Hi, my name is Julie Westly. Online, I go by Annie. (Annie is my middle name, nick name given to me by my brothers.) I am the newest member to the CarbSmart family. I am very honored to be a part of such a knowledgeable, talented, group of low carbers like the people CarbSmart has enlisted in its rally for the low carb lifestyle. I will be writing articles based on interviews with fellow low carbers about the diet roller coaster rides they endured before they found low carbing. I will write about how they found the answer to their obesity and/or health problems through this way of life. As an introduction, I would like to share my own story.
I have been low carbing since Aug. 27, 2000. I have never found any weight loss program that is so easy to follow – with no hunger and such rapid weight loss – in my life. This way of eating is a dream come true!
I am 42 years old and I recently remarried for the last time a year ago on Valentine’s Day, and moved from a small town of 3,600 to the big city. I have two grown children, son, 23, and a daughter, 22. I have a new stepdaughter who is six. She is teaching me the beauty and joy of childhood all over again.
I have been heavy most of my life, partly genetic (my hips are the “family hips”) and partly from my upbringing. I have a mother who, I’m sure, is a carbohydrate addict. When I was a child, she would hoard chocolate, candy, and chips – all the time – hiding them in drawers, under things. It was unreal! She would send me to the store on my bike, or later “let me use the car” to go get her junk food a refill. Of course, part of my reward was to have some, too. Naturally, it was no problem to get me to run after her goodies.
Three things jump out at me, when it comes to this addiction to carbs and my childhood.
The first was stealing out of my Dad’s extensive coin collection to go buy a sugar fix. I still live with that guilt. Funny enough, the little mom and pop store I went to, never once called my folks. However, they did retire nicely.
The second was going to the swimming pool everyday for “exercise” and spending at least half the afternoon by the ice cream stand right outside the pool.
The third was when a girl friend and I were supposed to go to baton lessons every Tuesday. Instead, we skipped and sat in the ladies lounge downtown, right next to the bakery, stuffing ourselves on whatever our baton lesson money would buy. Cream filled and chocolate, gooey rolls, and other heavenly delights.
Through all of this, when my mother would get angry with me, she would always make reference to my weight, calling me names (not nice ones either). By the time I was 16, I had started on a diet roller coaster (none of them healthy) including Redux and anorexia.
As for low-carbing, all I have to say is, “Thank GOD, I finally know WHY I’m fat, and how to fix it, PERMANENTLY!”
As I mentioned, I have been heavy my whole life. The only exception was the year after my daughter was born. I had some doctor give me “diet pills” in 1979. They turned out to be speed. I also ended up anorexic.
Three years ago, I lost 35 pounds when taking Redux, the sister drug of Phen-Fen. As most of you probably know, it was pulled off the market due to reports of heart valve damage. I live daily with the fear that I did non-repairable damage in my obsessive search to lose weight. To date, I am waiting for the class action law suit to finalize which will pay for the very pricey tests for valve damage.
I have tried almost everything, Weight Watchers, walking three to six miles a day on a treadmill, joining a gym (and actually going). I have tried all the pills, Metabolite, Dextrin, Xenical, etc., etc. I have eaten low fat, high carbs, fruit diets, liquid diets… I’ve done Richard Simmons. None of the diets ever did anything. I would lose perhaps five pounds to begin with, then stall… Then I’d give up, and gain the five pounds back, often more. Most of the diets never made me feel better, only worse.
I managed to keep off the weight I had lost on Redux, or so I thought. When I moved here, I ran out of my 1 year thyroid pill refill. I got my yearly blood test and found out my TSH levels were so high, they were toxic. Something about the Redux had made me require more thyroid. My hometown doctor had given me a years prescription for a much higher dose. It was like being hyper thyroid, which, typically will keep you thin on its own. That was only the beginning of the weight gain, or the struggle to not gain weight again.
A few months later I had trouble with my one remaining ovary producing cysts every time I ovulated, to the point where they ruptured. I had to have another hysterectomy, this time total. It was no less painful. I was put on estrogen and progesterone. Side effects: WEIGHT GAIN! The doctor’s cure was to cut down the progesterone and lose the libido. I don’t think so! I am still a newlywed! Results: the scale kept climbing.
To top it off, I decided to start the millennium smoke free. At the stroke of midnight, I threw out my cigarettes, again…. HUGE weight gain. For the three months prior to finding low carbing, I had walked, worked out, and tried and failed again, until now.
I had heard about low carbing before, but never thought I could do it. I am allergic to eggs, lettuce, and broccoli. I thought and it would never work for me. I had two friends who had done this program successfully. They taken their weight off and (to my surprise) kept it off. One of them has maintained her weight loss for almost 5 years now. Low carb was pretty much the only thing I hadn’t tried. So out of desperation, I gave it a shot. Despite the egg intolerance, and not expecting it to work.
To make a long story not as long as it could be, I have lost 36 pounds already! (As of Jan. 4, 2001.) I am not hungry at all! I rarely have sugar cravings anymore! I feel wonderful! I don’t have persistent heart burn anymore! I am tolerating eggs to moderation! My ankles don’t swell up anymore! I can fix my family a “regular” meal and not want to sneak bites of what I can’t have. I know that I not only can stick with this way of eating for the rest of my life, but that I will be thin one day – one day soon! – and STAY that way. I have never been able to say that before, NEVER.
When I decided to low carb, I did not explore the options. I had no idea there were so many different low carb plans out there. I just knew I had a major problem with carbs. I had heard of low carbing, but never tried it (although I had tried nearly everything else). From somewhere in the depths of my memory came the Carbohydrates Addicts Diet. I went to eGroups and searched for a group, which is how I ended up with CALP (Carbohydrate Addicts Lifespan Program), and began low carbing on that program. (I had no idea what Atkins was at that point.) I just bought the book, and started.
I soon found I did not need the reward meal. What I did find was that I was having terrible sugar cravings. I needed something or I wouldn’t make it. On CALP, diet Jell-O and diet soda are not allowed through the day, only at the once-a-day reward meal. With the reward meal you could also, (as long as you balanced your meal between carbs, protein, fat, ate it within a 1 hour time span) basically have anything you wanted. But!! I needed SWEETS, at 10, 12, 2, 4, that first week!! It was terrible! So, without knowing anything about Atkins, I ate sugar free Jell-O (a pack a day) throughout the day. When it got really bad, I had a diet A&W root beer.
Not posting what I was doing, I just tried to stay low carb. The weight started melting off of me, so quickly that first week (15 pounds from start Sunday thru the next Sunday!). Then came weigh in….of course everyone was amazed, and wanted me to post my menu. By doing so I realized, through group members, that I was actually doing the Atkins’ Diet, rather than CALP.
I know that low carbing is the only way there is for me to lose weight. To say that there is only one plan that is right, is like saying there is only one shade of blue. I feel we each need to find what works for us. Experiment with different options within a plan, whatever we can live with. Trial and error is learning. I am definitely learning. If I am stuck, and something is working for others, I want to know about it. I may not agree with it, or find it doesn’t work for me, but I still would love to know. I assume most people feel the same way.
I am not pro-Atkins, or pro-CALP, CAD, Sugar Busters, or Protein Power. I am Pro-LOW CARB. I just personally find that Atkins is the plan that works best for me. I experiment to see what works. I don’t always follow the plan to a letter. I am very lucky that I can stray slightly in some directions and still lose. I can consume a high number of carbs and never go out of ketosis. Not everyone can. I feel this is why these different programs were developed.
I credit my support groups with much of my success. I am there to learn: methods, recipes, different techniques. I want to know about which vitamins would benefit me, ideas to regain my health, self esteem, and sanity. I need a support system on this journey. I need a peer group I can relate to. People in general don’t want to talk or listen to my obsession with low carbing unless they are doing it, or in need of an answer themselves.
I am also blessed by this way of life to have found a new career writing and drawing here for the CarbSmart magazine. In the future, I will be designing low carb online greeting cards, T-shirts, buttons, and may even do comic strips. (I am an amateur artist.) I will also be writing real people success stories. What you don’t know is that when I married and moved here 2 1/2 years ago, I had to give up my small floral and gift shop business because Wayne, my husband, was allergic to my dried flowers. We both agreed that I would be a stay at home wife. This is something I have wanted to do my whole life, but was never able to affordably accomplish. We are both very happy with that decision, but secretly I had a hole in my life. I had always worked, mostly my own business ventures. I love people, helping people, dealing with the public, being useful, needed and…….my house can only get so clean
So, this way of life has made me one complete woman. I have never felt so fulfilled.
Julie is the editor of Low Carb RESOURCE Newsletter, a free once a month online newsletter. You can subscribe here:
She also has her own support groups on yahoo. They can be found at:
Julie has also developed “The Low Carb Link Finder”. Fast becoming THE most sought out tool available for low carb Internet users. A MUST HAVE for any low carber. You can get it here on her
website: http://www.avalon.net/~wjw/index.html or on Ebay by searching “low carb”.