Kristina Guice had always been “the fat kid in school,” she says, so when the Tucson, Arizona, native got accepted to graduate school across the country in Long Island, New York, she decided this was her opportunity to make a change.
Guice, 25, had recently lost a close friend — who had also been her weight loss inspiration — and got accepted to graduate school just two weeks later. The two major life events made her want to get serious about finally losing weight.
“I was like, ‘Here is my someday,'” she tells PEOPLE. “I could to a grad school program with people across the country who I’ve never met before, and I could be who I want to be.”
“I was like, I can do that — and I can still eat cheese!” she says of the diet that entails restricting carbs and eating fats as fuel instead. “I had heard about low-carb before and I thought I could never give up bread, but then I started reading about all you can still have.”
Even though Guice was still able to eat dairy, eliminating carbs meant an extreme overhaul in her current diet.
“It was carbs all day every day — cereal for breakfast, nachos or a sandwich for lunch, pizza or pasta for dinner,” she says of her typical daily diet. “I didn’t really like vegetables so I rarely ate salad. Bread was the love of my life, and I didn’t understand what an appropriate portion was, so I was just eating however much I wanted.”
WATCH: Jada Pinkett Smith’s Weight-Loss Secrets
Now Guice gets a very small number of carbs from leafy greens, and sticks to a diet of mainly meat, vegetables and cheese.
“A standard dinner would be spinach and chicken thighs cooked in butter, so I have the fat, the protein and then the leafy green as my carbs,” she says. “That was a big change from having pasta with pasta and a side of pasta!”
Although it was hard to give up her beloved carbs, Guice was motivated to stay on track once she started losing weight.
“Seeing the results right away was super motivating,” she says. “I lost 11 lbs. in the first two weeks. I kept motivated by turning it into a habit. Now it feels weird not to go to the gym or not to log how many carbs I’m having. I do it because it’s what I do.”
When Guice returned home after graduate school, she started her Ellipticalifragilistic Instagram account — which now has 23.5k followers — to keep up with her weight loss goals.
“I really wanted to hit 100 lbs. down so I started an Instagram for more motivation and accountability,” she says. “I loved looking at other people’s fitness and weight loss accounts on Instagram, and having a community, especially other keto people, to see people’s food, and making friendships has made it a lot more fun. [It’s motivating] having people to talk to and get feedback from.”
On Guice’s 25th birthday in November, she reached her goal of losing 100 lbs., and says the best part of her weight loss journey has been “discovering I had cheekbones.”
“I never thought I had cheekbones!” she says. “Shopping is a lot more fun too, and being able to have five racks of clothes to choose from instead of a half rack of plus-size clothing has been a big thing.”