SugarBane from St. Louis is 5’ 1″ tall and 37 years old. She began her low carb journey weighing 225 pounds and wearing a size 28. By following the Atkins program SugarBane got down to 155 pounds and was wearing a size 12 prior to her first pregnancy and the birth of her son last summer. She is now pregnant with her second child, and is currently weighing in at 185 pounds and wearing a size 18. Her goal is to weigh 135 and be a size 12.
As a long time, lifetime, successful low carber, I asked SugarBane to share her story with us, even though she is dealing with baby weight and a second pregnancy right now. I’m sure you’ll find it fascinating and enlightening.
“I followed Atkins up until I got pregnant with my first son, then I got pregnant again 4 months after he was born so I have not had a chance to return to Atkins since I got pregnant with my first son 13 months ago. I plan on returning to Atkins when my current pregnancy ends next March (of 2003),” SugarBane told me.
These are excerpts from SugarBane’s weight journal on her website:
“I started my first diet when I was 12 years old. Puberty had only made my propensity for holding excess pounds worse and thus began my lifelong struggle against obesity. I think of all the things one must combat, the fight against obesity is the hardest. I say this because your own body becomes the enemy. And in such a case, self-esteem is bound to be the first casualty.”
“All through my adolescence, I was constantly on one diet or another, even though I was never more than 15 pounds overweight. After I got married I started taking birth control pills, and within 8 months of starting the pill I’d picked up over 60 extra pounds of weight! I went to the doctor to find out why I’d gained so much weight and he put me on a low fat, calorie-restricted diet. I lost the weight but it “came back” 6 months later with an additional 15 pounds. I kept dieting and losing the weight, but each time it was harder and took longer than the time before. Then, after a year, I would regain it all. So in the end, I was worse off than I had been at the beginning!”
“By the time I was 30 years old, I’d picked up an extra 130 pounds of weight! It was at this time that one of my doctors finally had the idea to test my thyroid. That’s the year I was diagnosed as hypothyroid. I started taking Synthroid, a synthetic T4-only thyroid replacement medication. However it didn’t make me lose the weight I’d already gained. It only served to slow down the rate at which I regained it.”
“By the time I reached age 34, I had lost a total of 240 pounds and regained a total of 380 pounds, leaving me 140 pounds heavier than I had started out at 20 years before. It had now become quite obvious to me that low fat, calorie-restricted diets were not the permanent solution for me. They were in fact only making my condition worse! For those of you who have been there yourselves, you know the emotional devastation of finding yourself back where you started – or worse. I’ve been through that particular kind of hell a grand total of eleven times, so I wasn’t very interested in shooting for number 12.”
“Every time I regained more weight than I had lost, I swore it would be the last time, but somewhere inside I knew it wouldn’t last or get me where I needed to be. The diets I lived on (if you can even call that ‘living’) left me hungry, miserable and incessantly tired. I had no energy, and I was constantly ravenous. I thought about food 100 percent of the time, and every second of every day I was anticipating my next ‘food allotment’.”
“Although I have done minor yo-yo dieting off and on for many years, my life can be broken down into three major weight losses. (Those are weight losses in excess of 40 or more pounds.) They are as follows:”
1st Diet – Low calorie (800 calories a day), low fat (less than 10%):
“I lost 40 pounds, but regained it all in 2 years – plus an additional 40 pounds. I used over-the-counter appetite suppressants and fiber products. My starting weight was 145 pounds; my end weight was 105 pounds. My weight after the regain was 185 pounds.”
“I tried this diet because I was desperate. I was just starting college and didn’t want to be fat anymore. I basically starved myself and exercised excessively. My family considered me anorexic. I was on this one for 12 months. The good thing about it was the quickness of the weight loss. The bad thing about it was that I was always tired and lightheaded, plus my muscles and joints hurt constantly. This diet made me feel in control of my body, but it was very difficult for me physically as I had very little energy. It was hard to follow because I had to avoid eating just about everything. It naturally didn’t work long term because it was not a practical long term way of eating.”
2nd Diet – Liquid-only diet (800 calories a day):
“I lost 60 pounds. I “ate” nothing but Ensure for 4 months. I gained it all back in 2 years – plus an additional 40 pounds. I used no supplements or medications. My starting weight was 185 pounds; my end weight was 125 pounds. My weight after the regain was 225 pounds.”
“I tried this diet as a self-styled do-it-yourself Optifast program. I studied the Optifast program and tried to do my own version of it since I didn’t have the money to do the actual program (It was and is very expensive). I was on this diet for 6 months. The good thing about it was it was easy to follow because I had no temptation to cheat. Once I was on the liquid only for more than 4 weeks, I knew I could injure myself by eating anything solid. (A liquid only diet of this magnitude requires a re-introductory period to solids to prevent shock to the digestive system.)”
“After a couple of months I was locked into the plan and figured I might as well stay on course until the end. I had no choice as to what to eat; my only option was to choose vanilla, chocolate or strawberry Ensure and a vitamin supplement.”
“The bad thing was it took 8 weeks to get my body used to digesting solid foods again! I had to blend up all my foods and start out like a baby learning to eat again. This diet made me feel secure in that I was physically restricted from cheating. Physically I felt very good on this diet which surprised me and others. I now attribute this to the lower carbs I was ‘eating’ since 4 cans of Ensure contain far fewer carbohydrates than I had been consuming previously. Of course, it did not work long term because one cannot realistically go through their whole life ‘eating’ nothing but Ensure.”
3rd Diet – Low fat/vegetarian diet (less than 1000 calories a day):
“I ate only vegetables, grains, fruits, breads; no meat. I used over the counter appetite suppressants and fiber supplements. I lost 55 pounds, and I gained it all back in 6 months. My starting weight was 225 pounds; my end weight was 170 pounds. My weight after regain: 225 pounds. But before I had a chance to gain any additional weight I switched to low carb.”
“I started this diet because I was worried about my health. My body hurt so much I could barely get around. My cholesterol was through the roof, and I was worried about diabetes. I was on this one for 14 months. The good thing was it did take off over 50 pounds and I felt much better, but the bad thing was that it was difficult to follow because I was constantly ravenous and always fighting the temptation to overeat. I felt extremely deprived.”
“This diet made me feel ‘healthy’ in that I thought I was the epitome of good health because I was avoiding virtually all fat. Physically, I felt tired and hungry, but I was willing to put up with it for the duration of the diet because I knew it wasn’t permanent.”
“Of course, this one did not work long term because who wants to go through their life tired and hungry?”
“I have been low carbing since June 10th, 1999. This was about 2 years, but then I had to suspend my diet in July of 2001 because I got pregnant. Since there was very little to no information on the effects of low carbing on a developing fetus, I opted to resume a normal diet for the duration of my pregnancy. I had planned to resume low carbing this spring (after my baby was born), but I found myself pregnant again before I even had the chance,” SugarBane laughed.
” I started this way of life almost as soon as I discovered it. My friend introduced me to the idea, and I went on the Internet looking for info. I bought Dr. Atkins’ book and decided to try his plan after reading it.”
“The good parts of this way of eating have been the control it’s given me over my appetite. I no longer needed to use appetite suppressants. After 6 months on low carb, I no longer felt strong cravings for food. I did miss sugar and bread a good deal at first, but I got over it after 4 or 5 months.”
“This way of eating has succeeded where other diets have failed because I have been able to remain on this ‘diet’ happily for 2 years, and have either held my weight or slowly been reducing it. I feel low carb is a way of eating I can stick with because it makes me feel so good. I have more energy, no feelings of deprivation, and I am not constantly battling my appetite.”
“I can’t wait to get back on the program in March of 2003 when my new baby is delivered. My health has only benefited from low carb eating. My cholesterol ratio dropped from a deadly 10:1 to a healthy 2:1. My HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) went up from 20 to 65. My total cholesterol was under 200 for the first time in 10 years! My triglycerides went from the 400s to under 50. My allergies disappeared as well.”
“It’s been a challenge confronting naysayers and ‘concerned others’ who as misinformed about the advantages of low carb eating. I received a lot of well-meant advice to get back to a low fat/high carb diet before I damaged my kidneys or something equally negative. Surprisingly though, none of the doctors I told about my ‘diet’ had any such warning and were totally supportive of it; they could obviously see how it had and was improving my health.”
I asked SugarBane, “If you were speaking to a group of new low carbers and seasoned veterans about low carbing, what tips or advice would you give them regarding cheating and stalls? What would you tell them is the most IMPORTANT thing to remember?”
Here are her answers:
“As for cheating, it’s like this. If you cheat you are only cheating yourself of something far more important than a food reward. I tell others to not beat themselves up about a failure, but rather to think of it as just one battle lost -but the war wages on. Get back on the wagon right away and don’t look back. The less you cheat, the less you want to cheat. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
“Stalls are just road bumps on the highway to thinness. You will go through more than a few of them, but so long as you don’t take any detours or shortcuts and remain on the low carb road, you will eventually get over the bump. Nine out of ten times it is just your body hitting a metabolic set point and catching its breath. Try changing your activity levels, or adding more healthy carbs like salad and vegetables. Try cutting back on protein a bit and see what happens.”
“Sometimes hormones or allergies to a food can halt weight loss. Reevaluate what’s changed and go from there. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world.”
“The most important point to remember is that you did not gain all the weight overnight, and it will not come off overnight. Low carbing is a permanent way of eating, not a quick-fix diet that you do and then quit when you reach your goal weight! If you quit low carbbing, then the weight will return. Your commitment to this way of eating is crucial. Be serious about it and your weight loss will be equally serious,” SugarBane concluded.
We will be updating you on SugarBane’s return to low carb and her progress after her new baby arrives. A huge thank you to her for sharing her story and insight, and we wish her the best of luck with the new baby! Stay tuned for updates!
SugarBane manages a wonderful low carb support website on the Internet, and invites all those who have questions or who want to be inspired to come and visit. You can find her website at: http://lowcarb4life.sugarbane.com