Jean From Iowa’s Low Carb Success Story

Jean from Iowa is 41 and has gone from 190 pounds to 143.5 pounds and from a size 20/22 to an 8-10. Jean follows the Atkins program, with ‘shades of Protein Power.’

Jean weighed 125-130 pounds until she was 22 years old, when she gained 15 or more pounds to reach 140-142 pounds, then stayed at that weight until she was 33. “At that point I was promoted to a position that carried a lot of stress with it,” Jean told me. “I started eating to help cope with the stress. Food became a comfort to me. I just steadily gained weight. I held steady around 165 pounds for about a year, and then gained up to my maximum weight of 190 pounds when I was 37. At that point, I knew that I would be topping 200 in the next few months. The thought of it finally got me to the point where I wanted to do something about it. I didn’t like the fact that I had been steadily gaining, but it didn’t bother me until I realized 200 was so close.”

The first thing Jean did when she decided it was time to lose weight was to order Larry North’s Great North America Diet Plan package. “It came with a food diary that also indicated times of the day I should do some type of exercise and for how long,” Jean remembered. “Usually these were limited exercises for short periods of time scattered throughout the day. A cassette tape was included that gave a daily pep talk, a couple of recipe books, an explanation of the diet, and a very light set of weights to use while doing the exercises. I found the tapes to be incredibly motivating, and the diet was not overly difficult to follow. It was essentially a low fat/high carbohydrate type of plan. The reason that I tried it was that I had seen the infomercial. I liked the concept of a food diary and the daily tapes. Plus, I felt it would provide the motivation that I lacked, even though I was the one who had decided it was high time to lose the weight.”

“The first month actually went very well,” she continued. “The tapes had a month’s worth of daily pep talks, which really helped me out. They talked about all kinds of things like how much better you would feel at lower weights, why weight loss is so important to health, and how good carbohydrates were for you (despite the fact that they were getting a bad rap from other diet gurus). In addition, they included a tape for a 7 day “emergency” diet. This was to be done on a limited basis because it was ‘not as healthy‘, but if you needed to drop a size quickly for a reunion, wedding, or some special event this modified diet would help. What was the modified diet? Not eating carbohydrates at the evening meal!”

“But once the daily pep talks ran out, so did my enthusiasm. I stuck with it for about nine months, though. But I was feeling deprived, and I had only lost 10 pounds. At about the nine-month mark, I started gaining back the weight. I just felt hungry too often and I was tired of continuously wanting things that I couldn’t have. I felt like I was constantly fatigued, and my energy level had sunk to the point where I could hardly move. It also felt like I was really moody and, in the end, it just wasn’t worth it. Maybe I felt moody because I felt deprived, or maybe because of what I was eating. Maybe it was just job stress. I don’t really know, but I stopped the diet.”

“The Great North American Diet may work for some,” Jean said, “but it just wasn’t for me. I think people are made differently. Some get along very well on low fat/high carb diets, but I was just losing too slowly and feeling too deprived. Over the next 3 months, I essentially gained back all that I had lost in the nine months I followed the diet.”

About three months after Jean stopped the Great North American Diet, she was in a bookstore killing some downtime during a conference. “The week before the conference I had heard just a snippet of a radio broadcast about a ketogenic diet, but I didn’t catch the name,” she said. “This snippet and the Great North American Diet’s “emergency diet” with the no carbohydrate dinners it included from encouraged me to look into low carb.”

“I went to the diet section of the bookstore and looked through several different books about various plans. The one that grabbed my attention was Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution. It sounded similar to the plan I had heard about on the radio, so I bought the book. I quickly started to read it, and I as amazed that it seemed like he was talking about my situation so completely. I was SOLD! I had tried low fat. I felt deprived. The more carbohydrates I ate, the more carbohydrates I craved, and the weight loss was on a low fat/high carbohydrate diet was so minimal for me.”

“The thing that really grabbed me was the diagram of two oblong-shaped triangles that showed how our metabolism can get out of balance and how by cutting down on carbohydrates, and relying more heavily on protein as a percentage of the food intake can counter balance a poor metabolism. I just had to try this. I was so enthused by the possibility of actually taking weight off, and in a way that sounded delicious and allowed me to eat whenever I was hungry! It sounded too good to be true!”

Jean got rid of the high carbohydrate food items in her home by donating them to the local food pantry and restocked her kitchen with low carbohydrate-friendly items. “It was the second time that I went through a restocking process within a year,” she said. “I thought the cost was going to kill me!” Jean laughed. “I told myself, ‘It had better work out!’ I went out and bought lots of vitamins, though not the Atkins vitamins, as I was already broke from restocking my food supply! I still can’t believe the timing of my starting this plan. I began on December 7, 1998, right in the midst of a ton of Christmas parties and get-togethers.”

“I thought that setting a goal of losing 55 pounds was totally unrealistic, but you have to set goals, so why not make my goal what I wanted to actually weight when I achieved it?”

“I was so excited about this” Jean added, “that I started reading other low carb books. I have read Protein Power, The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet, Get Thin on Fabulous Foods, The Schwartzbein Principle, and any magazine articles I could find. I also joined the Atkins Support List at Yahoo Groups on the Internet, owned by Terry Ross. The support that these people have provided has been invaluable to me. There are always people willing to help, and it is a very friendly list.”

“Except for eating a few baby carrots, that I initially didn’t realize were higher in carbohydrates, I stayed at induction levels for two solid weeks. I was so excited to complete induction and so crushed to step on the scale and find I had only lost 4 pounds. I was expecting the kind of weight loss I had read about in the book. I felt Dr. Atkins could have better stated that the huge weight loss is not normal for everyone. I was determined, though, and I did realize that I had lost four pounds in two weeks as opposed to 10 pounds in nine months like I did on the Great North American Diet. So I stayed at induction levels for the first three months. Right through Christmas, my birthday on December 31, and New Years.”

“Was it worth? You bet! I lost 30 of my 55 pound goal in the first 3 months! Suddenly I was wearing size 16 clothes, and getting complimentsevery time I turned around. 55 pounds no longer seemed unrealistic. I started increasing my carbohydrate consumption very, very slowly. I went from a 20 grams a day maximum to 25 grams a day for three weeks, then I went to 30 grams a day for three weeks, then to 40 grams a day, etc.”

“By the time my niece got married in May of 1999 I was down to 142 pounds. I had lost 48 pounds in about six months! It wasn’t always a smooth and steady weight loss. While I never had a ‘true stall’ as defined by no weight or inches loss for six weeks, I found that my weight hit set points on the way down the scale. I stayed at 160-165 for what seemed like ages, then the weight started coming off again. I stuck at 142 pounds for even longer before it started to move. Interestingly, those were the same weights that I had stayed at for some time while gaining. I guess my body likes those particular weights. I was not really concerned about the last few pounds. I looked and felt so much better that I really tested the boundaries of pre-maintenance.”

“I did eventually hit a low of 134.5 pounds, and it was on Thanksgiving Day, 2000. Then, I decided that I had maintained my weight loss for nearly two years, why not let myself enjoy the holidays a little. Well, I enjoyed them a little too much and gained weight back up to 145 pounds. At that point, I knew the upward spiral had started again and I had to stop it.”

“I restarted Atkins, and have found that it much harder the second time around. I lack the will power because I am basically back in pre-maintenance. The appetite suppressing and carbohydrate-craving control that I experienced during the induction and ongoing weight loss phases is no longer helping me. I struggle on the weekends, then take the weight off again during the week. I have, however, stopped the upward spiral and know that once I break through that 140-142 set point, I will be able to get back to my goal weight. The nice thing is that I am still wearing size 8-10 and I am comfortable and happy with my body. That gives me a confidence that I lacked when I was heavier.”

“Low carbing was the answer for me!” Jean exclaimed. “While I may be challenged at times to stay at really low carbohydrate intake levels, I will never again be at the unrestricted carbohydrate intake levels I ate during my weight gaining period. The plan is easy to follow and understand. You don’t have to count calories. You can eat when hungry and have the delicious foods that most diets forbid. This will be a permanent lifestyle change for me, though I know that the cheats will come, they will not take over again. I feel healthy now, my mood swings are minimal, and they are not related to diet woes. I have more energy and, best of all, I feel good about how I look!”

The biggest challenge for Jean was learning to ignore the nay sayers. “There are a lot of them,” she said. “Fortunately, my family supports my weight loss program. Some of them have tried it and lost, some of them would like to try it but are ‘too addicted to carbs’ to do so. When my friends finally try it, if they ever do, I will know that I have achieved success. I will have helped people I care about who would benefit greatlyfrom weight loss.”

In the two and a half years Jean has been doing Atkins, she has learned several things. “One is that it isn’t as expensive as I thought it would be when I started,” she said. “Yes, it was expensive when I restocked the kitchen and bought all those vitamins, particularly because I thought I should have steak every night since I had been so deprived of it on the Great North American Diet. But once I had been doing it for some time, I found it was less expensive. I wasn’t eating as much. I wasn’t spending money on bags of chips or Healthy Choice cookies. I learned that always having something available didn’t mean fixing so much that you had to throw it out spoiled just because you weren’t hungry for it.”

“I have also learned that trying to reduce my fat intakes slows my weight loss, and that certain foods which would ‘appear’ to be bad for me actually increase my weight loss. I’m delighted to say that low carb cheesecake is one of them! However, I don’t recommend a regular helping of cheesecake. Legal desserts can lead to illegal desserts, and going off course makes it a real challenge to get back on track. It will never be as easy to lose as it was the first time you tried.”

“I have also learned that maintenance is harder that the initial induction and ongoing weight loss phases of the diet. But I have found that even bad days of eating are better days of eating than I had prior to losing weight. I have also learned that I can make better food than any of the prepackaged low carb products. If you want something prepackaged, don’t buy low carb bars, but buy individually wrapped servings of real cheese and little bags of nuts instead. They taste a lot better and don’t have hidden carbs!”

In conclusion, Jean added, “Yesterday while walking across the college campus where I work I was stopped by a professor that I very rarely see. He said “I apologize if this is something I shouldn’t comment on, but you have really slimmed down, haven’t you?” Since I slimmed down nearly two years ago, I had really been missing comments like those, and I was thrilled with his comment!”


Jean subscribes to Terri Ross’s online support group, the Atkins Support List. You can find information about the group at: Click here: Yahoo! Groups : Atkins_Support_List

Check Also

Karen Rysavy from Colorado Low Carb Success Story

Karen Rysavy from Colorado is 38 years old and 5'11 inches tall. Karen started low carbing in 2000 doing a combination of Atkins and Protein Power but since that time has studied most of the popular low carb plans out there and implemented parts of each (the parts that worked for her) into her own personal Way of Eating. She began at 271 pounds and wearing size 24/26 and is now 210 and wearing 14/18. Karen revised her goal of a size 12 and 185 pounds to "happy and healthy". A very important goal for Karen, one which she has REACHED!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: