Howard from New Mexico is 50 years old and 6 feet tall. Howard began low carbing weighing 330 pounds and now weighs 241 pounds. He used to wear a size 50 waist, but now wears a 42! His goals are to continue losing weight until he reaches 200 pounds and wears a size 36 waist.
Howard does low-carb, but does not follow a particular plan. “I have picked and chosen from Atkins, Eades, Schwarzbein, and Audette,” he told me. “My wife and I started with Atkins in December of 1999.”
“I was borderline diabetic, but never officially diagnosed. (Fortunately, I can still buy health insurance!) I do have a severe case of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and OSA has been shown to worsen insulin resistance, which can lead to weight gain, which can worsen OSA.” It’s a vicious circle!
“There were a few months back when I was a teenager and about three years when I was in the Navy, when I was NOT morbidly obese. But I have never been thin,” Howard continued.
“While I was in the Navy, I had moderately good success with Weight Watchers. But after a while, I ‘fell off the wagon.’ Not sure why, but Weight Watchers seemed like more or less a constant hassle, and it was difficult to follow when I was single and eating Navy chow. ”
“Many years later, I tried Weight Watchers again, and lost a considerable amount weight, but I rebounded almost immediately. That was primarily due to the fact that my first wife was non-supportive.”
“Since then, I’ve tried a number of different diets. The last big push to lose weight was on a low-fat Ornish & McDougal style diet. My current wife (Suzy) and I were on low fat for about four months before we started gaining weight on it. We both lost over 20 pounds initially, but we were always hungry. I was eating low-fat snacks almost constantly all day because I could never get to a point that I wasn’t hungry. Suzy actually cracked first. I probably could have toughed it out for another month before I gave up. She came to me one day, actually crying, and said that if she ever saw another darn baked potato with Picante sauce, she would throw up.”
“After that, we basically gave up on very low fat, but I did take Xenical for a while. It didn’t seem to have any effect at all on me. I wasn’t eating a lot of fat even then. I went from 250 to 330 over a period of about six months. At that point, I started lifting weights and doing aerobics three times a week. (I couldn’t get Suzy to do that.) I was watching the fat grams, but not really trying to diet. I worked out that way for about 12 months and lost 4 pounds.”
“However, one thing I did get from lifting weights was that the mysterious pains in my hands got better. My doctor had advised me against weight training because it would make my hand pain worse! I told him it helped, and he just repeated himself. I fired him after that.”
Howard first read about low carbing in the 1960s in Taller’s book. “But when Taller was convicted of mail fraud, I was convinced that there was nothing to it, and did not try it.”
I asked Howard if he feels he is addicted to carbs. “I don’t know if I was addicted in the classical sense,” he said, “but I’m certainly not now. I walk past a display of free donuts and sweet rolls at work every Friday, and it doesn’t even bother me anymore.”
“Suzy and I went to a sleep disorders group meeting in November of 1999, featuring bariatric surgeon, Dr. Barzume, who described his favorite method of gut mutilation. After the presentation, I asked ‘How much does the surgery cost?’ The answer, ‘About $35,000.’ We were so desperate that I was actually thinking of how I would be able to raise $70,000 so that Suzy and I could both get our guts mutilated. Then Suzy asked, ‘What changes in diet, if any, do you post-op patients have to make?’ Answer: ‘I put all my patients on a low carb diet.’ Before even thinking about it, I blurted out, ‘So the diet fads have gone full circle TWICE since 1960!!’ He gave me a dirty look and did not respond. But the following week, we bought a copy of Atkins’ book and read it.”
“Suzy decided that she was going to try it. I said, ‘OK, I will too.’ I was going to support her in her decision. Even though I was absolutely convinced that it was going to be yet another ‘darn-diet’ that would be all done in six months, and we would end up even fatter. I got and read every low-carb book I could find, and we started low carbing. What followed was utter astonishment. I should probably write to Dr. Barzume, a letter of apology.”
“Suzy went cold turkey and felt awful for nearly a week. I started more gradually, cutting carbs in half the first day, and reducing them a little every day for about a week. I never experienced that initial ‘flu,’ although it could be simply because my blood sugar was not yet as far out of control as Suzy’s was then.”
“I did have one problem with the diet initially, though. I got the ‘Rash From Hell.’ It lasted about eight weeks, and the dermatologist was of zero help. He didn’t even seem interested in helping me find the cause. I managed to get over it by carefully logging everything I ate, and how the rash either improved or got worse. After a while, I noticed that things that made it worse matched up with the things the folks in the ASDLC group were associating with Candida, and I went on an anti-yeast version of low carb. The rash got worse for a few days, then slowly went away. I went through several bottles of anti-itch cream during that time. (By the way, I noticed that BenGay, or the store-brand generic equivalent, works even better and longer than most anti-itch creams, although the first few minutes are a bit uncomfortable.)”
“Last year, I went on a 12-day cruise in the North Atlantic. It was a nonstop feast of really good food. Suzy and I both lost weight on that cruise, just by avoiding the bread, potatoes, desserts, and everything on the “heart-healthy” section of the menu.”
“I keep reading about how others have all these horrible problems with staying on this program, and how they have to develop coping strategies to deal with all the temptations. I am a bit mystified by all of that. I just don’t have that kind of problem. I attribute that in part to two things:
- I have made up my mind about what I’m (not) going to eat, and I don’t have to agonize over the same decisions every day. The decision is made, I don’t eat junk. Period. It helps that I never get really hungry anymore.
- I don’t watch TV in real-time. I use a VCR with auto commercial skip to watch the one hour per week (38 minutes without commercials) that I do watch. I don’t listen to commercial radio (except for a few minutes of news in the mornings) So the two main channels of nonstop bombardment of disinformation can’t get to me.”
“A ‘diet’ is something you do to lose weight that makes you hungry all the damned time, and in the end, results in your gaining all that weight back with interest. I will never go on another ‘darn-diet’ now that I know it isn’t necessary. I will never eat another slice of bread or another potato. Period. I had a thick, juicy T-bone for dinner this evening, smothered in butter. Since I wasn’t hungry enough to finish it (that was nearly three hours ago and I’m still comfortably full), I’m going to have steak and eggs for breakfast in the morning. I never got to eat that way when I was on a ‘darn-diet’!!”
As far as benefits from this way of life, Howard had a list:
- Hypertension- Cured, completely off meds.
- Hypoglycemia – Cured, no meds (bg never goes below 75 or above 95 any more.)
- High Cholesterol- Normalized; no meds.
- Triglycerides in the TEENS!
- Mysterious pain in my hands-gone; off meds.
- Chronic Indigestion- I ran across a half-empty bottle of Rolaids a few months ago, and tossed them in the trash. I had forgotten I even had them. I used to buy the extra-large bottle at Sam’s once a month, and always made sure I had some with me at all times.
- I used to have 6 to 10 active pimples on my face at all times, and another 4 or 5 on my scalp, another 4 or 5 on my neck. My acne hasn’t ever gone away completely, but I have had exactly three pimples on my face in the last two years, and none in the last three months.
- Sleep Apnea- My Auto Adjust CPAP has ramped down to an average of 5-6 cm, from 17.5 two years ago. 4 cm is the lower limit. I hope that in another year or so, I can put the thing in storage.
- Even my gout seems to be better, although I have not been able to completely get off Allopurinol (yet).
- Night vision- Improved.
- Sensitive Teeth – Don’t hurt anymore, and I even quit using Sensodyne about a year ago. Last checkup, zero cavities. Two years ago, I had three cavities, two of which resulted in root canals. I’ve had tooth problems all my life until I started low carb.
“On the downside,” Howard added, “well, there was the ‘Rash from Hell,’ but that’s gone. And my hair is still going gray, but I don’t think that’s from low carbing. I still have dandruff occasionally. I still get zits on my neck, butt, and sides. And I’m still fat, but there is hope that I won’t be fat anymore in another year or so.”
Howard has a great support system. “My wife, who is also my CPA. Without her, I probably would have never tried low carb. My current physician is actually supportive of low carb, even though she doesn’t seem to really believe in it. I need to go back for another checkup, but I want to arrange to have at least four eggs and a slab of beef every day for a couple of weeks first, in order to make sure my cholesterol numbers are really good,” Howard grinned.
“By now, everyone has noticed that I am losing weight. I still get a few comments about how low carbing is going to destroy my kidneys, and I have to admit that I’m a bit short with those fools.”
I wanted to add that in corresponding with Howard, I had to smile each time I got an email from him because he signed it this way:
“…there is no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood. None. And we’ve know that all along.” Dr. Ancel Keys, Eating Well [March/April 1997]
- Howard 330/241-~220
- 89 pounds down!!
- Abandoned Low Fat vegan fad diet in 1998
- Started Healthier Low-Carb Dec. 1999
- Lowered cholesterol and blood pressure
- eating eggs & red meat
- BP 169/90, now 120/70″
What a guy!!!!!!!
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