Joanna Wilcox struggled with emotional eating until she tried this diet and lost 56 pounds

Joanna Wilcox lost 56 pounds. (Photos courtesy of Joanna Wilcox)

Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Joanna Wilcox is 33 and 5-foot-7, and she currently weighs 147 pounds. In 2016, gradually gaining weight due to issues with emotional eating, she finally found a diet she was able to turn into a healthy lifestyle. This is the story of her weight-loss journey.

The turning point

I was overweight at the age of 12 and clearly remember feeling uncomfortable in my body for all of my teen years. I was able to lose weight in college and finally felt fantastic. Over the years, I could tie my weight gain to certain experiences like moving across the country (add 10 pounds), renovating our condo (add 10 pounds), having a miscarriage (add 10 pounds), losing a loved one (add another 10). Emotional eating took full control of my life, and by the time my second child was born, I was unable to lose the baby weight. Instead of losing after coming back from the hospital, I only gained more weight.

I had tried many programs to lose weight: Weight Watchers, calorie counting, and even BeachBody’s 21 Day Fix. All seemed promising, but I always ended up gaining back any lost weight plus additional pounds. I watched shows like The Biggest Loser and knew that in order to fix the weight issues I had to figure out why I was overeating to begin with. I sought out support for emotional eating and remember the counselor stating, “It’s not OK to eat a sandwich for lunch. Society will tell you it’s OK, but it’s not.” This was when wheels started turning and I started paying attention to the amount of carbohydrates in the foods I was consuming.

Joanna Wilcox tried lots of trendy diets before committing to a plan that worked for her. (Photo: Courtesy of Joanna Wilcox)

The changes

I spent over six weeks online researching the ketogenic diet, which is a low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet. I jumped in headfirst on Dec. 1, 2016, without the right foods or meal plans but determined to stick to the calorie and macronutrient targets. I created an Instagram account and uploaded a video of me in my bathroom, deciding to put it all out there! The keto diet is extremely low carb, but I gave myself flexibility to eat whatever foods I wanted to within my carb limit. Some others on keto follow a stricter protocol — cutting out certain ingredients or foods — but I thought keto was restrictive enough. I occasionally did a weekly yoga or barre class but can attribute the first 50 pounds I lost to my diet.

I felt amazing getting through the holiday parties while maintaining my diet. I even went to Vegas in March and maintained my keto lifestyle while away. Every day that I stuck with it, I felt stronger and more motivated. My husband follows keto with me, so that helps to keep me on track. I don’t even think people around me started to notice my weight loss until April or May.

One thing that helped tremendously was the support I received from fellow keto dieters on Instagram. I was held accountable by sharing every meal, allowing access to my food diary, and discussing new foods or recipes I was trying. When people start looking to you for motivation for themselves, it becomes very powerful. When you have people who believe in you when you weren’t sure you could believe in yourself, it is hard to describe how encouraging it feels.

The after

I am quick to tell people that losing weight doesn’t change everything in your life. What it does do is improve how you feel about yourself and how you project yourself to others around you. I honestly didn’t believe that I could ever feel like my old self again. Physically, I feel much lighter and more capable of different activities. My clothes fit great, and I am more motivated than ever to start gaining muscle and improving the overall shape of my body.

I surprised myself in my ability to dedicate myself to this way of eating for as long as I have. Some people aren’t very happy for you when you change, perhaps because they have things about themselves that they would like to change but haven’t been able to.

I just finished week six of a Couch to 5K running program and have a 5K run scheduled in two weeks with a group of girlfriends. I still follow the ketogenic diet without higher carb days, as I would still like to lose 10 more pounds.

Joanna Wilcox keeps herself accountable with the help of her Instagram following and her kids. (Photo: Courtesy of Joanna Wilcox)

The maintenance

I track everything that I eat and log it into MyFitnessPal. I find tracking keeps me accountable.

The group of women that I have connected with online through Instagram keeps me motivated and inspired! It’s a great online community where I’m able to hear about new products, get recipe ideas, and cheer others on. It’s really special, and I feel very blessed to have found such positive women (and a few men) who are willing to share their journeys with me.

My kids also keep me motivated to continue. My daughter, especially, is proud of the changes I have made.

The struggles

I struggle with things like taking the vitamins and supplements that are helpful on a ketogenic diet. My water intake is less than ideal, and I’d love to consistently go to the gym. I am going to start charting these things the way I do with my food. Hopefully I can set goals, communicate those goals to my friends online, and follow through. This method seems to work very well for me.


You need to really be at a place where you are willing to commit. I know that I wouldn’t have achieved the success that I have without committing 100 percent to this lifestyle. Losing the weight isn’t easy, but it can be life-changing. Put yourself first!

If you are interested in learning more about following a keto diet, I wrote an ebook beginner’s guide to starting keto, and if you’ve never tried it before, I would highly suggest giving it a try for even one month. It could be the diet that allows you to finally lose the weight!

Follow Joanna’s progress on instagram at @ketoincanada

Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!

Weight-Loss Win is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

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