Approximately 91 per cent of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape, with the 12 to 24 age group being the most common for eating disorders. But for Ashley Jagla, she was only nine-years-old when she discovered the world of dieting.
Although conscious about her “chubbier” body shape, a combination of several life changes caused Ashley to turn to food to hide her feelings and insecurities. At only 15-years-old, she weighed 115kg – and her weight only spiraled from there.
Ashley found herself continuously binge eating in secret throughout her teenage years and twenties, and by 28, she was tipping the scales at 134kg, suffering with severe arthritis, reactive hypoglycemia, and depression.
“There were mornings I woke up disappointed that I was still alive as I braced myself for the pain that getting dressed would bring,” the now 29-year-old recounted in an Instagram post.
“The only joy I got outside of my family was in the form of food. That little bit of thrill at a bite of the newest sweet was everything to me… that plate of pizza rolls I ate in the bathroom alone, it gave me relief from feeling like an utter failure from a tiny moment in time. Yet the guilt that followed those binges would wreck me to the core.”
But struggling with simple daily tasks like not being able to play with her children or never having a decent night’s sleep, “had become excruciating.” One day she decided to turn her life around for the better and make drastic changes to her diet and lifestyle.
“I decided to make a small change by cutting back on fast food and sweets, two things I ate all the time,” Ashley explains in an interview with Women’s Health Mag.
“In just a few months, I was down to 280 pounds (127kg) —I felt like I was finally making sustainable progress, so I decided to ramp things up with the keto diet. And to hold myself accountable, I started my own Instagram account to keep track of my progress.”
Ashley, who goes by the Instagram handle @ashleymcfitterson, started with the “dirty keto” rendition, whereby the fat portion doesn’t have to come from natural good, healthy fats, like oily fish and avo, and the proteins aren’t lean or organic – instead, the diet allows for processed foods like pork rinds, ice cream, and bunless Big macs.
From “hot wings” to “sausage”, Ashley ate everything and anything that was technically low-carb. After three weeks on the “dirty keto” diet, she then cut back on her meat intake and transitioned to healthier homemade high-fat dishes.
This is what a typical day on a plate looks like to her now.
Breakfast: Eggs with avocado.
Lunch: Tuna and asparagus or chicken and broccoli.
Dinner: Bunless burger or steak with cooked veggies and a large salad.
Snack: Berries, cheese, peanut butter, or a protein bar.
“Two days a month, I add some more treats (usually carbs) to my meals, which is a reward that helps me keep my binging under control,” the mother-of-three adds.
In a short month after following a high-fat low-carb diet, Ashley’s arthritis subsided, her blood sugar returned to a normal range, and she had more energy to enjoy life with her kids – pain-free.
Her exercise routine
As for her exercise routine, Ashley went from not being able to run for more than 90 seconds, to now running at least five times a week for up to an hour-and-a-half at a time, and is even training for a half marathon.
She’s also managed to overcome her “gym anxiety” and incorporates weight training into her routine twice a week.
“I haven’t talked about this much, but I have severe gym anxiety. Cardio is not a huge problem really, because I can put on my headphones and zone out. Weights though, especially this time of year when the gym is packed, ugh,” she captioned an Instagram post.
But in another Instagram post, she explained that she was able to overcome her anxiety by finding quick and simple workouts she found online.
“I started with very basic modified body weight workouts at home a few times a week. Sometimes I only lasted 10-15 minutes, and that’s okay. The point is that I was trying.”
The life lessons
Now, a year after starting the keto diet, Ashley has lost 54kg.
But although she initially turned to the keto diet for fast weight loss, she found it did more than just help her shed the kilos; instead it healed her relationship with food.
“I chose keto for the weight loss, but what I found was freedom. Freedom from inflammation, my pain that kept me a prisoner. Freedom from my prediabetes, with all the illness that it brought. Freedom from constant binge eating, for which I’ll probably never truly be cured,” Ashley explained in an Instagram post.
“Keto has given me the freedom to live my life to the fullest, no exceptions. My children now have a mother who doesn’t struggle to get off the floor & my husband has a wife with more energy to devote.”
Even though she does have her “off days”, every day Ashley is constantly surrounded by reminders of how her life has changed for the better – and this is exactly what keeps her motivated to continue to lead a healthier and happier life.
“You do not have to be perfect to change your life! You do not have to spend a ton of money and it’s okay if you screw up sometimes! Or even a lot of times. Know that you deserve to be a healthy & happy person and don’t stop trying until you become just that.”