Lisa from Chicago’s Low Carb Success Story

Lisa is 35, and has been on the Atkins program since January 10, 2000. She has lost 87 pounds and gone from a size 30/32 to a 16! She is still going strong on the way to her goal size of a 10.

“I started gaining weight when I was 16 and got my driver’s license,” she told me. “Before that, I rode a bike everywhere. Once I started driving, the weight started inching up. I guess I needed that exercise to keep it somewhat under control.”

I asked Lisa about her past attempts at weight loss, to which she replied “I have tried them all, but I can summarize the major attempts for you.”

Lisa tried Richard Simmons because he had lost a lot of weight himself and she liked his energy and attitude. “I like that he used real “fat” people in his exercise videos,” she said “I tried it for about four months, lost some weight, but was hungry all the time. It was too hard for me to stick with, and it made me feel bad that everyone was telling me’ low fat, low fat,’ but I just couldn’t do it. I gained back the 15 pounds I lost, plus a lot more.

Next Lisa tried Jenny Craig, figuring the structure of the program would make it easy to stick with. “I was on it eight months, had lots of energy, lost weight and felt good. But it was so expensive! By the time I bought my food, still having to go to the grocery store to shop for my family, it was horrible! I thought about food constantly. I remember checking the menu I posted on the fridge all the time, to see what I could eat and when I could eat again.”

“My hair started falling out after a while. Their nurse said I needed to add “a little” fat back in. So, they let me have three teaspoons of butter a day. My hair did stop falling out.”

“I lost 105 pounds in seven months. Once I was on their maintenance program, where you are eating real food and not their packaged stuff, the weight started coming back. They accused me of cheating constantly, which I wasn’t. I would never recommend this to anyone, I think it’s a fraud. Once you go to regular food, if you eat over 1000 calories a day the weight comes back.

Lisa tried Weight Watchers for about two weeks with her sister-in-law. “I hated the group meetings! It seemed like everyone talked about everything but weight loss. I hated weighing in front of everyone. It was too much stress for me on top of trying to lose weight.”

Next came Lisa’s attempt at the Enforma System. “This was a fat trapper and an ‘exercise in a bottle,'” she told me. “Several people I knew were trying it and I figured, why not? Not only did I not lose an ounce, I had terrible stomach problems! I tried it for a month and then gave the bottles to a friend who wanted to try it.”

Lisa tried Slim Fast several times over the years. “I never could get used to drinking my meals,” she said. “I was hungry and irritable. Also, they were gross! But, every time I saw one of the commercials I would try it again. Usually ended up giving them to my mother-in-law, who actually likes them!”

Lisa noted that she never tried exercise at all, though she did try walking regularly when she was on Jenny Craig. She walked around 30 minutes three times a week.

“I always hung out in the bookstore and checked out the new diet books,” Lisa said. “My thinking was that if I bought every single one, eventually I would find one that would work for me. One week, I bought the Atkins book”

“The good parts so outnumber the bad parts of this way of life,” she said “I feel good, I am losing weight, and I have adopted a healthier lifestyle. (Not a diet!) It’s one that I can live with forever. I can actually eat and not count calories or fat. I can actually eat fat!! I do miss popcorn at the movies and pizza once in a while. And I had to learn to cook real food instead of dialing for dinner every night.”

“It really is working, where other attempts never did. I believe in my heart that I have finally found that ‘magic formula’ that works for me. The weight is coming off slowly. I know that’s the best way, but I’m impatient. I love what I can eat and rarely miss what I can’t. I think that is the key.

“There really is no feeling of deprivation. This is a permanent lifestyle change for me. Once I hit my goal, I can see myself adapting to maintenance forever. My doctor says with a little more weight loss, I can try going off the blood pressure pills I have been on for 11 years.”

Lisa’s husband, Peter, provides wonderful support for her. “He supports me in whatever I do. He pointed out to me that I now have lost 25 pounds more than my 11 year old son weighs! I tried picking him up and could barely do it, yet I used to carry that around 24/7. What an eye opener! My son, Matthew, is my biggest supporter. He has appointed himself my ‘Diet Cop,’ and watches every thing I touch. He keeps an eye out for slips I might make, which are very rare, but I enjoy teasing him by picking up a donut and smelling it once in a while,” Lisa grinned.

As far as feedback from friends and other people, Lisa says she gets two responses. “Either people tell me about someone they know that’s on Atkins or they tell me it isn’t healthy. Either way, I nod and say ‘It works for me.”

When Lisa reached her one year anniversary on Atkins she noted some reflections of that first year.

  • I did not die from giving up caffeine.
  • Contrary to my previous opinions, exercise did not kill me, either.
  • It is possible to live without potato chips.
  • What a difference a year makes!
  • I have lost a whole lot of weight and gained so many other things in one year.

“As I said before, my entire life I have been pretty much been a sedentary person. I even hated walking. I had pneumonia last year right after starting Atkins. I was bedridden for about four weeks. It took another 4-6 weeks before I had the energy to even go back to work. I decided then, that I needed to change other parts of my life in addition to my eating habits. I added exercise to my lifestyle. I started with walking. Believe me, I could barely make it around the block at first. For one week, I walked around that block. Then the next week, I did two times around. When I got up to four times, I mapped out a one mile and a two mile route. I started with the one mile, five times per week and progressed to the two mile.”

“Last August I met the personal trainer at the gym where I belonged. (Notice I didn’t say ‘went.’) I started going three times a week, and then moved up to four in November in addition to walking. I have since joined a full service gym and hired a trainer there. I gave up walking five times a week for aerobics 3 times and walking on the treadmill 2 times, plus training 4 times a week.”

“It makes for a horrible busy schedule, but my family is supporting me in my quest to be healthier. My son wants me to be able to run around with him and not get winded. I actually find I like the exercise! Well, I really enjoy the benefits that I get from it more than the actual exercise. I really recommend it to everyone, especially those low carbers that are like I was, very heavy and sedentary. Once you start, you become addicted to it!”

Lisa recently became frustrated with how her weight loss was going and some symptoms of hunger she was having She wanted to share what was happening, and how she alleviated the problem in the hope that perhaps someone else out there would find it useful for them.

“I had been out of ketosis for four weeks, even though I was only eating around 12-15 grams of carbohydrates a day. I still lost some weight for the first 2 weeks of the month, but not much. I did a fat fast for two days and got into deep ketosis by the end of the first day and had lost 1.5 pounds by the third morning.”

“That day, I ate 3 eggs scrambled in butter with 1 tablespoon cream cheese and 2 slices of bacon for breakfast, broiled steak and a salad with 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing for lunch, and salmon and a salad at a restaurant for dinner. I had a snack of baked pork loin around 7 PM. When I checked before bed, I was out of ketosis again! In the morning I was back up the 1.5 pounds.”

“The other thing was that someone on my low carb email support list, AtkinsAWayOfLife, mentioned being hungry soon after eating nearly a pound of steak. This was happening to me, too. I would eat lunch at work at noon and by 2:00 my stomach would actually growling. I would bring a snack and eat it then, and my stomach would be growling again by 4 PM. I tried eating a lot more meat at lunch, but it didn’t make a difference. On the day I tried to eat more, I was up 2 pounds the next day, although it came back off right away.”

“Well, I decided to have a phone consult with the Atkins Center to see if they could help me with some of the things that have been going on–no ketosis, always hungry, etc.,” Lisa told me. She spoke with Jerri, the head nutritionist at the Atkins Center. Here are the things Jerri told her:

  1. After a while on low carb your body can begin processing protein as glucose and treating it the same as carbs. (“Remember,” Lisa said, “I said someone on my list said they could eat a pound of steak and be hungry 30 minutes later? Well, that’s what is happening!”)
  2. Always eat before you exercise. If you don’t, your body will go into starvation mode because it thinks you are at a concentration camp, with little food and being forced to expend lots of calories.
  3. Eat your vegetables at lunch so you have more time to process the carbohydrates. (“I usually have a salad with lunch and veggies with dinner,” said Lisa.)
  4. Eat more fat. (“She said to eat 1/2 of an avocado a day,” said Lisa, “mashed with a little onion and lemon juice. Eat it by itself or smeared on meat.”)
  5. Cut protein to 4-6 ounces at lunch and dinner

“She told me to eat only 2 eggs for breakfast, have a snack of 1 ounce nuts, eat 4-6 ounces of protein and 1/2 a cup of vegetables at lunch, and 4-6 ounces of protein at dinner along with 1/2 of an avocado. She said to eat my dinner salad at 3 PM before I leave work, and to mix in some olive oil with my ranch dressing for extra fat, then come home and eat the protein before I head to over to the gym. When I get home from the gym, she told me to eat 4 ounces of heavy cream whipped with some sugar free DaVinci syrup.”

“I have been following the recommendations by the Atkins nutritionist for a few days now. Yes, that 4 ounces of whipped cream has been a terrible hardship for me!” Lisa laughed. Today I was finally back in ketosis! It’s been over 2 months since I have had a positive reading of any kind! I really think she was right in saying that my body is processing protein as carbohydrates. I had cut down to zero carbohydrates, and still wasn’t in ketosis. Now, I’m eating about 20-25 grams of carbohydrates and I’m in ketosis. I am down 3 pounds this week in spite of it being my time of month! I hope it continues!! (I still don’t like that avocado, though! I think they’re kind of nasty tasting. Hopefully, it is an acquired taste.)”

Lisa has a couple tips for low carbers. One is to watch the amounts of spices you use. “There are carbs in cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, garlic powder, etc. Just about everything. These can really add up if you are shaking on the spices with a heavy hand. Also,” she added, “once you make this a way of life and not a “diet,” you must stop thinking of eating something with carbs as “cheating.” I believe when you reach goal you can incorporate some of these things into your lifestyle, not every day, not even once a week, but have a small piece of cake at your birthday party, etc. But wait until you are at goal and are on maintenance!”

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!

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