Our First Low-Carb Success Story: Andrew’s Original Low-Carb Journal

Dr. Atkins and Andrew DiMino from CarbSmart.com

On September 29, 1998, I started my Low-Carb journey. 

I’ve spent most of my life overweight, wondering if I could ever lose the excess pounds. I started a new diet every week – with no lasting results. All I had ever heard about were those low-fat, high carbohydrate diets that the medical profession was so fond of. But, they never worked for me.

And then in 1998, a co-worker lost 25 pounds in a couple of months. I was amazed. He looked great, and he was excited about his recent weight loss. He told me about this great book by Dr. Atkins and his new way of life, a way to eat good foods without skipping meals or having to worry about calories, grams of fat, or major exercise programs. He told me he ate meals that were low in carbohydrates, high in protein, and had normal amounts of fat. He explained how he did it and why it works. Boy, was I amazed. This went against everything I was ever taught. Yet the simple fact was my friend lost weight following this regimen.

Andrew’s Story – I am just like you.

So I bought Dr. Atkins’ book. I learned about insulin, ketosis, metabolic resistance, induction, and maintenance. I realized that I craved carbohydrates. I went to my kitchen cabinets and found they were full of cereal, pasta, bread mixes, Pop-Tarts, crackers, rice, pancake mix, potatoes, tortilla chips, and caffeinated coffees. Right then and there I resolved to change my eating habits. So I set a date and started eating differently.

By December 1999 I lost 50 pounds living the low carb life and felt great. I had more energy, I was eating great foods and didn’t crave pasta or other nasty carbohydrates. Now that I knew how to eat and maintain my lifestyle, I wanted to share my experiences with the low carb lifestyle with everyone who wanted to know more. Over the years I’ve helped thousands of people lose weight, keep the weight off, and lessen the effects of diabetes and avoid obesity.

Return to About CarbSmart. Date Week # Current Weight Weight Lost Percent Lost
09/29/98 0.0 weeks 292.0 0.0 lbs. 0.00%
Today is the day that I start the Atkins Low Carbohydrate Program (low carbs, high protein, normal fats). I have read most of the book and am ready to start the Induction phase.

Unhappy that I weigh the most I have every been, I begin with a good breakfast – a two egg omelet with shredded cheese, mushrooms, and red peppers. For lunch I have a salad, and for dinner a steak with stir-fried vegetables. I wanted to check my cholesterol before I started but I kept putting it off. I will check some time in the future. Luckily I have a photo to judge myself by.

  10/01/98 1.0 week 284.0 8.0 lbs. 2.73%
OK, in the first week I have lost 8 pounds. Now I know some of it is water loss and a change from drinking carbonated beverages (I love Coca Cola) and regular coffee. I never knew I was addicted to carbohydrates.  I mean, I am Italian and I love pasta, good breads, and potatoes. 

But after I started to read Dr. Atkins’ book, I realized that after I had a big dish of pasta or any type of big meal loaded with starch or carbohydrates, I would crave more within 15 minutes.  I mean, here I just ate a big meal and I wanted more.  I had no idea what was going on. I found it amazing that after these first seven days I no longer craved carbohydrates.  

There was no physical desire to eat more than I was eating.  It is true that this low carbohydrate lifestyle forces your body to adjust itself to end the cravings. I also couldn’t believe I was eating eggs, meat, and cheese – every day! Since the philosophy is that the problem is with excess carbohydrates and not fat, the lower level of carbohydrates in the body forces it to use the stored fat for energy.

Starting to get my grove.  10/08/98 2.0 weeks 282.0 10.0 lbs. 3.42%
OK, it is now been two weeks since I started the Atkins program and I have lost a total of 10 pounds.  Of course my weight loss is slowing down because my body is now in ketosis and I am into a natural phase of weight loss. I feel that my body has gone through all of the stored carbohydrates and is now working on the stored fat. I have been sticking to the following routine for my meals:


  • A 2 egg omelet with shredded cheese, mushrooms, red peppers, and fresh ground

  • 3 strips of bacon or 4 sausage patties.
  • A half pot of decaffeinated coffee.
  • Vitamin supplements including carnitine, garlic, a multivitamin, vitamin C.,
    lysine, chromium, calcium, and ginseng.


  • A mixed salad with lettuce, shredded cheese, mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes,
    crumbled egg, and oil and vinegar. If we go out for lunch, I have a Caesar salad with
    grilled chicken without the croutons.

  • An occasional Iced Tea.


  • I have an 8 oz. portion of steak, pork, Italian sausage, fish, turkey, or chicken.
  • Stir-fried vegetables which usually includes extra virgin olive oil, red peppers,
    green peppers, other assorted peppers, fresh mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash.   I add fresh ground pepper and assorted herbs as well as low sodium soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Sometimes for an added reward, I will add one teaspoon of sugar-free honey.

  • Once again I have my vitamin supplements including carnitine, garlic, a multivitamin, vitamin C, chromium, calcium, and ginseng.
  • After dinner, a decaffeinated breve latte with half and half.

I also try to have four to eight glasses of water during the day. So far so good.  I am feeling good about the weight loss so far. I have set my goal at a total of 112 pounds by the end of 1999.  That will give me 15 months to get to my goal. IfI do not make it but I have lost a significant amount of weight, I will not be disappointed. I have no problem eating this new way and I am sure I will feel healthier.

4 Week Mark  10/22/98 4.0 weeks 279.0 13.0 lbs. 4.45%
After four weeks I am beginning to notice the physical changes.  I can see that my torso doesn’t look as bloated as it used to and my face is starting to look thinner.  Still nobody at work notices, but I notice.  I don’t let that discourage me because the weight is coming off, I am feeling good and I’m getting towards by goal weight.

There are some other changes I’m starting to notice.  I feel like I am sleeping better.  I no longer feel bloated.  I have much more energy. I no longer have acid indigestion and I definitely have less gas.  My clothes have started to fit better and I’m using a lower notch on my belt. These signs are definitely encouraging.

My first photo and my first plateau.

10/31/98 5.25 weeks 276.5 15.5 lbs. 5.31%
Now is a true test.  It is Halloween weekend and I have decided to go to Florida to visit my friends, Kim, Chad, and Steve.  This will be the first time that I am not cooking for myself since I have started the Atkins program. 

But I am not worried.  I have said to myself that I will continue this way of eating even on vacations.  And you know what?  I did. Kim, Chad, and Steve did notice that I looked a little thinner.  I explained to them about the Atkins program which they all had heard about and couldn’t believe it was working for me.  They asked me how was I able to eat while on vacation? 

I told them that it is easy.  All I need to do is have a breakfast with eggs and meat and needed to lay off the toast and potatoes. Lunches are easy because I can have salads or some form of meat (usually chicken) and dinner could be a steak with vegetables as long as I remember to lay off the bread and potatoes (which I normally do). 

Of course no alcohol, but that’s okay, I’ll have iced tea or water. I was able to stick to my formula in every restaurant. I had a great time in Florida, I stuck to my diet, and I feel great.It is also during this time that I had my first plateau.  I stayed at around 276 for 2 1/2 weeks.  I did not let myself get discouraged because I knew a plateau was coming. I let my body adjusts to the new weight loss and once it did I was able to continue losing the weight.

Thanksgiving Morning  11/23/98 8.5 weeks 269.5 22.5 lbs. 7.71%
Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day. So far I have lost 22 1/2 pounds and now have to face the traditional day of stuffing your face. I leave for Colorado to visit my friends, Mike and Debbie and their two kids, for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Although they had no idea that I was even heavier two months previous, I told them of my success so far and explained the program to them. They were happy to see that I was finally able to control my weight through a healthy program and supported me 100%. 

In fact, I let them know that there was no problem with eating Thanksgiving dinner because I love turkey and it is one of my normal protein sources.  They were serving a couple of different styles of potatoes and stuffing and I told them I would try them but not overdo it.

Debbie’s Thanksgiving meal was fantastic. The turkey was juicy and tasted great and I decided to have a couple of spoonfuls of potatoes and stuffing. It tasted great but it did not make me crave more.  I ate just enough and totally enjoyed the meal. For the next couple of days afterwards I stuck to my plan.  Even when we went to a Mexican restaurant I ordered a fajita without the tortilla shells. It was great.

Another plateau.  12/14/98 11.5 weeks 269.5 22.5. lbs. 7.71%
Let’s talk about plateaus again.  It has been three weeks since Thanksgiving and I have not lost a pound.  I knew my body was going to have many plateaus but I wasn’t prepared for them to last three weeks. 

After about two weeks I started to worry.  I should have been coming off my plateau by wasn’t.   But I stuck to my plan.  I kept everything the same. And finally it paid off.  I started to lose weight again.  I was really happy.  The key is to not worry about the plateaus, maintain your usual way of eating, don’t weigh yourself more than you usually do and you will eventually break the plateau.

 Christmas Vacation 12/24/98 13.0 weeks 265.0 27.0 lbs. 9.25%
Christmas vacation.  This was to be a crazy time for me because I am going to spend five days in Rochester and seven days in Florida.  For these two weeks, I would not be cooking for myself.  Sure I was a little bit scared, but I have control of my will power and I have no reason to not stick to the plan. 

Now I have lost 27 pounds since my friends and relatives in Rochester have seen me.  In fact, I have not told anyone that I have lost any weight.  I wanted to see if people noticed.  And they did.  Now I’m sure it threw them off a little bit because people would look at me a little funny and not say anything immediately.  But then people would ask if I’ve lost weight. I told everyone that I lost 27 pounds in 13 weeks. 

Everyone is amazed and supportive. I tell them that I’m on a low carbohydrate, high protein routine which I will maintain for at least a year.  Some people have heard of Dr. Atkins but not everybody.  Some of the people that I told that I have 2 eggs every morning for breakfast were worried about my cholesterol level.  But in general, everyone was supportive. 

The true test for these two weeks will come when I get back and actually weight myself.  I’m guessing that I’m going to at least maintain my weight if not lose a couple of pounds. I had no trouble staying on the plan during the holiday meals.  I avoided all starches, potatoes, bread, etc. which I normally don’t eat anyway.  I ate well and had great meals.

Even while I was visiting Kim, Chad, and Steve in Florida, I was able to stick to the plan. Steve doesn’t usually eat breakfast so I had to improvise. I would eat some celery and take my vitamins to hold me over until lunch. Then I would have a great salad for lunch and some type of protein for dinner. I ate very well and lost a total of 5 pounds!! You can’t beat that.

1999, A Brand New Year.

01/04/99 14.5 weeks 260.0 32.0 lbs. 10.96%
It’s a brand-new year and a brand-new plateau.  It seems like every 10 or 12 pounds, my body says to me “hey, slow down, what are you doing to me?” So this time I’m ready. I won’t get discouraged, I will stick to my plan, and I will break through the plateau.  Hopefully, this one will not last three weeks.

Well, since it is a new year, I feel that I need to go check my cholesterol.  I made an appointment with my doctor and had my blood drawn.  I am really worried.  In the mailing lists on the Internet, a lot of people say that there is a chance that your cholesterol goes up when you are on this program. 

Some people say that your cholesterol only goes up temporarily but others (including Dr. Atkins) say that the low carbohydrate lifestyle actually lowers your cholesterol count.  Okay, here are the numbers:

  • Cholesterol = 164 (Normal range -)
  • LDL = 101 (Normal range -)
  • HDL = 51 (Normal range -)
  • Triglycerides = 60 (Normal range -)
  • HDL Ratio = 3.2 (Normal range -)

Everything is in the normal range!!! That means that I’m losing weight without raising my cholesterol.  Don’t let anybody tell you that eating a low carbohydrate diet is going to raise your cholesterol.  These numbers don’t lie.

  01/25/99 17.5 weeks 257.5 34.5 lbs. 11.82%
I have broken the plateau. I have decided to add vitamin E, selenium, and omega-3 to my list of twice-daily supplements.
Another Stall But Not Discouraged.  02/18/99 21.0 weeks 252.5 39.5 lbs. 13.53%
I have been a bit stalled but am not getting discouraged. I have added potassium and Coenzyme Q10. I ran out of carnitine and feel that it may have contributed to my stall. I currently take the following supplements twice per day:

  • 1 Centrum  multivitamin
  • 1000 mg. Vitamin C.
  • 400 mg. Vitamin E
  • 600 mg. Garlic
  • 500 mg. Carnitine
  • 1000 mg. Lysine
  • 400 mg. Chromium Picolinate
  • 1000 mg. Calcium
  • 500 mg. Siberian Ginseng Root
  • 200 mg. Selenium
  • 1000 mg. Omega-3
  • 99 mg. Potassium
  • 10 mg. Coenzyme Q10

I am getting ready to add exercise to my program. I will start with a combination of walking, low impact aerobics, stair climbing, and jump rope. In the spring I will be buying a mountain bike to explore the area.

TEASER: Wait until you see me official 40 lb. lost photo! Coming as soon as I reach it.

3/28/99 26.5 weeks 252.0 40.0 lbs. 13.70%
Here’s the reality of this WOL. To the left is a forty pound bag of cat litter. That is how much weight I have lost. Next time you are in Sam’s Club, go to the pet section and lift one of these. That is how much I have lost in 1/2 year.

If I can do it, so can you. OK, I finally did it. I hit a major plateau but I broke through it. My weight was fluctuating between 253 and 256 for 5 weeks.

Well I started exercising and that helped break the plateau. I am either doing aerobics or walking in the morning, I walk during the day at work, and at night I do a little more aerobics. Not too strenuous, maybe some stretching or running in place. Now that I am doing it every day, it is easier to do.

4/29/99 30.5 weeks 249.0 43.0 lbs. 14.73%
I am sorry it has taken so long to update the site but I was waiting for a new photo. I have broken the 250 mark. I am exercising regularly and continue to feel better. The weight loss has slowed down but it is still coming off. Also, I still have not had any cravings for carbohydrates. It has been easy to maintain this way of life.
Another Plateau 6/26/99 39.5 weeks 249.0 43.0 lbs. 14.73%
I am in another plateau. I have been 249 for 10 weeks now. Of course, I am not discouraged. I am eating well, I feel great, and I am benefiting every day from the low carb lifestyle. One thing I need to do is to force myself to take more walks. With the awful humidity of South Dakota, I will make sure to carry extra water with me during my walks. I will let everyone know of my progress.
  11/05/99 58 weeks 249.0 43.0 lbs. 14.73%
OK, It has been over 4 months since my last entry. I have to apologize for the delay. Since my last entry, I moved CarbSmart to Southern California. We are currently in Lake Forest but will soon be settling in Aliso Viejo (both near Irvine in Orange County).

As you can tell from the numbers, I have not lost any weight in four months – but most importantly – I HAVE MAINTAINED MY WEIGHT ON THE LOW CARB LIFESTYLE. I am not disappointed in my progress. I have been so busy with CarbSmart that I have not been able to totally focus on weight loss, I have been focusing on maintenance.

Now that CarbSmart is moved and everything here is in place, I am going to go back to Induction Phase again. I am going to go back to 20 grams of carbs a day (lately I have been doing 25-35 grams). I am going to set little goals for myself as I work towards the big goal of reaching 180 pounds.

I will need your support and encouragement.

Thanks everyone – together we’ll do it!

I Met Dr. Atkins!

7/15/00 95 weeks 242.0 50.0 lbs. 17.15%
OK, It has been over 8 months since my last entry. I have lost another 7 pounds for a total of 50!! I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THIS ON THE LOW CARB LIFESTYLE. I am trying to stay at 20 grams of carbs a day but I usually do 25-35 grams. I am going to set another little goal of 5 more pounds by the end of summer as I work towards the big goal of reaching 180 pounds.I will still need your support and encouragement. Please feel free to email me at [email protected] and I will keep you informed of my progress. I am in it with you, I am a low carber for life – and I’ll help you as you help me.

Thanks everyone – together we’ll do it!

Please send your comments or success story to [email protected].

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Tell us your Low-Carb success story.

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