Having been on the heavier side her entire life, Haylee Monteiro knows what it’s like to struggle with body image. And being a total foodie and an overachieving academically-inclined student who was terrible at sports only made things worse. She was always focused on studying and working hard to achieve her academic goals, while putting her health and fitness goals on the back burner — she just “didn’t have the time.”
As you can imagine, the calories kept coming in but hardly any were going out. Haylee did try a workout plan with a restricted diet in the summer after high school, and while it did help her drop a little bit of weight, it was a lifestyle that didn’t make her happy.
Junior year of her undergrad, Haylee decided to take a semester off and do an internship. Realizing she had a good amount of time in the evenings to workout, Haylee used this opportunity to journey onto the path of a healthier lifestyle. After a few weeks into her daily elliptical adventure, she introduced the keto diet. Hearing how it accelerates weight loss, she decided it was time to give it a shot and seeing the number on the scale drop kept her motivation high. Since then, Haylee has kept her workout routine regular. Although it hasn’t been all smooth sailing and she’s definitely hit plateaus, she’s kept a positive attitude and kept pushing.
After a year of following keto, Haylee decided to re-introduce carbs. Doing her research, she decided to delve into the realm of introducing carbs at specific times to avoid weight gain. Using all of the new information she learned, she crafted a macro-balanced diet and stuck to it.
Through her transition to keto, she also started on a new-found cooking adventure. Prior to going into college, Haylee had no cooking experience; it was pre-packaged foods that were easy and affordable. Going keto forced her to learn to cook, starting off with simple dishes like omelettes, quesadillas, and casseroles. Through experimentation, she discovered that the possibilities on keto were endless. After transitioning back to a more “normal” style of eating that included carbs, she was able to experiment with comfort dishes she craved, but putting a healthier spin on them.
While a macro-balanced diet does restrict what she can eat at certain times, she’s managed to find ways to fit it all in and is extremely happy with how things are going now!
Want to know some of what Haylee has learned along her journey?
- When you do keto, count the carbs – yes, the actual number – and don’t just avoid the high-carb foods.
- Progress may be slow at times, but don’t give up. Switch out some of your exercises and that will kick your body back into it.
- Cardio is good, but weights are better. Start off your workout with weight training and then follow with cardio at the end. Why? Because when you do cardio, you burn calories at the time. But when you do weights, you continue to burn calories even when exercise has stopped.
- Don’t make excuses to skip a workout. If you make excuses, you’re going to feed the habit and it’s going to happen over and over.
- Learn to love cooking. Start easy by following a recipe you’ll eventually get more comfortable free-styling.
- You don’t need fancy ingredients and kitchen equipment to make a nice meal. There’s plenty of alternatives out there. The internet is your friend.
- Keep a kitchen scale handy – one thing she could not live without.
- Use an app to keep track of your macros.
Want to know how to balance macros around your workout? Here’s what she does:
- Moderate carbs + moderate fats at breakfast
- High carbs + no fats at lunch
- Moderate carbs + moderate fats at mid-evening meal
- Very low carbs + high/moderate fats at dinner (P.S. Keto!)
- Equal amount of protein in every meal!
To find out more about Haylee’s journey and follow her along it, check out her Instagram @hayls.kitchen!
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