Weight Loss Solved: How Intermittent Fasting Helped Diabetic Entrepreneur Lose 20 Pounds

intermittent fasting

Trudy Ann Tellis, who once struggled to control her diabetes, says she looks at intermittent fasting as a "medical intervention." Photo: Courtesy of Trudy Ann Tellis

Many Canadians have tried hard to lose weight — more than 60 per cent of us are obese or overweight, according to Statistics Canada — and been frustrated by the lack of results. But instead of giving up, perhaps they should try something else.

Not every strategy works for every person, and science backs that up, says Dr. Shahebina Walji, medical director of the Calgary Weight Management Centre. As one of the co-authors of the upcoming Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Obesity, Walji has been combing the literature.

“A big theme we have come across is that weight-loss approaches need to be tailored to the individual,” she says. “There’s no cookie-cutter approach that works for everyone.”

Here, we introduce you to Trudy Ann Tellis, owner of an organic masala chai and spice business in Vancouver, who lost part of her pancreas after a bout of pancreatitis. In 2006, when she settled in Vancouver with her young family, she was taking medication that made her joints ache and caused her to pile on the pounds.

In our Weight Loss Solved series,  we hope these personal stories inspire you on your own  journey to happiness and health.

The situation: Managing Diabetes

The solution: Intermittent Fasting

Her Challenge

Tellis did her best to follow a “clean” organic diet. But no matter how well she felt she was eating, she couldn’t slow the insulin-fuelled weight gain or reduce her fasting blood sugars. “Nothing was working to lower my blood sugars,” she says. “I was convinced I would gain 100 pounds.”

What Worked For Her

In 2017, Tellis discovered a website and book about intermittent fasting. With this approach, carbs are counted and nutrition intake happens during set time periods, followed by long hours of fasting. Tellis thought she could stick to it. “I’m the kind of person who does something 100 per cent.” After losing 20 pounds on her own but still taking insulin a few times a week, she consulted an expert to customize her regimen.

Her Outcome

Tellis now only uses insulin about four times a month, usually when she’s stressed, sleep-deprived or ate dinner late. The weight has stayed off, her joints no longer hurt and her energy has improved. Tellis has started her own online course to share her cooking methods. She plans to follow a low-carb diet and intermittent fasting for the rest of her life. “I look at it like a medical intervention.”

The Doctor Weighs In

If you try intermittent fasting, a registered dietitian can ensure you’re not depriving yourself of nutrients and that you’re taking in enough calories. Studies that compare intermittent fasting to other reduced-calorie diets haven’t shown a significant advantage, says Walji, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. “There are lots of different ways to lose weight, but many of them are not sustainable,” she says. “Always keep in mind that weight is relentless. If you stop a diet intervention, the weight will come back.” It boils down to how well a diet fits your life and whether you can see yourself following it forever. “If the answer is yes to those two, I don’t think there’s any harm in trying, as long as you meet your nutritional requirements.”

A version of this article appeared in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue with the headline, “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” p. 66-72.