Mary Ann From Pennsylvania’s Low Carb Success Story

Success Stories

Mary Ann from Pennsylvania is 51 years old and 5′ 1″ tall.

“I don’t believe in ‘weight.’ The scale is the biggest deceiver in the history of dieting and weight loss,” Mary Ann told me. “You see ‘miracle’ potions in a bottle that claim you can loose 10 pounds in a weekend, and you might. But it is not ‘fat’ you are loosing. You can be a skinny little thing and you might think you are wonderfully healthy, but when you starved yourself to get that way, you actually may have lost muscle mass and even bone because if you do not eat ‘right’ to loose weight, your body will actually begin to cannibalize itself!”

Mary Ann uses other means to chart her weight loss progress.

“I, as well as many of my low carbing friends, always say to let your clothes tell you if you are loosing ‘inches.’ If you wear woven pants not stretch pants and you will know. I lift weights and walk at least four miles a day. I have a lot of muscle. Muscle ‘weighs’ more than fat; a pound of muscle takes up much less room in the human body that a pound of fat does. If you are gaining muscle while you are losing fat, you might go down two pants sizes and not have the scale budge an ounce! Or worse yet, you can go down a pants size and (gasp!), gain weight if you start to exercise after you start to diet. Compare muscle to a tennis ball and a golf ball. The tennis ball is light but it is much larger, the golf ball is small and firm. You want to be small and firm!! So I will not say what I weigh, but I will say that I went from a size 20 to a size 10/12 in five months!” Mary Ann exclaimed.

“Yes, that is right, and I am still the same weight two years later! Would I like to be an even smaller size? Yes, I would! But it seems this is where my body wants to be, and if I think of it as being ‘much smaller’ than I was instead of agonizing over that last 8 or so pounds, my attitude will be much better. I am healthy, and that is the most important in the end.”

“I started out on Suzanne Somers, and my initial weight loss came from her diet. I was skimming thorough the TV stations one day and happened to see Suzanne Somers cooking all the good foods from her books, and I realized that her diet was what I was doing, only I didn’t have a name for it and she did,” Mary Ann laughed. So I ordered her book and video and I have to say that I learned you can cook wonderful food and eat well without all the potatoes, rice, pasta, etc.”

“After I read the forward in her book by Diana Schwarzbein, I went out and bought The Schwarzbein Principal. Reading Dr. Schwarzbein’s book and her explanations of how your body and hormones work to keep you healthy was my second influential step toward low carbing. Later, after some Internet exploring, I found several other low carb ‘methods’ and read up on most of them, too. After several months of tweaking all of them to suit my needs, I now have my own modified ‘controlled carbohydrate’ diet that I can live with.”

“After the initial weight loss, I played with the numbers until I knew how many carbohydrates I could eat and still maintain my weight. I never ate excessive amounts of protein like the media likes to portray low carbers consuming. I eat a LOT of vegetables. This works for me. The most important thing for me in this controlled carbohydrate way of eating is that I am NEVER hungry.”

“On other diets I would clock watch until time for my next meal. I felt that I was ‘missing out’ on good foods, and I felt deprived and hungry all the time. This was especially true when I was on the low fat diet my doctor insisted I be on. I even tried the Weight Watchers ‘points’ system, but hey, the carbohydrates were there for me to eat and being a carb addict I ate them.”

“Did I try other diets earlier? Of course I did! Someone I knew was always on a ‘new’ diet and we all went on them together. We all lost weight at first, but only about 5 pounds. Then we would gain it back and more! It was frustrating, and we would say many times that ‘it is our age,’ or ‘it is our ‘genetics.’ You all know the excuses we have to make ourselves feel better about being fat. No one ever said, ‘We eat too many carbohydrates!’ After all, carbohydrates where good for you, right? If you look at the food pyramid, you are supposed to eat more of them than other foods, right? And the food pyramid must be right! Trusting… yes, I was.”

“I no longer take any medication. I have always been one who took very few pills unless I was really sick. I was on hormone replacement therapy when I first started through menopause, but after reading and hearing all the conflicting information about HRT (hormone replacement therapy), I went off them. And guess what? I got through menopause anyway! I do weight bearing exercises to keep my bone density and my muscle tone.”

“I have been a little overweight for about 10 years. You gain a little here and a little there until one day you can’t get your jeans zipped. Then you go out and get larger jeans and gain a little here and a little there… until one day you are shopping the plus size department! It is easy to do in a country like ours, where – whether it is a good thing or a bad thing – we have so much food available to most of us. We become accustomed to ‘biggie’ servings until we no longer know what a normal serving size is anymore! We feel that if our plates are not overflowing, we are being cheated in a meal. We don’t even know what ‘mealtime’ is anymore! We eat constantly simply because food is constantly available!”

“Most of what we consider a ‘quick meal’ is actually the very worst of what we should actually put in our bodies. ‘Fast’ food is chemical laden and fried to death faux food! Sadly, we are passing this unhealthy way of eating down to our children, who do not know about vegetables nor would even consider putting them in their mouths! This is a sad state that we have been in for many years now, and finally some people are finally realizing seeing what it is doing to our country and are trying to find a ‘cure’ for it.”

“Unfortunately, there are still the large influencing sanctions that refuse to budge on bit on their theories of high carbohydrate/low fat eating. Who will be the first to admit that maybe they made a mistake? I see a lot of articles about low carbing… I see lots of articles about the positive results of low carbing… but in the very last paragraph they will always make some statement that covers their behind and that says, “Okay, maybe it does work but you didn’t hear it from me!'”

“I don’t know if anyone else has ever started out going sugar free and low carbohydrate for any reason other than weight loss, but I actually started this way of eating to cure my fibromyalgia. ‘Cure’ fibromyalgia… yeah, I did! It is very easy to plunge into hopelessness and helplessness when one is suffering from intense pain and ineffective treatments.”

“About the end of 2000, I started to go though menopause. Need I say more? My hormones went wacko and so did I. The depression, sleeping all day long, a lack of interest in my house or my hobbies… this all started about November 2000. I had built a fishpond in July, digging the hole by hand, hauling rocks and stacking them into the pond wall, ledge and waterfall I felt wonderful, I was being creative, and I was loosing weight and getting exercise all at the same time. I was fine physically and emotionally until the night sweats started. I did not sleep for two months. By December I was a wreck! I became depressed and lost interest in most of the things that made me happy, and the more depressed I got, the more I ate. The more I ate sugar and potato chips, the more sugar and carbohydrates I wanted, and the more I wanted, the more I ate! That is when I started to ache all over.”

“I was getting heavier and heavier. I thought at first it was from sitting on the sofa all day watching TV and eating chocolates and cake. Several days before Christmas one of our very good friends shot himself! His life disaster changed my whole life; it was my ‘turning point.’ That woke me up! How could anyone be so depressed and not get help? I was so upset over his unnecessary death, and with the thought that perhaps you can get so depressed that you just want to end your life. I knew then that I had to kick myself in the ass and get my life back together.”

“I finally went to my doctor when I hurt all over so badly that I had to use two hands to put my teacup to my mouth. I could not even reach into my cupboards and grab something without dropping it. It was agonizing to wash my hair because it hurt to hold my arms up to my head and use my fingers to scrub my head. The hip that I had therapy on a year ago began to hurt again so badly that I could not even sleep on my side. (Sleep? Well, as much as I could sleep!)”

“My doctor concluded that barring anything ‘abnormal’ in my blood work, that I may have fibromyalgia. She may as well have given me a death sentence! I am on enough Internet lists with enough women afflicted with fibromyalgia that I was familiar with fibromyalgia and with the fact that everyone who has is miserable. Their lives as they knew them where gone. There are days when they just cannot get out of bed. They are in constant pain, some are even on crutches, and most take so many prescription drugs that it is staggering! I did not want that to happen to me! I have two grandchildren, and I wanted to be able to play with them, take long hikes with them in the woods, swim, and do all other things that grammas do to have fun.”

“I was determined that if this illness could start… it could stop! The doctors seemed to have very little information fibromyalgia, so I set out to educate myself by using the Internet. What I found was dismal. I joined some fibromyalgia lists and wish I never did… such depressing places. Women on five different medications fighting every day just to keep some semblance of what life they used to have. It made me even more depressed, so I got out of there as quickly as I got in!”

“When I got the symptoms of fibromyalgia, I was gorging myself with holiday chocolates, cookies, and all the other goodies the holidays bring. I gained back the ten pounds that I lost over the summer when I worked so hard in the yard. In addition to that, I was on a ‘low fat’ diet, and my doctor gave me Xenical ‘to help me loose weight.’ (Yeah, right!) I guess I thought I should eat more carbohydrates and lots of fruit and fruit juices and NO FAT. Little did I know at the time that that very low fat diet was destroying me!”

“After the blood work came back, the doctors office called and they told me the blood work was all ‘normal’ except that my triglycerides where high and that I was to go ahead and begin taking the Prempro. (I have to admit about one week after starting the Prempro the night sweats completely went away, the depression lessened so my life became a little more bearable. But now I was fat and miserable.)”

“But that was all they said! What about the fibromyalgia? What can I take for it? What can I do about it? They simply told me that I could take pain pills and antidepressants for it. No thank you! I saw enough the effects of that ‘solution’ on the Internet lists, and it was not going to happen to me. The worst part was I was being told there was nothing I could do. Fibromyalgia is incurable; live with it!”

“So I went on an Internet “search and destroy mission” for the fibromyalgia! I became “armed and dangerous!” And yes, I found hope and help! Two web pages came up when I put in ‘fibromyalgia’ and ‘cure.’ Both of them had wonderful information on them. A vitamin regime was the first and foremost plan of attack to restore my immune system and get my body functioning the way it should.”

“The second thing that I found both sites recommended was that they both advocated giving up sugar and ‘white stuff.’ After all my research, all my digging and emailing and questioning, the first thing I decided I had to do was build up my immune system and try to give up the white sugar, flour and starchy carbohydrates. My low carb life started as a cure a chronic illness! I did not even know at the time that this diet and I where going to change my life forever.”

“I went to the health food store armed with my supply list. Vitamins, vitamins and more vitamins, plus herbs and compounds. I had them all in my basket. I started on a diet of NO sugar, moderate amounts of complex carbs, (about 32 grams a day), more protein, lots of non-starchy vegetables, and ‘regular’ meal times.”

“After being told for many years that ‘low fat’ was the only healthy way to eat, you can imagine my guilt when I started eating nuts, butter, and even bacon and eggs! It was hard at first!” Mary Ann laughed. “In the first few days, I felt like I was going through drug withdraw. Later I learned that in effect, I was! Getting all that sugar out of my body really confused the heck out of it, and it was not happy about it! After about four days, the effect of changing my eating in this way stunned me. Not only did I begin to feel better in a just few days, I started to loose weight – about a pound a day! I felt incredible. My mood swings disappeared. I felt focused and clear and excited about life again. I stopped feeling compulsive about food and stopped craving sugar and sweets. I thought I was eating junk food because I was depressed, but I realized that I was eating all that sugar and carbohydrates because my body was addicted to them!”

“The changes I experienced by changing the foods I was eating convinced me that I had had what I now call ‘sugar poisoning.’ (Please remember, this is only my term formy illness.) But in my mind, if I called it ‘sugar poisoning,’ I thought twice from then on about everything I put in my mouth.”

“I had dieted before but never felt like this. I was never hungry. I actually felt like I was eating way too much food! How could this be? This felt like recovery! And guess what… in just two weeks my fibromyalgia pains started to lessen and I felt GREAT! I was sleeping better too. One morning my husband came in the kitchen and looked at me strangely. When I asked him what he was looking at, he told me that I was humming! Can you imagine? He was shocked that I was happy again! I was smiling inside and out.”

“I learned about ‘sugar sensitivity’ after starting the low carbohydrate diet. There is a book by Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D., called Potatoes Not Prozac. ( This book was intended to outline the theory of sugar sensitivity and explain how high sugar foods can change brain and body chemistry. The book identifies all the things I experienced: depression, mood swings, compulsivity, and weight issues. It talks about using food as an alternative to medication.”

“Potatoes Not Prozac also introduces the theory of sugar sensitivity. A friend told me about the idea of sugar sensitivity, and I read with great interest. The web page/book helps you to ‘wean’ yourself off the sugar and white foods if that if what you need to do. After reading the book, I realized that for many years I had been a carbohydrate addict and had not even known it! Knowing that sugar sensitivity it is a real issue with many people helped me to feel better about myself and helped me stay focused on controlling my health by controlling my diet.”

“And here I go… the big E word… exercise! It’s extremely important to get off our fannies and move! Humans are almost all water. If we let water sit and stagnate, it gets foul and laden with bacteria and other things we don’t even want to think about! Well, so will we! So get up and shake yourself up a bit every day.”

“I felt so great after my initial weight loss that I started to walk on the treadmill for exercise. Yes, we had one… but you know how that goes! I only walked about 15 minutes at first, but that was better than nothing! Every day I walked a little more, and then a little more. In about three weeks, I found myself getting up an hour early, and walking for an hour! I got thinner and thinner and firmer and firmer. I was so excited!”

“I was addicted to exercise by then, but that was far better than being addicted to the sugar! Then I dragged home a Total Gym. I started to work out on it regularly. And I started to look great… really I did! I was loosing weight like mad and all the exercise was toning and firming body parts that had not know what ‘firm’ was for many years. Like under my arms! Like my thighs! Like my big fat … well, you know, the part you sit on!”

“You do have time to exercise! You can find very creative ways to get moving more. You can exercise throughout the day if you have very limited time. Park in the last parking space away from the store and walk a little to get there. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. I keep a set of 8-pound weights by the microwave. When I put in my tea to heat for 3 minutes, I lift the weights! Keep an exercise band handy. You can read your computer mail and stretch the band in front of you, over head, wrap it around your thighs and pull your lets apart, and you tone your legs. Loop the band over your feet and pull in your arms to your chest. You will tone your arms and your chest at the same time. “

“At this point I needed new clothes. I went shopping one day and found it very difficult to reach for smaller size clothes. I didn’t know what it was like, going from a size 20, to shop from the ‘little cute clothes’ racks. And then there on one of the clothing racks I saw this slinky little tropical sundress, and I fell in love with it. It was lime green and white tie die with skinny little straps… As a size 20 I would not have looked twice at it. And even though I was smaller, I was not quite ready to squeeze into that. But I bought it! Yes, I did! I hung it in my bedroom where I could see it all the time. So I set a goal. I was determined to wear that dress to my 50th birthday in May.”

“Did I? Yes, I did indeed! I did wore that dress out to dinner and I felt like a queen in it. I felt wonderful, and sexy, and sizzling hot! You have to understand that not in a million years did I ever, ever believe that I would look like this again. Was it the diet? Yes! Was it sheer determination? Yes! Was it determination to wear the dress? Yes, it was! But I think the lesson here from me is this: YOU and only YOU can make your life better for YOU.”

“Doctors can hand out a dozen pills, staple your stomach so you can’t eat, and you can spend millions of dollars on gimmick diet drinks and fly-by-night promises in a bottle. But those are only crutches. If you really want to walk on your own again, and feel great, and look great, you have to redesign your eating habits, find out what works for you, and have the determination to stick to it. Don’t let anyone tell you it is easy to do! It is not easy to do! Especially when you have so many food choices in front of you. When everyone around you is eating whatever they please, and you have to make ‘choices,’ you sometimes feel cheated. Yes, they are many ‘healthy choices,’ but gee whiz, there where times when triple chocolate fudge cake is what I really wanted! When you go into a restaurant and they insist on pushing rice, potatoes or pasta on you, look them right in the eye and tell them you don’t eat those choices and ask, “What kind of vegetables do you have?’ Then order a double serving! (I have sometimes been told, ‘We don’t have any vegetables.” We never go back there.)”

“My husband gets embarrassed when I say that quite bluntly, but I really feel that places that offer to feed you and be paid for doing so need to know that there are now people out there that want better choices! It might not do any good to make a fuss, but then again, it might. At least I feel I am doing my part to promote a healthier lifestyle.”

“The second thing I do is to ask for a take-home box with my meal. I put 1/2 of what I get served into the box before I eat. Why? I have heard so many say, ‘Gee, I shouldn’t have eaten all that.’ But they did anyway just because it was there on their plate. So I learned a few tricks to keep myself on track; you will too. Makegood choices. Never think about what you can’t have with this way of eating. Think about all the good and wonderful foods you can have, and you will find sticking to a low carbohydrate style of eating much easier.”

“I do not miss any of the white starchy stuff anymore. If I go to eat at a family gathering, I make sure that I take along something we can eat. If you still have a sweet tooth, I purchased Baking Low Carb by Diana Lee. It has wonderful recipes. But do remember they are not calorie-free, so once again make good choices! Eat one low carb cookie and a huge cup of tea or water instead of eating six low carb cookies!”

“Most importantly, get good support where you can. Long time low carbers can give good advice, and when you see that they have been living a low carbohydrate lifestyle for years and it still works for them, then you will be encouraged.”

“When I mentioned my low carbohydrate lifestyle and my improved health on my Internet quilt list, so many listmembers showed interest that I stated a spin-off Internet list called Quilters for Good Health. ( It is a very small and personal list where we have all become very good friends. And there is so much support there! When you share your triumphs and pitfalls with others in the same boat, it is so much easier to get through them. We share recipes we invent, good days, bad days, and best days. We have become a little healthy family of friends in cyberspace, and it sure makes me realize what good low carbing can do when I see so many people becoming healthier and happier with this way of eating. Quilters for Good Health did not start out as a low carb list, but a list for sharing how we as quilters, who do have a sedentary hobby, can keep healthier. But I have to tell you that mostly everyone on it that contributes to the flow of conversation now low carbs!”

“My other hint is to toss out everything you should not have. It was easy for me to do this because I don’t have any children at home. My husband complained endlessly at first, but guess what? Yes, he ate what I did because that is what was there… and he lost weight, went off his blood pressure medication because his pressure went to normal! He also was able to discontinue taking his heartburn medicine! How could this be? Low carbing!”

“Oh, and yes, I really feel I must tell you about my doctor, who told me that I would kill myself by going off a low fat diet and instead following eating a low carb diet. Of course, the low fat regime wasn’t working, so he insisted I eat even less fat. I did that, and gained 10 pounds, and my cholesterol did not go down! My cholesterol was 225 at the time, and he pressured me many times to take drugs for it. I wanted to try alternative ways to lower it.”

“When I had my cholesterol checked about 10 months after I started low carbing, my doctor’s jaw about fell to floor. He choked on his words: ‘Well, your cholesterol is perfect. Whatever you are doing, just keep it up!’ When he walked into the room he hadn’t even recognized me! He was expecting a weeping, depressed, fat woman with fibromyalgia, and came face to face with a now much thinner, happier, more energetic woman with great muscle tone. Was he ecstatic? No! Why? You know why!”

“I wanted him to say, ‘Wow, what did you do so I can help other patients?’ But he didn’t, and that made me sad. He still pushes low fat. And will he put down on my chart that I no longer have fibromyalgia pain? No, he will not! He keeps saying it is ‘in remission and will come back.’ I have to say that I believe he is wrong!”

“Now I know this was a long way around to first tell you about my illnesses, then to tell you about my low carb diet and my weight loss. But I think it is very important to let others know that there are certain people (and this might not be the case for everyone with chronic pain) that develop a sensitivity to sugar. And lets face it, ‘carbohydrates’ is just a fancy name for sugar. To me, changing my eating habits changed more that my weight on the scale, it changed my life.”

“What did I have wrong with me before low carbing?”

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Depression
  • Irritable bladder
  • Sleeplessness
  • “Brain fog”
  • Chronic infections that were always treated with antibiotics
  • Recent hormone changes due to menopause

“What do I have wrong with me now?? NOTHING!”

“I started my low carbohydrate way of life about February of 2000. It is now December 2002, and I still low carb. I have not gained any of the weight back except occasionally when due to my own arrogance, I think, ‘a few desserts won’t hurt me.’ Then the waist in my pants gets tighter and my joints start to ache. It only takes those little shocks to get me back on track, and then I am fine again.”

“The most important factor in my improved health is that of lifestyle change, which includes (for me) eating low carb, exercising, drinking lots of water, and taking the appropriate vitamins. When your health improves, so does your outlook on life. And when your outlook on life improves, so does your health.”

“It is one large circle, ‘the circle of life.’ I have heard that phrase many times and really never knew what it meant until now. And that is where I am today. Take charge of your own life! You know your body better than anyone. I am not saying to ignore your own doctor and do whatever you want to. I am saying to listen to what your body is telling you and go by that to improve your own health. I have no medical/herbal training, but I am a good investigator!”

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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