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'I Cut Out Added Sugar—And Lost 108 Pounds'

Carlisa Demeritte as told to Emily Shiffer
Photo credit: Carlisa Demeritte

From Women's Health

I was always taller and larger than the average kid or teenager. I’m now 6-feet tall, so you can probably picture me towering over my friends when I was growing up. People always told me that I “carried my weight well,” whatever that means.

But I was aware that I was overweight, regardless of my height. My feelings about my weight weren’t just about the scale number—I just knew I wasn’t healthy. I had no exercise routine and ate fast food all the time. Sugar was one of my biggest vices, especially in beverages. I had no idea how much of the sweet stuff I was actually taking in each day.

I tried dozens of diets from the age of 14 and up, but I failed over and over. I could never commit to anything sustainable. After years of starting then quitting healthy lifestyle habits, I knew enough was enough.



My turning point was in January 2018: I was taking the stairs and realized I was out of breath and practically dripping in sweat.

I hated the feeling of a simple activity being so strenuous on my body. For the first time, I wanted to stick to my diet and regime—to not give up on myself.

I went *all* in, cold-turkey style. I completely cut out sugar, fast food, fried foods, bread, rice, and all the sweets. Sticking to my intense approach was difficult, especially since I had given up every other time I tried to lose weight. But I watched empowering videos of weight-loss stories to stay inspired. This time, I knew I had to do something drastic to make a lifestyle change really stick.



When I started out on my weight-loss journey, veggie and fruit smoothies were my go-to meals for breakfast, and sometimes dinner. My other main meals usually consisted of vegetables and baked meat (chicken or turkey). If I needed a snack, I’d reach for fruit. I also watched my salt intake, drank two to four liters of water every day, and had two or more cups of green tea as well. I also tried intermittent fasting.

But I realized that the most sustainable way for me to lose weight and keep it off was simply to focus on watching my carb and sugar intake.

My diet now consists mainly of lean meats and vegetables, little to no bread, and no added sugar (I still eat fruit, which has natural sugar!). This also meant no fried foods and no liquids besides water and tea (no sugar, again).

A huge positive change for me? I cooked my own food—and started to meal prep. Cooking for myself for the week kept me from being tempted to grab fast food. I’ve also started cooking ready-made meals for others looking to eat better. I've learned you truly can’t outwork a poor diet.

Removing carbs (especially processed carbs) from my diet aided my weight loss significantly. Everyone is different, but for me, refined carbs seem to be harder for my body to break down and leave me feeling bloated and lethargic. By consuming fewer carbs, I saw better weight-loss results. Here’s what I typically eat in a day now:

  • Breakfast: Black coffee or green tea (no cream or sugar), eggs with spinach, and turkey or bacon
  • Lunch: Stir-fry veggies and grilled chicken
  • Snacks: Berries or apples and unsalted cashews
  • Dinner: Cauliflower mash and ground turkey with broccoli
  • Dessert: Watermelon, strawberries, and almonds, or lightly salted popcorn



As for workouts? I started off with mainly cardio because I had little to no knowledge of weights.

I walked on the treadmill and used the elliptical for 30 minutes each. Eventually I started gaining more knowledge and confidence at the gym, and I began to incorporate light weights. I switched to doing 45 minutes to an hour of cardio (a mix of the elliptical, treadmill, and also the StairMaster). I worked out four to five days a week at the beginning, and now I work out five to six.

Sometimes I’ll throw in a two-a-day and attend a fun class. I love Zumba, Total Body Pump, and yoga. I’ve also learned to love strength training and weight lifting. I will work on arms, abs, legs, back/shoulders, and glutes. (I typically do some form of abs and glutes everyday). I have pushed myself to stay active and consistent.




That day in January 2018, I chose myself.

I lost 108 pounds overall within a year, from January 2018 to 2019. Now I can take a flight of stairs and not be out of breath. My life has changed for the better physically, spiritually, and mentally. My daily motivation was to become a better version of myself for myself. Nobody else. It’s not a race or about a specific diet—it’s a lifestyle change, and I did it for me.

One of the most important things I’ve learned? The hardest part is just making the conscious decision that You're. Doing. This. Once you make up your mind to be healthy (and I mean *really* make up your mind—say it out loud if you have to), the rest is about learning healthy habits, then practicing those again and again. When you commit to choosing yourself and making your health the priority, you're already on the road to success.

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