Don from North Carolina is 62 years old and 5′ 7″ inches tall. Don began the Atkins program weighing 330 pounds, and wearing 5X shirts and 54-inch-waist pants. Today Don weighs in at 164 pounds, just 14 pounds from his goal weight. He now proudly wears medium shirts and 33-inch-waist pants!
“I’ve always thought that I inherited my weight problems from my mother,” Don began. “For most of my life, she weighed over 200 pounds and was only 4′ 11″ tall on the tallest day of her life. She spent her entire life trying one diet after another, and never really found one that worked.”
“Because I was very active in my early life, I didn’t have a real weight problem until 1967 when I was 27 years old. That was the year I changed careers from construction to working for IBM. That was the year that I went from 150 to 170 pounds in three months. Until December of 2002 I was never below 170 pounds again.”
“I probably weighed about 150 pounds when I got out of high school. After two years of college, I weighed nearly 170 pounds. I quit school in 1961 and spent six years working in construction. There, my weight would go up to about 150 pounds in the winter and down to 135 pounds or so in the summers.”
“Because of my mother’s experience with diets and the fact that they never seemed to be effective for her long term, I have not spent much of my life trying to lose weight. But there have been a couple of exceptions to that,” Don continued.
“In 1970, when they were still legal and being prescribed by doctors, my doctor put me on amphetamines for a month. As I recall, I lost between 20 and 25 pounds in that month. However, I really didn’t like what they did to my mind. What I really didn’t like was the fact that when I took them I couldn’t stay focused on any task. That affected my work. I would start
to do something and find myself, in a bit, doing something that had nothing to do with what I had started out to do. When the month was over, I went back to the doctor and said, ‘Let’s don’t do that again!’ As I recall, that experiment got me back down to around 170 pounds. I was content at that weight, so I didn’t feel a real need to try to lose more weight at that time.”
“In 1971 I was promoted and moved to a new city and began to travel. Over the next two years I went from 170 pounds to about 200 pounds. Then came another promotion and another move. By 1984 I was at about 230 pounds. That summer I broke my knee in a motorcycle accident, and spent six months in a cast recovering.”
“By the summer of 1985,” Don said, “I was at my heaviest weight up to that point. I weighed in at 270 pounds! In September of that year I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Since that was the ‘stone age’ of sleep studies, the only treatment at the time was an operation to remove part of my soft palate, tonsils, and uvula. At the same time, they put in a trach tube. That is important because it was during the three months that I had the trach tube that I lost 70 pounds. I called that tube my fat drain. I wore it from September 20 of 1985 until Christmas Day of the same year.”
“What I never knew until I read Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution was that what really happened in l985 was I had put myself on a low carbohydrate diet. All I knew back then was that I lost a lot of weight. On Christmas Day, my doctor gave the OK to remove the trach tube, and I was able to go back to work. By midsummer of 1986, I was back up to the 230 pound range. Of course, when I went back to work, I started eating like I used to eat. As a result, I was well on my way to weighing what I used to weigh.”
“At that point,” Don explained, “other things began to happen to my health. Before the end of 1987 I had been through a total of nine sleep studies and was on a CPAP machine that I would sleep with every time I closed my eyes – until August 22 of 2002. Part of my story really has to do with some bad decisions by doctors about the medications I was given.”
“By this time, I believed that what I saw happen for my mother was going to be true for me, too. Every diet I ever tried left me weighing ten to twenty pounds more when I got done then I did when I started! I decided that I would just accept the fact that I was going to be big and learn to live with it. At least that way, I only gained about six pounds or so a year, not the 10 to 20 I was seeing the other way I was going.”
“By January of 2002, I was all the way up to 330 pounds. That is when my doctor called me in to explain to me that I was diabetic, morbidly overweight, and headed down a road that I really didn’t travel on. Since I had watched my mother deal with diabetes and lose her eyesight, some toes, and her mobility, I was positive sure that I didn’t want to go there! But I have to confess, that when he told me I was already there, I was pretty overwhelmed,” Don sighed.
“I was really blessed. My doctor tried to explain to me the relationship between carbohydrates and insulin. I’m sure I was probably looking pretty blank. He asked me if I was familiar with Dr. Atkins thoughts about carbohydrates. I told him, ‘No.’ His response was that he thought Dr. Atkins had a pretty good handle on it. The conversation moved on to other things, and soon the visit ended. We agreed that he would try to get me into a weight loss study somewhere and perhaps get me an appointment with a nutritionist.”
“The next day I was in a Sam’s Club and found a whole table full of Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution books. I decided that perhaps I should invest a bit in myself and find out just what Dr. Atkins thoughts were about carbohydrates and insulin. A couple of days later I began to read that book and before I was through the first chapter I knew that I had found the answer to my weight problem.”
“On February 4th of 2002 I found myself with the following blood work and about 180 extra pounds that I didn’t really need. But I knew for the first time in my life, I could actually do something about the numbers!”
Normal RangeOct 19 2001Jan 31 2002Mar 01 2002Mar 16 2002Apr 18 2002May 17 2002Oct 10 200265-10912113589 75764.5-5.7 5.7 4.5 100-199235 131 172 2440-199231 137 93 4535-15034 36 37 785-4046 26 18 90-99154 68 116 157
|VLDL Cholesterol Cal|
|LDL Cholesterol Calc|
“Today is the 9th of March. 2003, and this is the 389th day of my low carbohydrate way of life. I expect to eat this way for the rest of my life.”
“As I read Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution, I really believed that this was a diet that would work for me. I did get on the Internet and do some research on the medications I was taking. I also worked to get a better understanding of cholesterol and insulin. In spite of all that, when I started the diet on the 4th of February it was with the idea that I would give it the full two weeks of Induction. If it didn’t work, I was only out a couple of weeks of time. If it did, that would be wonderful.”
“By the 8th of February I had lost a whole two pounds. I went to dinner at a Golden Corral restaurant with a group of people I used to work with, and I announced that I had started this diet. I told them that my goal was to lose 180 pounds by Christmas. I know that none of them believed me. In October, I met some of them for the first time since that evening. I had lost so much weight that they did not know who I was – even though they have known me for years!”
Specifically, my doctor did not recommend Atkins, but he is the one who steered me to low carbing. When I returned to the doctor for a follow-up visit at the end of February I had already lost 20 pounds, and he was amazed. By that point, I had already begun to keep charts and graphs, and I had begun to set goals for my whole program. I went into that visit with the graph from my first month and my stated goal of losing 180 pounds by Christmas. I’m sure that he didn’t really believe that I would even get close,” Don grinned.
“As we discussed the diet, I will never forget his response. He told me that he couldn’t tell me what the long term effects of being in ketosis were since there are no longterm studies. But whatever those effects were, they were probably not as bad as being both diabetic and 180 pounds overweight. I will be forever grateful that he did not try to talk me out of the journey I had begun.”
“For me, there have been many of good parts in this lifestyle transformation. Beginning on approximately day two, I found a burst of energy that has stayed with me to this day. And I can honestly say that I’ve not been hungry for even a minute with this way of eating. After all, one of the ‘rules’ of the diet is, if you are hungry, you need to eat something. I believe that, and I’ve practiced it from the start.”
“Because of the energy acquired via low carbohydrate living, I’ve been able to exercise a lot. Because I’ve never been hungry, there has been no reason to cheat.”
“I would like to talk a bit about exercise,” Don said. “Since I’m retired, I decided when I started this way of life – until I reached my goal – my full time job would be to lose weight. That has given me an advantage that many people won’t have. I’ve been able to devote five to six hours a day for the last thirteen months to exercise, cooking, and living this way of life.”
“When I started this way of eating, I could not walk across a room without running out of breath. On the 6th of February I started a walking program. At that time, it took me almost 30 minutes to walk a quarter of a mile! A lot of that time was spent resting halfway through, so I could make it back to the car. As I got stronger, I began to do that two, then three times a day. As I improved, I was able to increase the distance I walked.”
“Currently, since September, I have walked 13.5 miles a day. I do 6.75 in the morning, and then do it again in the evening. In-between I spend an average of 45 minutes on a Bowflex machine doing strength training. In the last 389 days I’ve spent a total of 1,220 hours walking a total of 3,800 miles. I’ve also spent more then 120 hours on the Bowflex since I purchased it in May.”
“I believe that one of the reasons I have almost no loose skin on my body – despite losing more than 165 pounds – is that exercise.”
This way of eating has been very easy. I don’t expect I will ever go back to my old way of eating. People are always asking me what I’m going to do when I reach my goal. My answer is always the same. I’m going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing to get here.”
“I believe that the reason so many people find themselves in a yo-yo diet/weight loss cycle is simple. There really is no diet that anyone can go on that will let them keep the weight off if they go back to eating like they did prior to losing the weight. I understand that, and in addition to liking the food I get to eat, I really like not carrying that extra person around with me all the time.”
“When I started this way of life, I needed at least 9- to 10 hours of sleep every night, in addition to a nap every day! After the second day I’ve not needed a nap. and get by very well on 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep at night.”
“For the first time in thirty years I no longer need blood pressure medications. My blood pressure was 140/75 with medication when I started low carbing, and now it is 125/70 without medication!”
“I’m off the CPAP machine for the first time in fifteen years. I never really believed I would ever be free of that!” Don grinned.
“I can walk, run, ride my motorcycle, and do yard work that I never expected to be able to do again in my life. In the last 12 months I’ve repainted my house inside and out by myself. I could not have done that before because I couldn’t buy a ladder that would have supported my weight. (Not to mention that I would never have had the energy!)”
“As a result of my success, I know a number of people who have converted to this a low carbohydrate style of eating with great success. One of my granddaughters has lost more than fifty pounds, both daughters are having success, a friend from church has lost 45 pounds, and a close friend, who has been low carbing with me, has lost more than 100 pounds!”
“In the beginning a lot of well-meaning people told me how bad this diet was going to be for me, saying that I shouldn’t even try it. Some of them have since become converts and started low carbing themselves. On March 11th I was the motivational speaker for the AWAKE support group for people who suffer from sleep apnea at Rex Hospital here in Raleigh, North Carolina. We had about thirty people in attendance. After a forty-five minute presentation of my story, we had about thirty minutes of questions and answers. It was very well received, and on the following day three of those attendees contacted me to let me know they were going to try the Atkins diet. It was a very gratifying experience.”
I asked Don if he’d comment on the following question:
If you were speaking to a group of new low carbers and seasoned veterans
about low carbing what tips/advice would you give them regarding:
“I don’t cheat. I can truthfully say I’ve not even been tempted to cheat. On the few occasions I’ve had more carbohydrates then I was really ready for at the time, I found a return to the sluggish feelings and the other symptoms that I used to have before starting low carbing. I don’t ever want to go back to that, so I just don’t cheat.”
“I’ve not had a problem with stalls until the last two months. I still have about ten pounds that I would like to get rid of, but I’ve been stuck now since Christmas. However, I know that if I just stay the course and keep doing what I’ve done all along the pounds will fall off eventually. I understand now that I’m close to my goal weight I don’t burn as many calories when I walk, nor do I use as many for BMR. Also, I’m still building a lot of muscle with the strength training, and that affects my rate of weight loss. What I tell people, and what I’ve learned, is that if you stay the course and keep on playing by the rules the weight will come off sooner or later.”
Most Important Points To Remember
“Calories count. Exercise is important if you really want the pounds to come off and the skin to tighten up. I believe supplements are important, too. Take pictures as you go. I’ve taken pictures on the first day of the month every month. In the beginning, I did not take one of my back and figured out by the second month that I needed that view also. The pictures have let me see my progress in a way that I can’t see in the mirror. They have also made it possible for me to share my journey with others. I never thought when I started that I would ever have a web site. However, that has become a very important way for me to share as well as keep me motivated. I know it provides inspiration to others.”
“Because I know what motivates me, I’ve weighed every day. I logged every step and mile of walking, and every minute on the Bowflex. I have charts and graphs that show me where I was and where I am now, and where I was any moment of my weight loss journey. I know that this approach may not work for others but it has helped me be successful,” Don concluded.
Don’s website contains much more information about his journey than we can put in this story. We both believe it can help others to find a solution to their own weight loss journey. It includes many sites that he links to that Don has found to be really useful in his journey. You can find it here: