Sitting in a Red Cross shelter after being evacuated from her home by the National Guard, Nina Bersamina felt lost and broken. Her back hurt under the strain of unwanted weight, her
nerves craved a soothing sugary snack and her body was too fatigued to move.
Resting her head in her hands, Nina touched hair that seemed as fragile as her current living situation. “I feel so alone,” she thought. I have no idea how to restart my life. If ever there was a time to stress eat, Nina had found it. Her neighborhood had just been devoured by ash and lava after the eruption of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island.
And now Nina’s health problems, like pre-diabetes and chronic pain, were erupting as well. Not feeling good on the inside was
even showing on the outside. “I was a mess,” confesses Nina, whose hair had been thinning from a thyroid imbalance even before getting stripped by volcanic acid rain.
Nina glimpsed a sliver of hope in her situation, however, when she heard the owner of a local taco truck mention that she had lost weight on the keto diet. Nina recognized, “With everything so
out of control in my life externally, I wanted to regain control of the one thing I could: my health.”
Starting around the holidays, Nina knew she needed to learn
how to “ketofy” her favorite family recipes like tamales. She explains, “I had no friends when I was displaced to the mainland. I felt isolated, but then I found the Instagram keto community, and everyone was so supportive. I wasn’t alone anymore fighting this battle.”
She adds, “My new keto friends became my lifeline. I would
stay up late chatting with them online about easy recipes, swaps, and health hacks.” (follow Nina on Instagram at @PNWketoboochie.)
That’s how Nina learned to use fat-bomb treats to satisfy her cravings and pre-make breakfast bites with eggs, cheese, and meat in cupcake tins. She loved how customizable and sustainable the lifestyle could be — and that everything she needed to be successful was free.
She says with a laugh, “I made so many mistakes in the beginning, like eating the wrong pizza or drinking sugary coffees. It’s trial and error and you have to be forgiving with yourself, but I learned which foods worked for my body.”
And when she lost five pounds overnight, she never looked back.
After about a month, Nina’s body began burning stored fat, lessening her appetite so she could easily eat intuitively. “I was literally changing my body from the inside out and healing my endocrine system with delicious, satisfying foods.”
In 10 months, Nina released 60 pounds and her husband shed 45. “I’m a fat-burning machine now. I have never felt better in my entire life. Keto saved me in more ways than one!”
Despite everything she has gone through in the past year, Nina
now radiates positivity. “My hair is growing and it’s strong. My skin
is healthy and glowing.” With her health problems gone, she feels
energized enough to return to her favorite activity: hula dancing. She even volunteered at a hula festival in her new hometown.
“I want to inspire other natural disaster victims and everyday women who feel in a rut that there is a realistic way of reinventing yourself.” She adds, “I’ve come a long way. If cauliflower can become pizza, I can transform myself after my huge ordeal into something wonderful too!”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Keto Over 50.