‘With A High-Protein PCOS Diet And Hiking, I Lost 80 Pounds And Healed From My Traumatic Past’

My name is Breanna Potter (@thatonehealthyteacher), and I’m 26 years old. I live in northeastern Oklahoma on the Cherokee Nation Reservation, and I’m a high school teacher in western Arkansas. I struggled with my weight throughout my life after experiencing childhood trauma, until I embarked on a healing journey, prioritized my health, started eating a diet that made me feel good (high-protein, high-fiber for polycystic ovary syndrome), and began hiking and weight lifting.

From the time I was in kindergarten, I was overweight. As a child, I was active and played soccer, but still struggled consistentlywith my weight. At the age of 8 years old, I went on my first “diet” through a pediatric weight-loss program at my doctor’s office. Since then, I have tried every diet imaginable. You name it, I tried it.

In my early teens. I started struggling with my mental health and school.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At 14, my world crashed in around me. My dad, who was my best friend, died. It destroyed me. Just a few months later I had a massive knee surgery that left me bedridden for months. My surgeon told me surgery was my only option to fix the deformity and alleviate the constant pain I was in. Even then, I was told I would still probably lose function of my knee by the time I was 30. I missed nearly an entire semester of school and quickly reached over 280 pounds.


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While I was dealing with this turmoil, I also faced verbal and physical abuse from someone in my life, and it continued until late 2011, when I was a senior in high school.

At 17, I had no idea who I was or how to put the pieces of my life back together. The grief and abuse I was dealing with left me a shell of my former self. Over the past nine years, I’ve struggled to put back the pieces. I struggled with drug use, abusive relationships, sexual assault, and financial instability, but I’ve managed to turn all of it into the amazing life I’ve built for myself now. ⁣


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I embarked on an eight-year healing journey to pick up the pieces of my life and decide who I wanted to be.

In December 2019, my weight was its highest. I was only sleeping a few hours a night and had zero energy throughout the day. I remember being out of breath just walking around my classroom every day. I could not physically walk for more than a few minutes without being exhausted. I was also dealing with digestion issues and polycystic ovary syndrome, a.k.a. PCOS.

I spent a lot of time reflecting on the last decade of my life. Once I accepted that I was ready to forgive and move on, I decided it was time to prioritize myself for the first time in my life. I made a list of goals for myself that fit within the following categories: health, financial, career, and personal.


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Not a single goal was centered around weight loss, but instead how I could improve my life.


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The weight loss first came about as I started making changes to address the trauma that had caused me to gain so much of the weight I was carrying. I made eating changes that initially revolved around what I could eat to make my body feel its best.

Since I have digestion problems and PCOS, eating a high-protein, high-fiber diet is what feels best for me. My body doesn’t tolerate things like soy or high-carb foods, so I needed to eliminate that from my diet. I eat lots of veggies and lean meats, and focus on foods that I enjoy.


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Here’s what I eat in a day.

  • Breakfast: Protein bar or protein shake/smoothie/coffee. I am not hungry in the morning, but have found that eating about every three to four hours helps my energy and blood sugar and hunger levels later on in the day. It was also a recommendation by my doctor to eat more frequently.
  • Lunch: Typically 4-5 oz. of lean meat, veggies, a fat source, and sometimes a high-fiber carb, like turkey patties with avocado and roasted veggies.


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  • Snacks: I usually have two snacks: rice cakes with tuna and Laughing Cow cheese, and another high-protein snack like turkey jerky.
  • Dinner: A big salad with whatever I have in the fridge. It usually includes bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, ½ oz. of cheese, and dressing. I also have 4-5 oz. of lean meat like ground turkey or chicken, and a carb source such as high fiber/protein mac and cheese.
  • Dessert: High-protein Greek yogurt with berries and hemp hearts or almonds.


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I started exercising slowly by adding in some short walks.

I didn’t start working out right away. I was not in any physical condition to go hop on a treadmill or attend a class.


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Within about two months, I joined a gym in a local town so I could start weight lifting again. Two weeks later, everything closed due to COVID. When COVID hit, I didn’t know what to do because I had never enjoyed at-home workouts. I went back to what I knew and started walking again. Eventually, I started hiking and making that my daily workout. I did that for several months until gyms reopened.

Now, I lift weights and do 10 to 20 minutes of cardio four to five times a week. I enjoy building muscle and feeling like a badass. Working out again has been incredible for my mental health and gives my day the structure it needs.


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These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight-loss results.


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I have lost over 80 pounds in less than a year.

Losing weight for me is only a small part of this journey. The primary focus of this season of my life has been about healing for me. This is about healing the brokenness in my life and using it for good. The truth of it all is that trauma is something that many of us carry around throughout our lives acting as an anchor preventing us from reaching our goals.

My story isn’t unique. It’s one of a thousand. For so many women, the idea of taking time away from their responsibilities to focus on healing seems daunting and selfish. The truth is that healing is possible and your health is worth the investment.

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