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!
“I was never overweight as a child, but I imagined that I was as a teen (a not uncommon delusion among lots of my peers back in the late 70s and early 80s. None of us looked like Twiggy, and we all thought we should.) My first pregnancy at the age of 19 was a toxemic one, and I gained 70 pounds before it was over. After that I just kept gaining weight slowly, a little more each year, until I reached an all-time high in 1999 approaching 300 pounds.”
During those years while I grew larger and larger, I, of course tried to lose the weight, several different times. I did the whole Slim-Fast thing more times than I care to remember, and I did the standard rice cake low-fat diet umpteen miserable times. When my cholesterol went high enough to really scare both my doctor and myself in 1998, I went to the nutritionist that my doctor recommended and combined her plan with regular exercise and tried again. But I could only lose a “little” weight on any of these plans (25 pounds over five months the last time, on the nutritionist’s low-fat plan) and the weight ALWAYS came back on, plus some – about 25% more than I lost, usually. When I was eating low-fat, which was the only way I then knew to diet, I was tired and irritable all the time. I was always thinking about food, yet never feeling satisfied by any of it. In an attempt to quell my constant hunger pains, I smoked like a chimney, making it even harder to exercise. After losing 25 pounds on the diet the doctor and nutritionist had designed for me, taking the expensive statin drug he had prescribed, and exercising regularly for several months, I expected to feel BETTER – but just the opposite was true. When they re-tested me after five months and I found out my triglycerides were twice as high as before, I got totally disgusted and swore off dieting for what I thought was “forever”.
When my husband announced in January 2000 that he’d run into an acquaintance of ours who had lost 45 pounds in a few months following the Atkins diet and he wanted to try it, I immediately declared “You can’t do that, it’s dangerous!” I was just reciting the garbage the media had spoon-fed me all of my life, of course, not speaking from any sort of real knowledge. When he insisted that he still wanted to try it, I bought Dr. Atkin’s New Diet Revolution and read it – and the rest is history.
It’s been almost four years since that fateful day, and since then I’ve published two low carb cookbooks. I haven’t eaten a kernel of fresh corn or even a bite of white potatoes or real sugar in any form, in all that time. I am not sure I EVER will, again. For me, the choice is simple. Corn, potatoes, and the like are just plain NOT worth trading for the knowledge that my butt will fit in any seat that the host or stewardess chooses to lead me to!
“It took me a long time (over three years) to revise my original goal and give up my fixation with that particular set of numbers. I really, really wanted to weigh less than 200 pounds again – but it doesn’t appear to be in the cards for me. Part of that may be truly due to the low carb mantra that muscle weighs more than fat, and part of that may due to my advancing age (yeah, sure!), but most of this is without a doubt due to the fact that I am only willing to bend just so far and give up just so much, on any plan. Oh, I can stick to almost anything temporarily – but that’s no good, because unless and until you find a plan that you satisfies you, one that you can stick to FOR LIFE, through both good times and bad, joy and stress, and in any restaurant, store, or home where you are a guest, you are destined to fail. For weight loss or health improvements to be permanent, the changes that are made have to be permanent as well. There are two basic things in life-related to my physical well being that I simply refuse to compromise long term – one is the taste of my food, and the other is the kind of obsessive craving hunger that overtook me whenever I tried to diet in the past. Low carb eating proved to be my salvation, enabling me to enjoy my food, every single bite, every single day, while losing weight and never feeling hungry. Instead of thinking about the foods I can’t (won’t) eat any more, I deliberately choose to rejoice in the many, many, foods that I can and do enjoy, instead.
What ended up working best for me ended up fitting perfectly within the lifetime maintenance plan outlined in Atkins for Life, a book in which I am very proud to be mentioned by name, and the one I myself most closely follow.
I have maintained my weight loss with ease, all this time, even though I managed to break a vertebrae in my back in 2002 while sledding with my son. I was effectively bedridden for months after that, and I was afraid I would gain the weight back when I stopped exercising, but it didn’t happen. (Yay!!) I have had oodles of expensive medical tests done this year, and they all prove that I am far healthier than I ever was before making the switch to LC. I consider myself a walking, talking, long-term study for low carb eating, and I have never run across a medical person yet who does not concede that my results are amazing – even the ones who are completely skeptical/ignorant about low carb eating at the beginning. Lab tests just don’t lie – and that is why low carbing will continue to gain momentum until the Standard American Diet has been completely transformed. I really believe that low carb is the healthiest way to eat that exists. Fortunately for me, I also think it is also the most satisfying and versatile!
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