PJ From Illinois’ Low Carb Success Story

PJ from Illinois is 43 years old and has followed the Somersize program since February of 2001. Her weight has dropped from 313 pounds to 191 pounds. (That’s 122 pounds in just ten months!) PJ is well on her way to her goal of weight of 150 pounds.

PJ is 5′ 9,” and is now wearing a size 12/14, down from the 26/28W clothes she was wearing in February! Her goal size is a 10.

“In high school,” PJ said. “I counted calories, but always believed there had to be more to it than that because it did not seem logical that my body would not care whether I ate 1000 calories of chicken or 1000 calories of potato chips. After losing 30 pounds in the summer between 8th grade and high school (I had put on weight after moving from one state to another), my weight was pretty steady for a while.”

“Counting calories was not difficult because it meant I could have whatever I wanted,” she noted, “but those decisions came with sacrifices. If I wanted candy or chips, I had to give up dinner. I was hungry and it took lots of will power to maintain this diet, but it was something I wanted so I stuck with it.”

After getting married, PJ found that each passing year added five pounds or so to her body. “In 1989, I was told I had a condition with my eyes where exercise such as running could bring about problems. My physical activity dwindled and my weight slowly climbed. In addition, my job was very stressful, and food was an outlet.”

PJ reached a point where she weighed around 290 pounds and was ‘mad’ at herself. “Susan Powter came out with her Fat Makes You Fat. I bought into that theory because it went along with what I had thought while counting calories: there has to be more than calories involved. It seemed logical that fat made you fat. We had lots of chicken prepared hundreds of different ways, two baked potatoes, veggies, and a salad each night for dinner. I strove to make the chicken different each night so that we would not become bored with the meals. I believed that finding a way of eating for life meant the food had to be appealing. This became my mindset, and did not require a lot of will power. And as more and more fat free products came out, it became even easier.”

“After a few months, I really started to feel like I was having gallbladder problems because the fat was SO low. I noticed pains when I ate a food that had some fat in it. I really was losing weight and found this way of eating did not require as much will power as counting calories. However, I really did worry that we were not eating ENOUGH fat. It seemed to me that fat was necessary at some level. So, we abandoned this way of eating and returned to a ‘normal’ lifestyle and my excess weight slowly returned.”

PJ returned to school in 1996. She enrolled in a university and found that working full time during the day and going to school full time at night was a great way to lose weight. “If you have no time to eat you will lose weight, and I did just that. I got back down to about 235 pounds by graduation. I told myself that I did not want to ever be in the upper 200’s again. But returning to ‘normal’ eating for me meant the weight returned.”

While in college, PJ did try the Hollywood Diet, and did lose weight. “It was not too hard because the will power needed was only for a few days at a time. I can make drastic changes when only a few days are involved. I stopped the Hollywood Diet because of the cost and because I really did not feel it was healthy.”

I have always been physically active, so a lot of times when I wanted to lose weight, I would just cut out meals, eating only dinner, and would add to it the latest exercise regime. I have done Jane Fonda, Leslie Sansone, and Richard Simmons. Any time I have added an exercise routine to my daily life, I have always felt better.”

“For me, the trouble always comes from sticking to it. Life seems to interfere and makes finding the time to exercise hard sometimes. All it takes is a few days of missed exercise and I stop. I don’t really want to stop. I enjoy the extra energy from exercise and the mental well being that comes from working out. It does not seem to matter what kind of exercise I do, the key for me is to be up and moving.”

PJ has known about low carbing for about 35 years. “My dad used to eat only protein to lose weight when I was growing up. He would eat steak and cottage cheese for dinner, poached eggs for breakfast, etc., and lose 30 pounds in a month.”

“I DO believe I am addicted to carbs. I see now that sugar is the root of all dietary evil for me. My body craves the sugar to get the sugar high. When my blood sugar drops, my brain craves in even more. This made it hard to stay on other diets because I would still be feeding the sugar monster. It took LOTS of will power to stick with a high carb diet. I could crave chips, breads, crackers, chocolate, etc. If I gave in, my brain would just want more. (The theory behind counting calories or Weight Watchers points meant I could give in, but with only small amounts of food.) I wasn’t not satisfied with just a taste. Just as an alcoholic cannot have one beer, I believe I cannot have one chip. ”

“I read Suzanne Somers’ second book and the ideas presented within it made sense to me. So, I read Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, Protein Power, and The Schwarzbein Principle. They all made sense to me. After I had come to the conclusion I would always be overweight, I decided to give this concept a try.”

“The good parts of eating this way is that it takes NO will power,” PJ told me. “I have NO cravings. I am in control of the foods that go in my mouth; food no longer has a hold on me. I also have no portion control. I eat until I am full, which is very satisfying. Since I am eating whole, natural foods with real fats, the meals are very tasty and they’re satisfying as well.”

“The bad part is the prep work needed. I am spending much more time in the kitchen cooking than I ever have before in my life! At points in time, it seems this way of life has consumed my spare time. There are nights when I am tired and wish we could run out to a fast food place for a meal or that I could just reach in the freezer and pop a TV dinner in the oven for dinner.”

This way of eating is working for PJ because, she said, “I finally understand the true problems. I was having SUGAR!” she exclaimed. “Without the sugar cravings, and with all the wonderful tasting food, food has become what it should be: a source of fuel. It is a freeing thing!”

I used to feel sorry for myself,” PJ continued. “because I was overweight. People cannot “give up” food. It was not like being a smoker who just quits smoking. I cannot give up eating. Before low carbing, I was faced each day with food, and each day the food would win. I did not understand why. Now that I have my sugar consumption under control, I believe I have found a way of eating that will stay with me a life time.”

In order to keep weight off permanently, you really have to make a change in your life style. Anyone can lose weight; it is keeping it off that is the true battle. How many people have quit smoking a hundred times only to light up again a few weeks later? It’s the same thing with losing weight. I could starve myself and lose ten pounds, but if I don’t change the fundamentals of my eating habits, returning to them will only guarantee I will regain my lost weight.”

“Somersizing is a way of eating where I am really full and content after meals. I have no desire to stop eating this way. In that regard, I believe this diet will work for me not only to lose the weight I want to lose, but to keep it off from now on. I know I can be ‘bad’ if I CHOOSE to and return to level 1 Somersizing to lose the extra pounds. Also, I believe I can stay with this as I believe it is a healthy choice.”

The hardest part for PJ with Somersizing is the planning. “I find it necessary to have a plan of attack for each week’s meals. On Sunday, I spend few hours planning a dinner menu. I find that if I come home from work and know what to fix for dinner, I am less likely to cheat just because I’m tired.”

“I plan out a weeks worth of meals. I’m not so rigidly planned that I know what is Monday, what is Tuesday, etc., but I plan seven evening meals for the week. Each night, I go thru the list and pick one to fix. I keep the weekly menus in electronic form so that if I am ever short of time one week and cannot plan, I can always refer back to a previous week.”

“So far, since February, we have rarely had the same thing for dinner. I try to keep it interesting. As we find recipes we really like, I print them out and put them in plastic, then in a binder for easier access. There are things I now make each week in order to stick with this way of eating. I make my own barbecue sauce and salad dressings. I make cole slaw or jicama salad and sugar free Jell-O to carry to work for my lunches. I make fudge or fudgesicles to have on hand if I feel the need for some thing to snack on. I make pepperoni chips to munch on too.”

PJ told me she really found that a support system is not as necessary with this way of eating. “I don’t feel deprived and it does not take will power. However, I do have a good support system. My hubby is on this diet with me. I have friends at work who are doing this as well. My parents also Somersize, and, of course, there are so many helpful people on the Internet. I think my doctor says this is OK because Somersizing does not really restrict high carbohydrate foods as long as they are made sugar free and with whole grains. Fruits are allowed as well.”

As far as emotional benefits, PJ commented. “I am in control; food is not. I had given up on the idea of one day being a ‘normal’ size again. Yet here I am today in that very position. If I can do this, anyone can!”

Feedback for PJ has been positive. “Everyone is very supportive and most people seem to be interested in what I am doing. It seems most people have some weight that they want to lose, and don’t want it too be hard to do. They watch as I lose two pounds a week and practically melt away in front of them, and it motivates them. If I can lose 120 pounds, they can lose 20!”

I do have some friends who are concerned because they hear in the media that low carbohydrate diets are dangerous. I always go into my lecture on how the body works and why you need fats and proteins but not carbohydrates. But it is hard to change opinions based on incorrect information from the media for the past 40 years.”

In concluding, PJ said, “I would like to tell others who are considering a life style change to understand that in order for this way of eating to work, they must commit to it. This diet cannot be done to its maximum potential if you diet for three days and then cheat for a couple. Commit to it!! It works!! There really is no need to cheat. Once you get the sugar desires out of your system, the rest is a piece of proverbial cake!”

“The food you eat is all about choices and those are choices YOU make. No one put a gun to your head and said, ‘eat candy.’ Just STOP! It takes a few days to get the sugar out of your system, but once you have, WOW!! I have been on vacations and have had life’s hard knocks happen since I started low carbing, but I refused to make those things excuses to cheat on my diet. Life is about ups and downs, not about excuses to eat something I know is not healthy. We are only given one ride on life’s merry go round. Eating correctly seems to optimize my days on earth.”

“And, last but not least, I have to talk about water. It is an important key to being healthy. I drink 96 to120 ounces of water a day. Not tea, coffee, soda, but PURE unadulterated water! I believe that is just as much a key as any other component to this way of eating.”

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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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