As a teen, Ms Primela Rajandran always had irregular periods. From time to time, her weight would also spike mysteriously even though she wasn’t eating a lot more.
When she was 21, she decided to get herself checked after discharging a “blood clot the size of [her] hand”. She was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a common hormonal disorder among women that can cause drastic weight gain in a short period of time.
She recalled her doctor’s words to her: “The uterus lining thickening is very concerning. You need [to] go for surgery to scrape [off] the lining and check for precancerous cells.”
She added: “After I got the surgery done, I remember I was bleeding like crazy.”
She was put on birth control pills to regulate her hormones and control her blood flow, but they made her gain even more weight. When her weight soared to 122 kg, she started to become obsessed with losing weight.
“I couldn’t look [at] myself in the mirror for a long time because I didn’t like what I [saw],” she said.
Ms Rajandran tried many extreme diets to bring down the numbers on the weighing scale. She tried calorie deficit, South Beach Diet, water fasting, intermittent fasting and the boiled-food diet. They all didn’t work.
Her worst experience was with the boiled-food diet despite it being her most successful attempt at weight loss. “I was stressing my body to the point where I would eat boiled food every time in [controlled] portions,” said Ms Rajandran. She also pushed herself to run almost daily.
This lifestyle lasted for eight months. “I started losing hair. You could literally see the scalp,” she said. She also experienced other symptoms like fatigue and dizziness.
“I went to the doctor and he said I [was] lacking a lot of nutrients and minerals. My vitamin D [was] totally low and so was my heart rate. At that point, I lost about 30 kg,” she recalled. “He told me to stop whatever I was doing.”
Putting a halt to her boiled-food diet, Ms Rajandran turned to other methods like weight-loss supplements and appetite suppressants. She also tried eating clean which worked on some days but eventually, her weight still remained high at 95 kg.
“It was just a vicious cycle for a good 10 years. In 2019, I literally saw myself gaining back all the weight again. I told myself, maybe this is what I’m meant to live with. I’m never going to become the way that I want myself to be,” Ms Rajandran said. “I had given up on myself at that point of time.”
She then came across a documentary that used to be on Netflix, The Magic Pill. The show talked about the ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low-carb diet followed by people who are eager to lose weight quickly.
Ms Rajandran’s mind was blown away as she found out that the ketogenic diet was originally a treatment for epilepsy. She did more in-depth research and read testimonials of people who have tried the diet.
“PCOS didn’t come up but I told myself, people are losing weight. Maybe I’ll try one more time,” she said.
She was advised by her ex-colleague to try “dirty keto” where she can consume anything just without the carbs. She avoided any form of starches and found alternatives to curb her sweet tooth.
“I was having things like bunless burgers and Subway salads. I saw a little bit of fat loss. Just very, very slight,” Ms Rajandran said.
Deciding to continue with the “dirty keto” diet, she then discovered exogenous ketone supplements that burn down body fat to be used as a primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates.
The pairing of the supplement along with her ‘dirty keto’ was working. “I started feeling better about myself. I had more energy levels. I was not hungry all the time,” she said.
She decided to do a full hormone panel test 15 months into her new lifestyle.
“Congratulations, you managed to reverse your PCOS! Continue what you’re doing. Don’t stop, because I think this is the lifestyle that works for you,” Ms Rajandran recalled her doctor’s exact words after looking at her test results in November 2020.
“I know that I will never meet the doctor’s standard of ideal BMI. But I know that as long as I’m metabolically healthy, I’m happy. It was a very long journey,” she noted happily.
She was 75 kg the last time she weighed herself.
She was never alone. Ms Rajandran’s biggest cheerleader is her beloved mother, who supported and motivated her throughout her journey.
Ms Rajandran is now a certified Keto Mastery Specialist. She specialises in guiding people on how to follow a proper ketogenic diet as well as providing one-to-one coaching for women who are struggling with PCOS.
She also shares about her entire journey on TikTok, hoping to inspire those who are going through similar situations as her.
“You are not defined by your weight. Concentrate on metabolic health rather than the number on the scale,” Ms Rajandran said.
And this is what she would tell her younger self: “To the old Prim, life is not easy. There’ll be a lot of challenges thrown at you. But just know that you will eventually become someone important in somebody’s life,” she said.
While the keto diet is successful for Ms Rajandran, it is not for everyone. Do seek medical advice before trying any form of extreme diet.
We amended the headline on 22 Aug after Ms Rajandran shared that she miscommunicated her weight during the interview.