#TFMsuccess: The Story of Maria Espino

By Jason Fung, MD

My name is María Eugenia Espino, I was born in Panama in 1980. Ever since I was little I was known for being a big and “chubby” girl. At 8 years old I started to suffer from strong and frequent headaches. The doctor told my parents and I that my triglyceride levels were well above what was considered normal even for adults . I still remember the day the doctor said to me, “If you don’t want to die, you have to stop eating sweets” those words marked me for life. I was really scared. I completely stopped eating sweets until I managed to feel better and improve my triglyceride levels. Despite my great efforts, however, I didn’t lose any weight at that time.

Over the years I continued to gain weight, and when I turned 15 I wanted to be thin like my friends. My parents took me to a nutritionist, and that’s how I officially started my first of the many diets for the next 23 years. At that time, I managed to lose weight, restricting calories doing almost 2 hours of daily exercises. I have always been disciplined and very determined. I was happy because I lost weight.

The did manage to keep the weight off for a while, always exercising and counting calories. After college graduation, I started working and I started to gain weight again. I went to another well-known nutritionists in my country, but this time it was much harder to lose weight. I remember that when I turned 24 I was more 50 pounds overweight, and that year I decided to try losing again. I started another rigorous diet of lettuce and broiled chicken, zero fat of course, and I managed to lose the extra pounds after a few months. I was able to maintain that weight off for a year but then I went back up. Story of my life.

At 26, I got married and instead of losing weight with all the wedding stress, I gained even more. On my wedding day the dress almost didn’t zip up and that was only 1 month since the last fitting. I had gained 20 pounds in that short time.

At 28 my husband and I wanted to start a family and started trying to conceive, despite our efforts, I could not get pregnant. That’s when I asked for the help of my gynecologist. He is a very well-known fertility specialist and obstetrician in my country. I did 3 IVF treatments in one year. Each of these required injections loaded with hormones. Nothing worked and after the second year, I was emotionally worn out. My gynecologist asked for my permission to perform a laparoscopy. Despite not having the common symptoms, he suspected endometriosis. During the procedure he basically “cleaned” the inside. The laparoscopy was in February 2010, and in March I was pregnant with my first daughter, who was born in November of that year.

I had many complications during that pregnancy such as high blood pressure and I gained an additional 50 pounds, which complicated everything. My daughter was born at 36 weeks, with a fairly normal weight and size. I spent more than 1 year with high blood pressure, of the 50 pounds that I gained during pregnancy, I only managed to lose 20. Since I started gaining weight again, I tried diets recommended by nutritionists, but I didn’t have time to exercise much and much less counting calories. This time it didn’t work like when I was younger and I was frustrated.

In 2014 I got pregnant again. Because of my weight, my doctor referred me to another nutritionist. I followed his instructions to the “T”, eating 6 times a day, measured and weighed food. My baby was born premature again, but weighing close to 9 pounds at only 34 weeks. He had to stay in an incubator for 3 days because it was so big it was very difficult for him to breathe. I felt miserable and worried. I knew I had to do something for my health, but I didn’t know what else to do. Everything I had tried was no longer working. I now weighed 285 pounds, at 1,72 cm. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries, and during both pregnancies I had venous insufficiency with venous reflux in both legs. My ankles were always swollen. During both pregnancies I took medication to prevent thrombosis.

My father was so worried that he wrote me a letter, in which he asked me to take care of myself for the sake of my children. Deep down I felt even more depressed because I knew that the people I loved were worried about me, but I also knew that they judged me and deep down they thought I was the one who failed, that it was I who did not have the willpower to lose weight.

After my second pregnancy, I only managed to lose a few pounds and my weight bounced between 237 and 247 pounds. The latter was the weight I had at the beginning of this year, 2018. Because of my weight I had to undergo knee surgery.

During recovery from surgery, I started to follow the advice of another renowned nutritionist. His plan was unlike others I had followed. He recommended eating only 4 times a day, even though it was still based on calories. Between January 2018 to June 2018 I lost some weight down to 231 pounds, my lowest weight for the last 3 years at least. I still felt depressed and frustrated, because I felt that I was losing control of my health. I did consider gastric surgery and even made an appointment with a bariatric surgeon. I was willing to try the gastric sleeve. My husband, however, was not very convinced and he insisted that I should keep looking for a more natural alternative. I booked the operation for October 2018, and we made a deal that if I found something that would help me lose at least 25 lbs In 3 months, I would cancel the surgery.

How did I get to TFM? I’ll tell you … One afternoon I was having a protein bar recommended by my nutritionist. A friend of mine at the office mentioned that she had read on a website that those might not be very good for you. That was the end of May or beginning of June of 2018. I immediately went to the website to read up on it. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t good for me because the label said it only had 2 grams of net carbohydrates. I kept reading and browsing the website and came across an article on Intermittent Fasting. There was a link that took me directly to the TFM page and that’s how I heard of Dr. Fung and the program. First, I bought the The Code of Obesity book, then I decided to enrol in the Online Coaching sessions. This could be my last chance before undergoing gastric surgery. This has been without a doubt the most successful decision I have made in my life and definitely the best investment in my health that I have made.

I started with Nadia the 3rd week of June, if I remember correctly, and immediately began to try fasting. First, shorter IF periods of 24 hours, then every week I tried to extend the fasts. I read a lot of success stories on the Facebook page, which helped me stay focused and motivated. I started losing weight progressively. I have learned a lot in the last few months, but most importantly, how to take control of my health, understand my body and how to keep my insulin low. I learned that eating low carbohydrates, moderate protein and high fat is the best thing I can do to my body and I stay in ketosis. Each week I schedule my fasts and try to alternate their duration. I learned to listen to my body, I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I choose food based on quality because I know how important it is to nourish myself correctly. I feel happy and encouraged. The change in me has been remarkable, everyone notices, but most importantly, I have managed to find peace of mind, now I feel ownership of my health and my body. I feel perfect harmony between body, mind and soul, all thanks to TFM and my super Coach Nadia, who in every session knows exactly what to recommend to my specific needs.

When I started TFM, I weighed 231 pounds, I wore a size 16-18; today, less than 6 months later, I weigh 180 pounds and wear a size 12-14; my goal is to get to 150 pounds and wear a size 8-10 by my 39th birthday in April 2019.

My favorite protocol is the one that I adapt according to my week. I follow the No. 1 “rule” of TFM, make fasting part of your lifestyle.  Because of this, I feel that I will be able to sustain this healthy lifestyle. I feel happy and proud to belong to this beautiful family.

By The Fasting Method

For many health reasons, losing weight is important. It can improve your blood sugars, blood pressure and metabolic health, lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. But it’s not easy. That’s where we can help.

Jason Fung, MD

By Jason Fung, MD

Jason Fung, M.D., is a Toronto-based nephrologist (kidney specialist) and a world leading expert in intermittent fasting and low-carb diets.

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