Elaina Wang is probably the most positive person I know. "I only live positive," she told me. "It is probably a lot of what has saved my life more than once."
That sentiment is quite literally true. Elaina is a former meth addict that not only kicked her habit, but also kicked diabetes and several other illnesses to the curb- all through sheer willpower and determination.
"I understand the hardship involved with addiction. I know the toll it takes, how it consumes you, and how in the moment nothing else matters. I learned to pull the mind out of that place, and to focus on positive happy things, goals, and looking toward a brigher future. It's really easy to say, 'I am going to stop this addiction,' but it is a lot harder to get your mind to follow."
She told me she was raised in a home-based child care facility. "I was a really sick kid, so it worked out for my mom to be able to stay home and take care of me." While she was young, she suffered through mononucleosis twice, and by the age of thirteen she had been diagnosed with Epstein-Barr syndrome (related to the mono virus, but a more severe variant that takes the form of extreme chronic fatigue), and had multiple gallstones that were misdiagnosed for two years. "It made me throw up when I ate, so [the doctors] diagnosed me as bulimic. By the time they figured it out, I was pretty much starving to death. They hooked me up to a feeding tube and rushed me to surgery."
After the trauma of her gallstones, she says she binge ate for some time. While she suspects her Type II diabetes had begun to set in by the age of 10, she believes it was fully operative after she began her binge eating. It was those binges that led to her initial weight gain.
In her teenage years, she did what most of us do: met a boy and fell in love. Elaina tells me she has always been a little rebellious, and so she followed her young man right out of her family home. It was under his influence that her meth addiction began. During this time, her diabetes was completely uncontrolled. "Sugar binging tends to be part of a meth-addicted life," she said. "You spend all the money on drugs, stay up for as long as you possibly can. Days turn to weeks. You run out of drugs, suddenly you are hungry because you don't eat on daily basis when high on meth."
She ate mostly junk food during this period, because it was what was available. "Sugar is the cheapest food you can find. Candy bars [are] two for one dollar. Also, food banks here give more cakes and cookies out than they do healthy food... You go to the food bank, scrounge for change, and binge-eat whatever cheap foods you can get your hands on." After several years of meth addiction, tragedy struck. At the age of twenty-four, the boy Elaina had followed died suddenly. He had undiagnosed Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder which causes many problems in the body's connective tissue and many times leads to severe heart problems.
Elaina was a mess after his death. It served to drive her further into the meth lifestyle. However, there was a light at the end of that dark tunnel. She found a partner- the man she now calls "Mr. Baby"- who was there for her in her darkest hours. He nursed her through the worst times, and after five years of being addicted and estranged from her family, she decided to quit. "I was scared of getting busted for meth," she told me. Mr. Baby is an immigrant, and had he been found with a known meth addict he faced potential deportation. Her rock, her support would have been gone. "I would have lost him."
How did she do it? "I just decided I'd had enough." She had one relapse in that time, but with love and patience from her supporters she pulled together the willpower to overcome the meth. However, her reliance on sugary foods was still going strong. "I ate a lot more food, gained more weight, and that topped me out at three hundred pounds."
As a diabetic, the situation was dire. She had beaten her drug addiction only to find herself in a world of sugar dependence that would, quite literally, kill her if she couldn't get it under control. She began asking questions on social media and was advised to begin testing her blood sugar. "It was really high, like over four hundred the first few tests. I started looking for ways to lower it naturally." She found that certain things she was doing affected her blood sugar readings. Her smoking habit seemed to raise her blood sugar and give her other physical troubles, and so she quit. Daily walks also helped to lower her glucose readings.
"I wanted it below one hundred twenty," she said, and so she began asking more questions. Her first real exposure to the low-carb lifestyle was through Dr. Eric Westman. After consuming as much of his information as she could, she joined a diabetes management group on Facebook and began living a more Ketogenic lifestyle. This group is also where she began using her experiences- both with managing her diabetes and general life experience- to help other people. "I jumped right in...I discovered [my] passion."
Elaina has now been living a ketogenic lifestyle for over two years. She reports that her weight is now less one hundred pounds and her last A1C check came back at 5.1, which is a non-diabetic reading. Keto has helped her get her blood glucose under control and manage her diabetes in a natural way. "I don't take any medications for blood sugar or anything else. All my past health issues just seemed to go away, and rapidly!" She also reports that her fight with multiple and constant candidia infections cleared up almost immediately with keto. The ketogenic lifestyle truly is the natural solution she was looking for.
Recently, she decided to channel her passion for keto and for helping others and became a Ketogenic Lifestyle Coach. She specializes in helping other diabetics get their disease under control using this lifestyle. Her best advice for diabetics? "Go all in with strict keto. You have to learn proper keto without treats, and gain control over your blood sugar." She tells me that only when blood glucose readings are stable and normal should one begin experimenting with adding in grey area foods and treats. "This is key, knowing how [certain foods] affect you and if [they] can be successfully included... without risking blood sugar control."
I asked her to weigh in on the ever-raging debate over sweeteners, and she told me she liked stevia, but that many other sweeteners- especially those marketed to diabetics as "sugar free" alternatives- could be hazardous to maintaining control over blood sugar. She also told me that all ketonians should be on guard for addiction to sweeteners. "I think if it's added in occasionally, that is fine. If it is something you need daily and will miss it if you don't [use it]... it's a habit or an addiction that needs to be addressed."
Elaina also has quite the heart for expecting and new mothers trying to maintain a healthy, ketogenic lifestyle. It's a touchy area that doesn't get much attention. "Many people seem to shy away from the subject," she told me. No one likes going against medical advice, and that seems to go double when mom is "eating for two." She said this aversion in the community gives her "more passion to help these women who want answers."
When I asked her about her coaching sessions, she told me she thinks her sessions are fun. "We laugh and learn." She sees her coaching as a form of therapy, and spends time helping her clients identify their struggles, come up with strategies to deal with them, and set attainable goals. "I build people up....it gives them confidence." And of course, she brings her trademark positivity into everything she does. "Never end a session with a negative thought," she insisted.
Elaina is still fairly young- she is in her early thirties- but she comes across as an old soul. Her battles with weight, disease, and addiction no doubt have afforded her a wisdom uncommon amongst her generation.
We here at Ketogenic Success are thrilled to have to Elaina, her positivity, and her will power on the team.