Editor’s note: Each month we feature a column titled “Coach’s Corner” wherein we put the spotlight on our coaches so that you, dear reader, can get a better idea of who they are and why they do what they do. Check back next month to see which of our coaches we talk to next!
Linda McFarland is an everywoman.
She’s a mid-fifties wife and mother of three, who prides herself on her cooking and budgeting skills. Always ready with a big, Texas, “Howdy!” for anyone she meets- delivered in a dainty Southern drawl, of course- Linda describes herself as a “chat over coffee kind-of-gal,” and has dubbed herself the “Queen of Turtles” in reference to the speed of her own weight loss and health journey.
Born and raised in West Central, Illinois, Linda moved to Texas in 1981, and she told me she considers her adopted state her “true home.” She currently works for her local church, but has spent much of her adult life and career as a home maker, caring for husband of 28 years and raising their three beautiful children.
Life for Linda wasn’t always so Leave-It-To-Beaver-style picturesque. Like many couples, she and her husband struggled with conceiving, and it was during this period her weight began its trek upwards. After fertility treatment- treatments which, she recalls, caused her to gain forty pounds in a month- and corrective reproductive surgery, Linda conceived her first child (a girl), and her twins three years later. Of her weight gain, she says, “[I] never quite got it off…..one thing led to another, three babies at home plus a husband in nursing school, and a tight budget means lots of rice and pasta dishes to make our pennies go further.”
That doesn’t mean Linda had completely given up on losing weight. She told me she tried various diets along the way- she named at least sixteen different programs she’d tried- but would eventually give up because it was “too hard,” and undo any progress she had made. Friends and family would encourage her to “live a little,” and so she would derail herself with cheats. To make matters worse, Linda was an expert at whipping up some old-fashioned comfort foods, and so her weight eventually spiraled completely out of her control.
By 2010, Linda’s health was in dire shape. Not only was she overweight, she had been diagnosed as having general auto-immune dysfunction (now the prime suspect in her earlier fertility troubles) and was hospitalized for deep vein thrombosis (DVT)- a foot+ long blood clot- in one of her legs that was nearly fatal. She also suffered from kidney stones, acute adhesive capsulitis (a frozen shoulder, characterized by a persistent pain and stiffness in the joint), and heart palpitations so serious that she underwent a cardiac catheterization. Linda lived in constant fear of a diabetes diagnosis; her sister had been diagnosed as Type II, and the same disease was a major factor in the passing of her father.
After years of yo-yo dieting, and a constantly flared immune system, Linda’s body simply did not want to release the excess weight, no matter what she tried. “Nothing worked, and I was at the end of my rope. I felt hopeless. I felt defeated. I wanted to die.”
It would have been so easy to give up, and give in. After all, most people simply accept that once they hit a certain age their bodies are just going to go down hill. Those extra pounds aren’t ever coming off and various conditions are just expected. It’s just life.
But Linda didn’t accept that, and that’s what makes her not just an everywoman, but an inspiration!
In 2015, she was chatting with a neighbor who mentioned wanting to try one of the more popular low carb diets. “A lightbulb clicked on,” she said. Linda had never managed to maintain a weight loss regiment, but her best successes in the past had come when she cut carbs, and so she decided to give it another go. She told herself that she was going to strictly stick to it for at least six months time, and within a few months she noticed a woman who had lost tremendous amounts of weight and had reversed a medical diagnosis with Ketogenic living. She began following this woman’s journey more closely, and noticed the woman was in one of the low carb groups she had joined, which is how Linda became more deeply involved in the Ketogenic Success Facebook group.
“I learned so much about macros, fasting, and more….All the years of starting and stopping, all the crash diets, all the carbage had taken their toll on my metabolism. It was wrecked.” Linda began incorporating the advice of the long-term members, and even though her weight loss was slow, it was finally coming off! She noted that she seemed to lose physical size much faster than the numbers on the scale were moving.
Not only was she finally losing weight, Linda’s physical ailments seemed to be reversing. Within a few weeks, the residual pain from her DVT that she had been dealing with for years had disappeared. She also noticed she was more rested, was sleeping soundly at night, and had stopped snoring. After two years of living a Ketogenic Lifestyle, Linda has lost over 75 pounds, can comfortably wear a size 10, and has greatly increased her physical mobility.
Linda doesn’t claim her Ketogenic journey has been easy. Her slow rate of loss was a sticking point along the way. “The voices in my head continually told me I was failing at yet another diet. I compared myself to others,” she told me. She felt like weight was “melting off” other people, while she fought through weeks of no losses to finally see the scale move down by a pound or so. “It was very discouraging, and took everything I had not to quit.”
But quit, she did not.
“Never measure your success with someone else’s yard stick,” is Linda’s favorite quote, because it’s a lesson she had to learn for herself! Insulin resistance and metabolic derangement are two conditions she became extremely familiar with. “I learned I was screwed up a lot more than I realized, and it was just going to take time.” Linda made the decision to stick with it and see what happened.
The woman whose Ketogenic journey had made such an impression upon her- and who took over a year to lose her weight and reverse her own medical conditions- became her inspiration, and she decided she wanted to be just like her. That woman was our own Coach Mary Roberts. Once Linda had overcome those voices in her head and achieved her own success, she followed in her mentor’s footsteps and became a Ketovangelist Coach herself.
Linda loves being able to chat with her clients about everything: not only macros and fasting, but also just life in general. She sees herself as the kind of coach that is emotionally supportive- just like your mom, or that favorite aunt or girlfriend. Her favorite thing about being a coach is being able to have a dialogue: “Like two gals sitting together over a cup of coffee and chatting,” she says. Linda told me she loves being a cheerleader, and she doesn’t just want to tweak her clients’ macros, she wants to really know who they are as people- where they are mentally- so she can help them move beyond their current struggles.
Always the consummate home maker, Linda firmly believes Keto does not have to be expensive, and prides herself on being able to help her clients maintain a nutrient-dense, Ketogenic lifestyle without breaking the bank. Her best advice? Shop sales.
I did an experiment about a year or so ago, and bought a ten pound bag of chicken leg quarters, two blocks of cream cheese, two packages of bacon, one head cauliflower, heavy cream, and a package of romaine hearts…..I fed our family of four for a week on that…..We had grilled chicken, lemon pepper chicken, Alfredo, chicken salad, and I made broth from the bones.
The cost? “Right at thirty dollars.”
Linda believes “if one chooses whole foods over processed convenience foods,” one can eat exceptionally well on a budget. “The front page of the grocery store ads are always their loss leaders. Many times I will [plan] my week’s meals based on what’s on sale that week.” Since meat seems to be a budget buster for most people, she advises to stock up and freeze when it’s on sale. Investing in a deep freezer- which Linda considers one of her favorite appliances- is a must, as most meats will keep there for around six months. She says the biggest meat deal you can get at almost every grocer is chicken leg quarters, which are rarely found at over seven dollars for around ten pounds or so. She also regularly shops at discount/warehouse type stores for deals on items like cheeses, butter, and cream.
When it comes to eating all that food, Linda is a big proponent of intuitive eating. “I seem most often to tell [clients] to eat when hungry, stop when full, and don’t eat if you’re not hungry!” Learning to listen to your own body’s signals is key to a healthy Ketogenic Lifestyle.
Linda is definitely an everywoman. Her life has so many familiar beats to it, and as I interviewed her, there were so many times I felt like her story could be my own. The thing that sets her apart is the inner strength and determination she found in the face of a series of serious health crises. When she told me of that period, she said, “I wanted to die.” It struck me that it would have been so easy to give up then, to just decide and accept that her life was going to go nowhere but down, and resigning herself to the idea that she would die much earlier than she wanted. Instead, she made a choice to live.
“I feel like instead of ‘living a little’ with cheat foods,” and continuing to live with illness, she continued, “I’m living a lot with Keto!”
Linda McFarland is just like you. She’s just like me, too. And she chose to live. That’s what makes her special.
We at Ketovangelist are delighted to have Linda as a part of our growing team of experts, ready and willing to help you formulate and maintain a healthy Ketogenic Lifestyle.