Maintain Weight Loss and Health Through Food with Karen Parrott

Episode #16 of Becoming Elli – Fit, Strong Women Over 50

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In today’s podcast, we talk with Karen Parrott, a popular blogger who writes about her weight loss journey and how to maintain weight loss. You can find her blog at Garden Girl, Weight Maintenance and Food Sobriety by abstaining from sugars, grains (NSNG) using a Paleo, LCHF, modified AIP, mild Ketogenic food template with a Primal Blueprint lifestyle. If you’re wondering what exactly all that means, we get Karen to define this and describe her way of eating in more detail.

How Karen Lost Weight

Karen Parrott is a 52 year old Licensed Medical Technologist living in Carlsbad, CA. She began gaining excess weight as a child and struggled with yo-yo dieting, obesity, morbid obesity, and binge eating until she was 46.

In 1997, Karen was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and takes synthetic thyroid hormone replacement with great success. She also focuses on her diet to support her health.

In May of 2011, a month after a co-worker died suddenly, Karen decided to lose weight by using a packaged weight loss plan and a health coach. She lost 70 pounds in 40 weeks. She says, “the first thing I did at goal weight was to go into menopause! I transitioned onto Paleo (it fit well with my post-auto immune disease), then onto Low Carb.”

Finally, after an 8 to 10-pound unintentional weight regain, she tried a fasting protocol from The Salk Institute, from Dr. Satchin Panda’s lab. Switching to 16:8 fasting most days (16 hours of fasting with a 8-hour window for eating) helped Karen lose that regained weight slowly over half a year back to maintenance. It also produced the same low levels of ketosis that helped her lose the weight in 2011, without having to buy the packaged food.

Maintain Weight Loss

Karen uses about 20 different weight maintenance tools with abstaining from her binge triggers as the top tool.

She measures and records the following at various times:

  • glucose
  • ketones
  • weight
  • hemoglobin
  • A1C,
  • high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-crp)
  • triglycerides,
  • bone density

She wears a Fitbit and tracks her weight and food on My Fitness Pal.

For exercise Karen walks 5- 6 miles daily, stair runs 3-4 days a week for intervals, and she goes to the gym to do resistance training one or two times a week. Karen says she often does stretching, pushups and some flexibility movements.

In this episode, we talk with Karen about:

  • How she lost 70 pounds
  • How she has kept the 70 pounds off for more than 6 years
  • The food template she uses to select her daily meals
  • How she exercises

Chris “met” Karen online in 2012 when Chris hit her goal on Weight Watchers and was looking for resources on maintaining a weight loss. “I feel it is strange when one person knows someone from reading their blog, but they don’t know the other person,” Chris says. This is how we support each other these days. We meet and get to know each other from social media, forums, blogs, and podcasts.

Karen’s Tips

Karen follows a low carb eating plan. She identified foods that cause her problems by following an Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). She describes this in her food discussion with us. Based on the results of this protocol, Karen realized that besides avoiding grains and dairy, she also needed to quit eating nuts.

Karen says that we all need to do the research and figure out what works best for each of us. Some of us can eat a lot of carbs while others cannot. What works for Karen may not work for me and what works for me may not work for you.

Perhaps the best advice that Karen gives is not to be apologetic about what you eat or don’t eat. She suggests that we all need to be methodical about our eating. Nobody can tell us more about what makes us feel the best than ourselves. Don’t let others make you feel embarrassed about how you choose to eat.

Karen is a researcher by training and clearly loves to research the different ways we can support our health.  The following are links to the different books and sites that she refers to in our talk:


Refuse to Regain!: 12 Tough Rules to Maintain the Body You’ve Earned by Barbara Berkley MD Kindle or Softcover

The Paleo Solution  Robb Wolf

Paleo resource Sarah Fergoso

AltShift Diet, Jason Sieb

The Four Tendencies   Gretchen Rubin –

23andMe DNA Genetic Testing & Analysis – 23andMe is the first and only genetic service available directly to you that includes reports that meet FDA standards. Use your 23andme raw genetic data to learn the environmental and lifestyle contexts research suggests may be best suited to your genetic polymorphisms.

Found My Fitness – A website by Dr. Rhonda Patrick – a Ph.D in biomedical science/expert on nutritional health, brain & aging. The focus is on genetics with a database where you can run your 23andMe report.

Promethease is a computer program developed by the SNPedia team which allows users to compare personal genomics results against the SNPedia database, generating a report with information about a person’s attributes, such as propensity to diseases, based on the presence of specific single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)

Franziska Spritzler – Low carb dietitian

Cleveland Clinic Function Medicine

Dr. Mark Hyman

Satchin Panda, Ph.D.- Salk Institute

Rhonda Patrick and Satchin Panda, Ph.D. have worked together on the benefits of a Low Carb diet. Watch this interview to learn more.

Gut microbiome may have its own circadian rhythm. Check out My Circadian clock app

Dr. Jason Fung

Ruth E. Patterson – Fasting and Breast Cancer

Valter Longo, Ph.D.

The Salt Fix

AIP – Auto Immune Protocol (elimination diet)

Vinnie Tortorich   NSNG – No Sugars No Grains –

Anna Vocino – Eat Happy

Ultra runner NSNG Zack Bitter

Adele Hite Easy Vintage Meals 


Hashimoto’s Disease: Auto Immune disease

High sensitivity C reactive protein (CRP)

IRB approved study – Institutional Review Board of the US Food and Drug Administration

Intermittent fasting 12:12 or 18:6. Eating early in the day is referred to as Early Time Restricted Eating

Otto Warburg Effect

BRAF Gene Mutation

How to contact Karen Parrott:

Blog: Garden Girl

Instagram: Karenspaleolife

Twitter: @Gardengirl_kp

Facebook: Garden Girl KP – Weight Maintenance and more 

Pinterest: Gardengirlkp

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