‘The Paleo Diet Jumpstarted My 125-Pound Weight Loss. I Maintained It With Keto And Strength Training’

My name is Dana Nicole Oswald (@danatheketoprincess), and I’m 23 years old. I live in Ottawa, Canada, and I’m a civil servant. By following a paleo diet, and later transitioning to keto and working with a personal trainer, I was able to achieve my 125-pound weight loss.

Prior to my weight-loss journey, I struggled a lot with overeating and various disordered eating habits, like distracted eating and binge eating. Food often brought me comfort and it became normal for me to eat huge amounts of food almost mindlessly.

I didn’t really have any understanding of nutrition and the effects particular foods could have on my body. So I typically opted for convenient foods, which probably exacerbated the issues with food that I was having overall. My weight hit 265 pounds when I was just 20 years old. And the extra pounds started impacting my health.

I had high blood pressure that persisted for over a year before I started making changes. I also experienced shortness of breath and severe joint pain. I was ready to make a change in 2018.

I felt burnt out that year because I was balancing so many demanding roles, and I started to realize how poorly I was treating my body.

In taking on so much, and doing so much for others, my own personal health began to slip through the cracks. So I decided to make my mental and physical well-being a priority. In April 2018, I officially transitioned to the paleo diet after a friend introduced me to it.

This was the first low-carb diet I was introduced to. I saw great results and was able to lose 30 pounds.


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Following this, I did some research into the keto diet and stuck with it.

I felt that keto would work best with the foods I enjoy and my lifestyle. I really liked the simplicity of the day-to-day meals I was having and enjoyed the fact that keto is super diabetes-friendly, as I have several relatives who have type 2 diabetes.


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I discovered many low-carb/keto alternatives to my favorite desserts and comfort foods that I could share with them as well so they didn’t feel deprived as a result of their condition. I don’t really see keto as a “diet” that I follow, but more so a guide to a lifestyle that works best for me. I do intermittent fasting too which has also helped me on my journey.


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Here’s what I eat in a day.

  • Breakfast: Since I do intermittent fasting, the most I’ll have is a collagen coffee with a zero-calorie, zero-carb coffee creamer.
  • Lunch: This is when I break my fast with something like a cheese omelette and a banana protein shake. I’ll usually take my vitamins and supplements during this time too.
  • Snacks: I have been snacking a lot less lately, but I typically review a ton of keto-friendly snacks on my Instagram account. A snack I had today was a Ratio Lemon Almond Crunchy Bar. I track my net carbs and I love that this product is super satisfying and only has 2 net carbs.


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  • Dinner: Tuna salad with shredded cheddar cheese and zero-calorie, zero-carb dressing.
  • Dessert: Cinnamon cake with caramel drizzle. This is one of my many fun, low-carb alternative recipes. It’s delicious and fits within my macros with only 3-4 net carbs.


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I started exercising two months into my journey.

I lost around 30 pounds with just changing my eating habits, but knew I could push myself to do more. The idea of signing up for a gym membership made me super anxious, as I had never exercised in my life before and I knew there would be a bit of a learning curve.


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So I signed up for personal training at a small studio, and it helped me build my knowledge and become more confident before getting my own gym membership. Once I signed up for my local gym, I loved it! I went every day, and with the incorporation of exercise I was able to see major results really quickly.

Now, I typically do four to five days of workouts (primarily strength training) and I focus the other two to three days on cardio activities or active recovery outdoors. This includes things such as runs, walks, hikes, and cycling.


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These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight-loss results.

I got rid of my “tomorrow” mindset. For years I put off prioritizing my health and making those necessary changes. I put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. I knew it was time to put myself first, and I had the opportunity to start right away. Every moment of our lives is an opportunity to transform!

I didn’t rely on motivation. Motivation is fleeting, and that’s where determination kicks in. When you have a deep understanding of your “why” and a sustainable purpose behind your goals, your drive will get you to where you need to be.

I did my research and was willing to do the work. The “diet industry” can be super exploitative, and has convinced people that if you throw your money at weight-loss/fat-burning products, it will do the work for you. That’s not true! Take time to understand the basics of weight loss, weight gain and food intake. You’ll gain such valuable knowledge you can use within any way of eating that goes beyond any prescribed diet.


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Since I started my weight loss journey, I have lost 125 pounds.

My weight-loss journey really changed how I view myself. It made me realize just how capable I am and the mental toughness that I have. Something I always encourage others to do prior to beginning any transformation is to understand their “why” and to make sure it’s sustainable.

Weight loss shouldn’t be solely about aesthetics. I believe the priority should be overall health and wellness, and any sort of body transformation could follow if desired. This is how you achieve sustainable results. If you ask high performing athletes and long-time fitness enthusiasts what keeps them going, I don’t think anyone would say it’s because of their six pack. I’m sure they would express a love for their sport or the therapeutic elements that come with exercise and eating well!

To me, this journey has been about self-care in its most ultimate form. It is so important to understand that all bodies are worthy irrespective of size, shape and color. We all deserve to have our bodies treated with love and respect through movement and nourishment.

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