Carol from Wisconsin is 53. She has been following the Atkins program since June of 2000, and has gone from 186 pounds to 107.5 pounds, from a size 18 to a 5! “I never had problems with weight control until I hit my mid-thirties,” Carol told me. “The past fifteen years, though, it has been a real struggle to keep from gaining at an alarming rate!”
Like many of us, Carol used Dexatrim on and off for many years. “To curb my appetite,” Carol said, “just like the commercials stated. But it just stopped working, so I was double dosing for a week until I got so shaky that I gave it up. “The only result for Carol was continued weight gain.
Carol tried Slim Fast but gained while using it. “The commercials on TV made me think I could use it twice a day, eating a sensible supper,” Carol said. She was only able to stay with the program for a week’s worth of breakfasts. and then was plagued with terrible hunger the rest of the day. Weight gain, again, was the result.
“My several experiences with Weight Watchers always left me ‘ready to start on tomorrow’s food’ by noon of each day,” Carol admitted. “I tried it because it was what all my friends were successful with. It lasted a couple of months each time I tried. I joined three times within a ten-year period.”
Carol’s attempt at Nutri System was “so pathetic, and a huge waste of money,” she said. “I tried it after my sister lost 35 pounds in a couple of months. I kept it up for 3 long, miserable months.”
Carol tried Richard Simmons’ “Deal a Meal,” but always ended up a few foods ahead of the prescribed program each day. “It looked as if I could control the portions,” she told me “A girlfriend and I were convinced if we could get a regular exercise program working, we both could lose as ‘the buddy system.”
Three years ago Carol joined a local health club, doing aqua aerobics, but continued to gain weight. “I was always hungry and craving chocolate no matter how ‘good’ I tried to be,” she said. I am still a member of that club, however, I’m much more active now!”
Each of these weight loss programs seemed ‘right’ for Carol at the time. “I thought they all had built-in fail-safes, but not so! I was always so hungry, fighting between meals to be ‘good.’ I never felt full!” Carol continued. “Going to bed hungry was a real problem, too, because I would wake up in the middle of the night and have to eat something so I could go back to sleep.”
“The planned foods and drinks on all the diets got old so quickly. I always felt as if the diets were punishment for being fat.” And the diets really were torturous for Carol. She was ravenous most of the day. “I simply could not function normally, being hungry all the time,” she told me. “I would never try any of them again, nor recommend them to anyone. Why would anyone ever want to spend their lives thinking ‘what can I eat…I am starving’?”
Carol can’t remember ever losing more than five pounds on any of her previous diet attempts. “I gained weight on Slim-Fast,” she said. “It never helped me for any length of time.” Carol always regained the few pounds she lost, and always gained few extra pounds after she went back to her traditional eating patterns. “I didn’t even tell a soul about many of those attempts to diet. I just didn’t want to publicly admit failure again, as if I were doomed from the very start.”
After so many years of failure, Carol felt resigned to being fat for the rest of her life. “It’s a cruel world out there,” Carol said. “It’s even crueler to folks who aren’t thin. I got tired of hearing. ‘So, I guess you must be off your latest diet? It didn’t work again?’ (That was a family member who said that!) I hated to go shopping, but as I was outgrowing my clothes, I didn’t have a choice. It was so depressing to have to look for size XXX tops to cover ‘my multitude of sins!”
The side effects of all that extra weight meant Carol’s health was going downhill very fast. “I was feeling so old as if I were ready for a nursing home. Just walking through the grocery store became a real job.” Next came migraine headaches that would force Carol to remain in bed for days at a time. “Of course, sleep was my favorite ‘hobby,'” she said. “I just could never get enough sleep. By 3 PM every day, I had a real job just trying to keep my eyes open.” Carol was diagnosed with clinical depression and put on 100mg of Zoloft twice a day. “I was just plain miserable unless I was sleeping.”
The wake-up call came the day Carol’s doctor said she was going to have to begin taking high blood pressure medication. After a fasting glucose test done in early June of 2000, Carol’s doctor sent her to a dietitian for a low-carb diet plan. Her doctor gave her a month to get her blood pressure down before she would put Carol on the medication. I was so upset!” Carol said. “However, after the fasting glucose test, I was diagnosed as very hypoglycemic. That is a pre-diabetes stage. The thought of needles and daily insulin was enough to make me at least try this way of eating.”
Carol started low carbing in late June of 2000. However, she started with the usual attitude problem. She refused to believe it could or would work. “I had only cut my carbs back to about 40 per day,” she told me. “So I didn’t do the “induction week” until the end of July.”
“I am absolutely addicted to carbs, Carol continued. “I know how much I crave them. I also see how much of a withdrawal I go through. If I overdo the carbohydrates one day, I wake up starving the next morning, craving more high carb foods, and I become very lethargic shortly after eating if I give in to the cravings. It usually is a real fight for at least three or four days once I overdo.”
Carol loves the idea of never being hungry, enjoying rich foods that ‘taste so good’ and having chocolate, with whipped cream or a low carb chocolate bar she finds on the low carb web sites like CarbSmart for those ‘got to have days.’ This makes it easier, she feels, to give up other high carbohydrate foods. “The hardest part, is, of course, all the bad things said in the news about this being harmful,” Carol added. “Then, of course, there are the ‘well meaning’ friends and family who feel they have to advise you to get off low carbing before it gets you really sick. But hey, I feel fifteen years younger and have lost over 78 pounds! The only pills I take now are the vitamin and mineral supplements.”
Carol feels that the low carb lifestyle is very similar to AA (Alcoholic’s Anonymous), because it has to be a very ‘selfish program.’ In other words, people work through the AA program to stay sober for themselves, not to stay sober for someone else. “I feel I must work my low carbing program for me,” said Carol. “I’m not doing it for someone else’s benefit!”
“I have gone through many bad times with ‘well meaning’ friends and family lecturing me on the evils of low carbing. Well, so be it! I just try to keep in mind, when they are doing this, that they are thinking that they must tell me they are ‘concerned’ about my health. However, since they do not live in my body, they do not know how much better I feel while maintaining this eating style. One of the things AA stresses to its members is that ‘You are powerless over people, places and things.’ AA clearly states that the only thing you can change is you – your attitudes, your acceptance, your actions. It isn’t always easy to make the daily decision that I am going to have a great day, no matter what folks around me are doing. I try to always be positive. I don’t always succeed! I have enough of my own ‘bad days’ that I try to refuse to share someone else’s bad day. AA, for the most part, is a day-to-day commitment, until the ‘going gets rough’! At that point, it becomes an hour-by-hour or even a minute-by-minute commitment. I think that compares nicely to my program. In fact, my own personal motto is ‘Progress is not perfection!'”
I asked Carol why the low carbohydrate lifestyle has worked for her when others have failed. She replied, “Just not being hungry all the time! I don’t feel punished when I pass up those high carbohydrate foods to get to my proteins and the wonderful, filling fats that taste so good. Without a doubt, this has to be the easiest diet in the world to sick with! The improvements in my daily life make sticking to this my entire life worth it. Who wants to be lethargic, sleepy all the time, and on the sidelines while the world keeps going on? The temptations to cheat are less and less with each passing month. I understand now about the concept of my pancreas putting out all of that extra insulin and causing those terrible crashes. Why would I want to go back to living (if you can call it that) like that again?”
Carol’s blood pressure is back to normal. Her last checkup with the doctor was wonderful. “She (the doctor) kept looking back to my past records and finally said, ‘Boy, I can hardly believe this chart is on the same woman!’ No more migraines, no more Zoloft. I love to get dressed these days, nothing fits tight and I no longer feel like a very old woman,” Carol grinned.
Carol thought it might be helpful to share her experiences with ‘stall’ foods. Stalling is one thing that she has come to expect and plan for. “While cheese is definitely a ‘legal’ food, and I do love cheese, I found it to be a real stall food for me. I don’t gain on it, but it certainly doesn’t help me to lose. I try to limit eating cheese to once or twice a week. I have also found that sugar-free Jell-O, or any product made with aspartame, stalls me, so I can only enjoy diet pop and Crystal Light on rare occasions. After giving up my much-loved coffee, I found that even decaffeinated coffee (and teas) stall me. The low-carb chocolate bars, or the high protein bars, too, have caused some major stalling. I love to the premixed bottles of the Carb Solutions High Protein Drinks, but, they also seem to stall me. I don’t gain using these things, but I sure don’t lose either.”
“Being hypoglycemic,” Carol feels, “may have something to do with these stalls – I don’t know. However, once I do hit my goal, I know they all can be added back to my daily diet, as I have never gained on any of these things – I just didn’t lose on them.”
Carol finds that just sticking to the basic proteins (no processed meats) and legal vegetables works the best to keep that scale moving. “At night, when I feel that hunger pain,” she said, “I have found that fried pork rinds with a touch of butter really helps. It takes away the dry, bland taste. Plus, when I put butter on them, it doesn’t take as many to ‘hit the spot.’ I will even put some butter on a hard-boiled egg at night sometimes as a snack before bedtime if my stomach just doesn’t want to settle down.”
Carol feels each one of us needs to experiment to see what our personal stall foods are. “Keep in mind, giving up those stall foods isn’t necessarily forever,” she added “Be sure not to short yourself on water or your vitamins, either. And if you can exercise – all the better! I do a light aqua aerobic class four to six hours a week. My hips get sore very easily, the water helps support them. You can’t imagine the workout you can get with water-providing resistance. Yet, it doesn’t do me in nearly badly as a walk on land does!”
“While I have had my weak moments during this time, I am determined to get to my goal! I had an entire month of no weight loss and a couple of months when all I lost was three pounds for the entire month. (Cheating doesn’t pay!) I had to really get serious to find my stall foods (legal low carbohydrate foods that stall my weight loss). Recently, I saw a website talking about how really important water drinking is — so now I am really making a conscientious effort to drink an adequate amount of water.”Carol has a great support system. Her doctor is more than thrilled to see her improved medical condition but not nearly as thrilled as Carol herself is. “What a thrill to pitch all those tent-sized clothes!” she said. “My husband told me, “Boy, you sure don’t look like a grandmother of three!'”
Carol can be on her feet for hours at a time now without experiencing pain in her hips or feet. “What a thrill to shop once again in the junior petite departments and have it all fit,” Carol told me. “When my daughter-in-law saw me, five months into this program she said, ‘You don’t even look like the same person!’ That was after the first forty-six-pound loss! The very next day she started her own low-carb program and is still losing. When I see folks I haven’t seen in some time, it’s as if they can’t believe it is really me.”
Carol feels low carb dieting is America’s best-kept secret. “I, for one, would love to get up on the rooftop and yell out to the world, ‘Hey folks, we are not in depression anymore; you don’t need all those starches! All that sugar is poison to your body! There’s no reason to even manufacture all that nasty stuff!”
Carol wishes that somehow people could understand how they are abusing their bodies and actually turning themselves into diabetics with high-carb eating. “Forget the cancers, forget the low-fat diets that don’t do a thing for high cholesterol, only leave you wanting more to eat. My last cholesterol test came back at 136, not that I had dangerously high cholesterol prior to low carbing, about 160, but I did improve it. Yes, yes, yes! Low carbing lowered my blood pressure from 180/90 to 110/78 inside of a month!”
More Low-Carb Success Stories.