Donna from Wisconsin has been following the Protein Power plan since November of 1999. When Donna began following Protein Power, she weighed 187 pounds. She is currently two pounds under her goal weight of 145, and is now sporting a size 6!!
“I was never a skinny child,” Donna told me. “At age nine, I gained a lot of weight after a tonsillectomy limited my eating to ice cream and popsicles. I have never taken diet medicines, either prescription or over the counter, to try and lose weight, but other than that, I’ve tried it all.”
Donna remembers trying weight loss methods such as the Grapefruit Diet, Hollywood Diet, Richard Simmons, Weight Watchers, various low fat diets, the Pasta Diet, the Mayo Clinic Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, Slim Fast, her own version of Jenny Craig using Healthy Choice meals, and seeing a private nutritionist at her doctor’s office. Donna has also tried various forms of exercise in the past to lose weight as well: aerobics classes, walking, Elaine Powers, Vic Tanny, YMCA water aerobics, step classes, and various video tapes such as “Buns of Steel,” Kathy Smith, Joanie Greggins…….. “Oh my, I could go on for pages!!” she exclaimed. “I’d really have to do some memory searching to remember the details about each of these diet attempts; it’s really just been a lifelong struggle from one diet attempt to the other.”
“The two times I can really remember being successful, if only in the short term, were when I was regularly attending Weight Watchers meetings. My overweight mom had been in and out of Weight Watchers throughout my childhood. When I got to where I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d join in. Each time I did it for about 6 months. Each time I either reached goal or got very close to it. But then I’d fall back to my old eating habits and gain back all the weight plus ten more pounds. The Weight Watchers plan just isn’t something I can do for life. I can’t have one or two snacks. It’s much easier for me to eliminate problem foods permanently than it is to eat small amounts of them in moderation.”
Donna had heard Dr. Atkins name, but never really investigated low carbing until July of 1999. What made her try it? “Desperation,” she said, “and the fact that I was feeding my dogs a biologically appropriate diet and was stuffing my face with things my body was never intended to eat! My dogs were getting healthier and I was getting sicker! When I began, I was nearing 190 on the scales. That was the heaviest I’d been (pregnancies included) in my entire life. I was wearing a tightening size 16. My ‘before’ picture, was such a terrible shock to me. Until I saw that picture, I had been in some sort of denial. I knew that my weight was going up, but I had no idea that I looked that heavy! Ah yes, reality hurts sometimes.”
“I was depressed, moody, my blood pressure was going up, diabetes was lurking around the corner, and I was, overall, a very unhappy, unhealthy person. That week I bought a copy of Protein Power by Drs. Eades and it sat on my table for a couple of weeks. By early November, I’d read the book, was scared by what I was reading, and was ready to try yet another ‘diet’. Starting this low carb way of life with Protein Power was the only way I could do it. Maybe it’s genetic, but at the time I started, the thought of never eating a slice of bread or a banana again were too much for me to handle. But by Thanksgiving, the cravings were gone and I was on my way to a new way of life. For me now, nearly two years later, the idea of sitting down to a big chunk of bread or a banana has absolutely no appeal whatsoever. I’d rather eat anything low carb than most anything high in carbs.”
“The good parts of low carbing are everywhere: physical and emotional health!” Donna said. “The bad part would perhaps be the limited choices available in commercially prepared low carb food, or at restaurants.”
“I’ve learned what works for my body and what doesn’t,” Donna added. “I’m kind of an ‘all or nothing’ person. I know for a fact that if I were to slip and have a scoop of ice cream, or a pastry, or a potato that I would have a very difficult time recovering from that slip. That one item would lead to another and another and before you know it, days or weeks would have gone by. I know I don’t have the will power to have ‘just one’ of those things. I am truly a carbohydrate addict!”
“My dad was an alcoholic, and once sober he could never have had ‘just one’; he knew that, and so did we. I’m in the same boat, only with carbs. I really admire those low carbers who are able to regain control of their lives so quickly after a slip back to high carb foods. That takes true strength and determination. It’s much easier to say ‘never’ than it would be to say ‘just one, then not again for a long time’ “
“Personally, I have gotten to the point where I don’t even want or desire the high carb foods that used to call out my name. I can go into Culver’s with the family, order my taco salad and watch as they eat their frozen custard for dessert. Does it bother me? Sure, a little; I remember how good it tastes. Is it worth it to have just a taste? Not on your life!!! As soon as I get home I make myself some peanut butter pudding and any desire for sweet/cool/smooth/creamy is satisfied.”
“I am not perfect when it comes to eating low carb, I do still overindulge sometimes, but now only on low carb foods. I may have too much peanut butter pudding, an entire batch of baked low carb custard, all six protein breads, or all four dishes of sugar free Cottee’s Gelatin (with whipped cream). These are the things I need to get under control, but I know I eat much healthier now that I ever did before I started low carbing. Back then I’d have my good days and my bad days when it came to eating, as I do now, but back then my bad days consisted of soda pop, ice cream, cake, cookies and chips. Now my bad days consist of not getting in all 128 oz of water, too much cauliflower casserole, too many nuts and seeds, or a steak that was a little bigger than it should have been. There’s just no comparison as far as the nutritional content of the food consumed. Looking back, I’m actually surprised I didn’t have more health problems than I did!”
Low carbing has worked for Donna where everything else has failed. “First and foremost,” Donna began, “I’ve lost weight and kept it off. I can eat real food, feel satisfied, and still feel good physically! I can make the same foods for my family and just add a potato or rice for them to go along with whatever I’m having. It is definitely hard work, but anything worth doing is hard work.
“I’ve done so much research and reading since starting this way of life! Armed with the new knowledge that I’ve gained, I feel I can definitely continue this lifestyle. It’s no longer a diet for me, its just the way I eat. My weight is down, my blood pressure is normal (was normal/high), my bad cholesterol is down, my good cholesterol is up, and my skin is even healthier! I definitely don’t have that dried out, scaly skin that I had before. And yes, I’ve even noticed the disappearance of some of the wrinkles I had starting getting before I began this way of life. My hair is healthier, my acid reflux is gone, my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is gone, my fingernails are healthier, my PMS is greatly improved, my depression has subsided, my overall mood is improved, and I’m much less prone to emotional outbursts.”
“To me, my health and fitness are so much more important than what the scale says. But body size goes hand in hand with heath and fitness. When I started low carbing, I had a goal in mind. That goal was weight and size oriented, based on my past weight loss experiences. I am now two pounds just under my goal weight, but I am two sizes smaller than my original goal size. Low carbing has not only helped me to lose fat, but it has helped me to restructure my body composition. In doing that my health (and quality of life) have improved tremendously. Buying smaller sized clothes is just a side benefit!!
“Because my husband was skeptical” (and quite honestly, so was I), I promised him when I stared low carbing that I’d have a complete physical again after six months,” Donna continued, “and if anything worsened, I promised I’d quit low carbing immediately. After that first six months, when everything improved, he was a believer. My whole family is now very supportive of me in this lifestyle change. They see the positive changes it’s had in my life, and the continuing good results of my medical tests. They can’t argue with that! My doctor is on the fence. He has no problem with me giving up sweets and junk food, but he sort of looks the other way when it comes to other aspects of low carbing.”
The support and encouragement that Donna has gotten via the Internet are also very important to her. “While I am willing to take much of the credit – after all, I’m the person responsible for what goes into my mouth – I could never have gotten through this lifestyle change without the support of the AtkinsDiet_LoCarb email list. The recipes, information, encouragement and love from the group have been tremendously helpful in getting me through this change in my life.”
The two most common reactions Donna gets from people are: 1) that ‘they’ could never do this, and 2) people wondering when she is going to be off this diet. “Fortunately, I don’t run into a lot of people who try to preach to me about how bad this way of life is for me. Even if they think it’s unhealthy, they can’t argue with what it’s done for me, so they usually don’t even try!”
In closing, Donna added her thoughts on artificial sweeteners. “I’ve reached goal, and I’ve eaten Splenda all along the way. Has it hurt my weight loss? Yes, at times, but not directly. I can get carried away eating Splenda sweetened products, they just taste sooooooo good! Eating sweetened foods causes me to want more sweetened foods, artificially sweetened or otherwise. However, thanks to Splenda, when I have a craving for sweets I have a low carb alternative and not a morsel of non-low carb food has passed my lips in nearly two years.”
Donna is a subscriber to AtkinsDiet_LoCarb, a free email support list on Yahoo. You can access AtkinsDiet_LoCarb’s home page at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AtkinsDiet_LoCarb
CarbSmart’s editor, Di Bauer, is the list owner of AtkinsDiet_LoCarb. Rani Merens, who is the author of The Low Carb Cook’s Corner and Julie Westly author of Success Stories also subscribe to AtkinsDiet_LoCarb, as does Diana Lee, author of Baking Low Carb and Bread and Breakfast: Baking Low Carb II.