pick up my oldest from school.”
Although she couldn’t be prouder of her weight loss achievements, her new appreciation for her body, her increased confidence, and her healthier mindset is what she’s most grateful for.
“I have always had issues with weight… too fat, too skinny, blah blah blah,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “Keto has given me confidence that I have NEVER had before. It’s been the best thing I have ever done. It’s not just a diet, but a new lifestyle and I will never go back!”
In another Instagram post, she credits these six steps to helping her start her weight loss journey:
1. Following inspirational Keto accounts on Instagram
2. Using a macro calculator
3. Keeping her grocery shopping simple and cheap
4. Avoiding sugars and processed foods
5. Eating pickles when she was suffering from ‘keto flu’ symptoms
6. Drinking lots of water
No weight loss goal is easy, but Jessica’s takeaway message is one every person should start their journey with: “My advice to others trying to lose weight is to find the right diet that works for you! Everybody is different and everybody will lose weight at different paces. What is working for me may not necessarily work for the next person. But regardless what diet you are on, hold yourself accountable and drink lots of water!”
For more weight loss stories, this is how one woman lost 50kg on the keto diet all without stepping foot in a gym, and this is how another woman lost 88kg and kept it off by using this simple meal prepping hack.