Francesco Verelli remembers being a “chubby kid” who tended to eat his way through his feelings. Things became especially difficult for him when his father passed away. Only 16 at the time, he felt lost and his impulse control “went out the window.”
“I steadily gained weight for years after that and found myself at a little over 500 pounds (227 kg) at my worst,” said Verelli. “I'm fairly tall (6'3” or 1.9 m) so I didn't fully look 500 pounds but I definitely was.”
The moment he knew he should lose weight happened when he got a new job in downtown Montreal at age 24. He was insecure about the way he looked and felt. Constantly being around lots of people in the city helped him snap into the idea that he needed a change.
“Truly it was a general feeling of unhappiness and complete lack in confidence. I just couldn't look at myself anymore and what I had turned into,” he said. “I couldn't give in to impulse anymore and I just needed a healthy lifestyle change.”
Verelli learned about Dr. Berg through Facebook, after searching keto groups on social media. He then looked through Dr. Berg’s YouTube channel and found the videos to be “extremely insightful and helpful.”
“The most helpful lesson I learned from Dr. Berg was that you shouldn't follow traditional ‘health’ and ‘diet’ staples that have been the norm for years — such as eating a lot of fruits, having a lot of snacks and of course, going low fat,” said Verelli. “I've seen the benefits of a high-fat keto diet and I know that's the lifestyle for me and I follow it.”
Having the support of his family and friends, especially when people recognized how committed he was, helped reinforce for him that he was on the right track. “The most important thing is how you feel through your journey but a strong support system will help to make your journey easier,” he said.
Still, adapting to a new lifestyle isn’t easy. “Before I had started keto I was relatively lazy (hence the weight gain) and got used to eating very unhealthy foods,” said Verelli. “Adapting to a gym routine, an eating schedule (instead of on impulse), and a restrictive diet was quite difficult for me. Now I thank myself for having [gone] through with it, and the presence of routine makes weight loss much easier.”
Now, he feels “absolutely fantastic.” He no longer gets mental fog from large meals, he feels energized throughout the day, and meals keep him satiated longer. “With the physical change came fantastic mental changes. I feel more confident than ever, I look better, I can buy clothes from regular stores now and not ‘big and tall,’” he said. “In general, I just feel better in every aspect of my life.”
Seeing progress really helped Verelli to stay motivated. The fact that he felt better made keto easier. “I never felt bloated with this lifestyle,” he said. “No bloating led to no food guilt and I just generally felt better every single day. How can you give up with that kind of change?”
Even with the expected ups and downs of committing to a new lifestyle, Verelli is confident that he wouldn’t have changed anything about his journey. When he first started dieting, he lost 60 pounds (27 kg) just from cutting refined carbs and sugar, but when he truly adopted the keto way of eating, coupled with weight training, he lost 200 pounds (91 kg).
“Feeling comfortable in my own skin and mentally clear and confident has done wonders for me,” he said. “Just walking into a room without wondering what everyone thinks I look like has had such a positive impact on my life. [I’m] nowhere near as self-conscious as I used to be.”
Favorite Way to Exercise: Stairmaster
Favorite Keto Recipe: “When I want a keto “cheat meal,” I'll go with cauliflower mac and cheese with ground Italian sausage!” said Verelli. “I absolutely love it and can eat it guilt-free.
“For any other time, it would be a simple plate of avocado, broccoli and a lovely piece of salmon (with the skin for those omega fats).”
Keto Mac and Cheese Recipe
Follow Verelli on Instagram @francescoinmtl