WEST HARTFORD, CT — The holiday season is quickly rolling upon us, and with that comes many gatherings with family and friends that seem to center around food. Many people face a constant struggle with weight loss, and a West Hartford resident has spent the past year transforming herself from an overweight young adult living in denial about her size, feeling shame and regret about the situation, to a vibrant, healthy woman in the best shape of her life, both physically and emotionally.
Ally Rocha, 28, grew up in Simsbury before moving to West Hartford. She earned a medical administration degree from Manchester Community College, and works for UConn Health as a patient service representative in Radiology within the Orthopedic department.
About a year ago, on a vacation trip 3,000 miles from home, she took an offhand comment from a relative as the wake-up call she needed. She consulted with professionals at the Medi-Weightloss center on Farmington Avenue in her hometown, and embarked on a journey to change not just her dietary habits, but her lifestyle as well. The results have been nothing short of amazing, as she has dedicated her life to following a ketogenic diet.
According to healthline.com, the keto diet, for short, is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that offers many health benefits, and shares many similarities with theand diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts one’s body into a metabolic state called , which lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, and shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and towards fat and ketones.
The remainder of this inspirational story will be in Ally’s own words.
“I want to share my story in order to help others struggling with their weight that with the right tools and support, they can be extremely successful with weight loss. This is a very personal journey for me, as I’ve been overweight for 10 years.
“I was always an active kid and teenager, but after graduating high school and going on to college, I started putting on weight. The problem was no one EVER had made a comment about my weight except my family, which I blew off but shouldn’t have because they really cared about my health. I continued in my deep deep denial for the last five years. But deep down I was very unhappy with my body image, and wondered if I’d ever feel beautiful again.
“My rock bottom didn’t come until almost exactly a year ago. I was in Seattle visiting my uncle with my mother. We had a great time and the night before we left, my mom told me my uncle was very concerned for me, because he hasn’t seen me in five years and I looked about the same weight that he was, which I guess was 250 or 300 pounds. I was floored by that comment and immediately went to the bathroom and weighed myself. I stared at the number, and when I saw I was 290, I experienced this unreal level of shame and regret I’d never felt in my life.
“Two days later, on the recommendation of my primary care doctor, I decided to try Medi Weightloss. She told me it was a lifestyle that you ate low carb high healthy fat and high protein, and it was called the ketogenic diet. She had lost weight doing that and saw success. I called their office, and three days later was in for my first consultation and started keto that same day.
“That decision alone was the very thing that saved my life and saved me from further slowly killing myself. To this day, nothing has had more of an impact on my life than that step to start keto. I never looked back; I only looked forward to what my life could be. It was not easy by any means. I had the keto flu, which essentially was flu-like symptoms – chills, headaches, body aches. All these symptoms were my body detoxing from sugar and carbs, and I experienced these withdrawals for about a month.
“But Medi was there for me. I had a wonderful APRN who made sure I was doing well physically and mentally, and kept me going in a positive light. My nutritionists were a Godsend because they step by step every week gave me a food list of what I should be eating every 3-4 hours. They did this for me for about six weeks.
“My weekly goal was to always keep my body in ketosis and keep losing inches and body fat. After about three months of eating clean and working out and being on medication to keep my appetite at bay, I finally started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I never craved food; it didn’t make me break out in a sweat seeing bad food I couldn’t eat. I was not being held hostage by cravings, and each week that went by, my willpower grew and grew.
“I made a vow to myself on day one, ‘Ally, you can do this. I know you have it in you to change, you will do everything in your power to succeed, and if you want it that bad, you will never give up or cheat.’ To this day, that is my mantra. I have never cheated once or let myself get out of the fat burning stage. I am religious with working out seven days a week for 2-3 hours a day, Monday through Friday. I started going to the gym seven days a week six months ago and haven’t looked back.
“There are so many positive attributes to the keto lifestyle. In the last 12 months I’ve lost 105 pounds, lost 20 inches and counting off my waist, and my body fat percentage has gone from being almost 53 percent to 35. I am currently at 175 pounds and only have 40 more to lose to get to my goal weight.
“I have set myself free of the weight that has been holding me back for the past 10 years. I am 28 years old and in the best physical shape of my life, as well as my mental health, as I’ve never been happier than now.”
Ally Rocha shown in 2018 at 290 pounds (left), about six months ago at 230 (center), and last weekend at 175 (right), en route to her goal weight of 130. (Photos courtesy of Ally Rocha)